Golf, like summer, sushi and civilization in general, came late to Jackson Hole. In the mid-1960s, the first holes were laid out amongst the sagebrush just south of Grand Teton National Park almost in stride with the creation of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Since then, this high desert ranching community has slowly evolved into a four-season destination resort, adding four premium courses, all designed by some of golf’s biggest names and situated on some of Jackson Hole’s most picturesque parcels. The golfing season isn’t any longer than it was in the 60s, but the passion for golf during summer, when this valley features The Best Weather On Earth, continues to grow.
Here’s what you need to know about your golfing options in Teton County, Wyoming.
Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis
HISTORY: Originally designed by Bob Baldock, who was commissioned by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort founder Paul McCollister, and opened to the public in 1967, this 18-hole course may be one of the most scenic in the world. Located near Jackson Hole Airport about five miles north of Jackson, the course is smack dab in the middle of Jackson’s Hole with panoramic mountain views in all directions. To the west and north, golf shots soar against the towering Teton Range. To the east, Sleeping Indian keeps solemn watch over the course.
In 1973, McCollister hired Robert Trent Jones, Jr., son of renowned designer Robert Trent Jones, to redesign the course for new owners Grand Teton Lodge Company. The improved layout stood the test of time until 2006, when Trent Jones, Jr. was once again hired to update the course as part of a $15 million investment by new owners Vail Corporation.
LAYOUT: Golf & Tennis is a par 72 that measures 7,325 yards from the back tees and 5,325 yards from the forward tees. The topography is mostly flat with extensive sand bunkering and water features on 10 holes. The course is distinguished by its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Recent improvements include a state-of-the-art irrigation system, 20 new tee boxes that added more than 500 yards to the course, new practice facility and a fresh fleet of Club cars.
Signature holes include the 610-yard, par-5 eighth on the front nine, and the picturesque par-3 16th on the back nine.
ACCESSIBILITY: Golf & Tennis is a semi-private course with member tee times until 10 a.m. and public access after that. In 2020, however, the course was closed to the public. Assuming the course reopens to the public this summer, fees in the past have ranged from about $75 during the shoulder season to more than $200 for premium tee times during the height of the season.
CONTACT: 307-733-3111 or book a tee time.
Teton Pines Resort and Country Club
HISTORY: Arnold Palmer is one the 20th Century’s best-known golfers, compiling 62 PGA Tour wins. Less well known is his prolific golf course design career with co-designer Ed Seay, with more than 200 golf courses around the world.
Teton Pines opened in 1987 to national acclaim, earning recognition as Golf Digest’s third best new resort course in the country. The development also earned high marks from local golfers while attracting a diverse membership from across the country. The original owner gave way to ownership group with more than 30 members that endures to this day.
Today, Teton Pines is the valley’s go-to course for Rocky Mountain PGA events and local golf tournaments including two pro-ams, spring’s Icebreaker event and the season-ending King of the Hole.
LAYOUT: Teton Pines is an 18-hole course that measures 7,402 yards from the back tees, and 5,932 yards from the forward tees. The mostly flat course includes water hazards on nearly every hole, extensive mounding in the rough and undulating greens.
Palmer returned in 2008 to oversee a redesign of the course. The focus was on improving the sand traps and creating additional landscaping, including extensive wildflower areas, beyond the playable areas of the golf course.
ACCESSIBILITY: Teton Pines also is semi-private, holding tee times for members until noon, but also closed to the public in 2020. At this point plans are to remain closed to the public in 2021 as play will be limited by significant on-course improvements. Shoulder season rates are as low as $75 with mid-season rates climbing to $200 or more. Discounted rounds have been available to county residents who purchase multi-round packages, but it is unclear if this offer will be available in 2021.
CONTACT: 307-733-1733 or book a tee time via their web site at tetonpines.com.
3 Creek Ranch
HISTORY: Like all of the courses described in this guide, the land that is now the 710-acre 3 Creek Ranch has a colorful history many times longer than the existence of today’s amenities. Once home to hay fields, a Federal Fish Hatchery, cow-calf operations, Civilian Conservation Corps camp and several homesteads, the land was sold in 2002 and is now home to the valley’s largest golf and fishing communities. Play begin in 2005.
LAYOUT: 3 Creek Ranch is distinguished by a sprawling layout that traverses varied topography from wetlands to river bottom to former hay fields to rolling buttes. Some holes weave among the 136 home sites like a traditional core course, others stand alone, offering a sense of isolation and oneness with the land.
Rees Jones, also the son of famed designer Robert Trent Jones, said his philosophy was to not “force” the golf course onto the land and this is best represented by the extensive preservation and/or reintroduction of native grasses beyond the mowed areas.
Memorable holes include the lengthy par-4 fifth hole, situated at the western edge of the property. The hole is rated the hardest on the course, but the challenge is focusing on golf instead of