golf course designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr. is said to have coined the
term “signature holes.” The theory being that every course should have
at least one hole that is its signature—a hole that’s unique, beautiful
And while it’s often tough to choose a single hole that truly highlights
a course, most courses have at least one such hole that is so visually
stunning, challenging or distinct that the memory of it long stays with
golfers and even gets played their in dreams.
Here we highlight an executive course’s worth of Idaho’s signature holes.
Headwaters Golf Club
Signature Hole: #10
Celebrating just its eighth season, it hasn’t taken the Headwaters Golf Club at Teton Springs Resort in Victor very long to establish itself as one of the premier golf destinations in the Northwest.
Considered a must-stop for golf enthusiasts visiting the greater Yellowstone National Park area, Headwaters was designed by Byron Nelson and is known for being both beautiful and challenging.
The signature hole at Headwaters is the 10th. With the foothills of the Palisade Mountains providing the backdrop, this relatively short hole provides plenty of challenge. Surrounded by water and sand and with the wind normally blowing across the hole, club selection can be difficult. The green is one of the toughest to read on the course, as a large ridge divides it in half, causing putts to be brutally fast if not played to the correct level. The subtle breaks on the back half of the green are hard to pick up on if you have not played the hole.
advice: Headwaters’ Head Golf Pro Matt Stireman recommends: “This hole is deceiving and you don’t want to be short. The best play is to take an extra club and get the ball to the back of the green.”
For more information check out www.tetonsprings.com or call 208.787.3636.
Golf Club at Huntsman Springs
Signature Hole: #16
Huntsman Springs was designed by the highly-acclaimed David McLay Kidd, who was named the “Architect of the Year” for 2008 by Golf Magazine and is known for embracing the natural terrain in his designs.
The signature hole at Huntsman Springs is the 16th. It embodies the risk/reward theme that’s prevalent throughout the course. When you step to the tee you have a decision to make before your first shot. With the impressive Grand Teton peak staring you in the face, a stream of water meandering from tee to green bisecting the fairway, will you choose the fairway on the right which offers an easier tee shot, or the fairway on the left which is a tougher shot off the tee but offers a better view of the green?
advice: Eric Lyman is the Head Golf Pro at Huntsman Springs, “It’s one of several holes that gives the player two fairway options. If the hole is located on the far right side of the green, I recommend playing the left fairway off the tee due to a deep bunker fronting it. The green also slopes away from you if attacking from the right fairway. If the hole is located middle or left, play the right fairway.”
For more information, check out www.huntsmansprings.com or call 208.354.4653.
Whitetail Golf Club
Signature Hole: #11
Smack dab in the middle of Idaho’s “Heartland,” Whitetail Golf Club in McCall has been called one of the “Top 100” championship courses in the country by both Golf Digest and Golfweek Magazine.
Designed by Andy North and Roger Packard, Whitetail offers diverse terrain, from towering pine tree alleys to wide-open, water-laced meadows.
The signature hole at Whitetail is the 11th. Tall Ponderosa pines frame the fairway with the Jughandle Mountains in the skyline. The fairway is slightly downhill and only 25 yards wide, guarded by thick native grasses just waiting to catch wayward tee shots.
The ideal drive will land your ball about 250 yards off the tee to a perfectly level lie. A short iron is one of the easiest shots in golf, but starting at a slightly elevated green surrounded by four deep bunkers adds a bit of anxiety. The target green is sloped from back to front with the tough hole locations being in the front and the back left corner.
advice: PGA Professional Todd Binder is the course pro: “Play conservative off the tee, hit to the middle of the green, and your chances of par are better than average.”
For more information, check out www.whitetailclub.com or call 208.634.7824.
Elk Valley Golf Course
Signature Hole: #4
Nestled in the heart of the Smoky Mountains and along the breathtaking South Fork of the Boise River, Featherville’s Elk Valley Golf Course is a 9 hole, par 3 course utilizing separate tee boxes for the back 9.
Designed by Dave Mickelsen and opened in 2008, Elk Valley’s back 9 tee boxes are located to change yardages, angle of approach and elevation.
The signature hole at Elk Valley is the 4th. The par 5 features challenging natural hazards like a fairway dotted with willow shrubs and lined with wetlands full of tall meadow grass and unforgiving native plants. As you approach the oversized, undulating green nestled in the trees, beware! There are two Ponderosa pine trees in front, requiring a precise shot. If you slice the ball, you’ll find yourself kicking around in a grove of aspen, pine and tall meadow grass. If you hook or overshoot you’ll find yourself again in the tall grass or retrieving the ball from a water hazard.
advice: John Lewis, Elk Valley’s Club Manager recommends: “Keeping your drive in the fairway is the key to this hole. You don’t want to hook it or slice it or you’ll be in trouble. You’ve got to keep it straight.”
For more information, check out www.elkvalleygolf.com or call 208.653.2376.
Galena Ridge Golf Course
Signature Hole: #4
Located at Silver Mountain Resort in the Idaho panhandle, just 30 minutes east of Coeur d’Alene, Galena Ridge is the newest jewel of Gem State golf.
Galena Ridge opened in June 2010 and has quickly impressed golfers with its dramatic elevation changes from tee to green, gorgeous fairways and greens tucked into wooded draws, and its sweeping mountain views.
The signature hole at Galena Ridge is the 4th. It runs along the upper most ridgeline of the course and offers sensational views in every direction. Buried beneath the fairway are remnants from a smoke stack used by the Bunker Hill Mining Company. The green is guarded by two sand traps and a native area that wraps around and behind it. Once on the sizeable green, players will be faced with overcoming natural undulations in pursuit of a birdie.
Advice: Galena Ridge’s John Williams recommends: “The tee shot requires a long and straight drive, but players can shorten the distance by aiming toward a lone bunker on the right side and by taking into consideration the prevailing left to right winds.”
For more information check out www.silvermt.com or call 208.783.1522. Mention learning
about the course in Idaho Golf magazine when you check in and you’ll receive a Galena Ridge souvenir.
Ridgecrest Golf Course
Signature Hole: #12
Set in the old rolling cornfields of Nampa, Ridgecrest Golf Club is one of Idaho’s premier golf facilities. Designed by John Harbottle III and featuring a modern day links-style course, Ridgecrest offers something for everyone including large greens, varying tee lengths, challenging hazards and championship practice facilities.
For the past 11 years, Golf Digest has given the 18 hole course a four-star ranking, and Ridgecrest also offers an executive 9 course perfect for beginners and families.
The signature hole at Ridgecrest is the 12th. A fantastic par 3 known as the “Cliff,” this challenging hole with elevation drops of almost 100 feet has seven
different teeing areas cut into the side of the cliff, making club selection very important.
The green is surrounded by bunkers with water on the right-hand side and behind it, forcing golfers to attack the green. To add to the challenge, the 12th is also known for a steady wind that circles around both the tee box cliff and the green.
advice: Jim Brown, Ridgecrest's Director of Golf, recommends, “Take a deep breath and aim at the flag, and you just might end up with a birdie putt on this beautiful par 3.”
For more information check out www.ridgecrestgolf.com or call 208.468.5888.
White Clouds Golf Course
Signature Hole: #8
Offering some of the most stunning views found on any course on the planet, the White Clouds Golf Course in Sun Valley is known for its striking topography. The ridge-lined course overlooks the picturesque Wood River Valley, the White Cloud Mountains and the Ernest Hemingway Memorial.
Opened in 2008, the long, links-style course was designed by Don Knott and is considered challenging by any standard, with several long Par 5s and undulating fairways that yield few, if any, flat stances.
The signature hole at White Clouds is the 8th. Standing on the tee-box nearly 300 feet above the fairway below, take note of the wind before teeing off. It’s important to hit a solid drive on this long, downhill par 4. Anything hit too far left makes it a near impossible up-and-down.
advice: Jeff Peterson is White Clouds’ Director of Golf: “The ball will stay in the air forever, but will need to favor the right side of the fairway due to a severely sloped fairway and bunkers on the left. The long second shot plays downhill and should also favor the right side of this large undulating green. Misses need to be short and right.”
For more information, check out www.sunvalley.com or call 208.622.2251.
Centennial Golf Course
Signature Hole: #7
Centennial is known for its affordable rates and quality conditions and also for its large fairways, elevation changes and challenging greens that require golfers to stay on their toes as they navigate the course. The front 9 offers a gentle layout of rolling fairways and a canal that crosses several holes.
The signature hole at Centennial is the 7th. A challenging par 3 where the golfer must drive from an elevated tee, over the canal, to a large green. If you choose the wrong club and swing too small a stick, you might land in the water hazard or the bunker protecting the front right of the green. If you take too much club, you might carry the ball over the green forcing a very difficult chip shot back to a green sloping away from the player.
advice: Jim Brown, Centennial’s Director of Golf, recommends, “Pick the right club and take dead aim at the flag so you can hit it close and make birdie on this fun little hole.”
For more information visit www.centennialgolf.net or call 208.468.5889.
Jug Mtn. Ranch
Signature Hole: #16
Winding its way through wetlands, high desert and heavy forests, Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall is part of the Idaho Golf Trail and is considered one of the best bargain courses in the Gem State. In 2008, Golf Digest selected Jug Mountain as one of the nation’s best public courses for under $75.
Designed by Don Knott, who refers to it as an “alpine links-style course,” Jug Mountain is known for its
panoramic views of McCall’s East Valley and its wide variety of tee boxes that offer something for every skill level.
The 16th hole is a long dogleg right and is lined by thick groves of trees on either side. Boulder Creek crosses the fairway and runs along the right side of the green.
Advice: Craig Collins is Jug Mountain's Director of Golf, “The tee shot is played to a generous landing area with Jughandle Mountain as your backdrop. Distance and accuracy are required for placement of the second shot into the narrowing fairway. The approach to the long undulating green is very challenging with a bunker short left and a creek right of the putting surface.”
For more information check out www.jugmountainranch.com or call 208.634.5072.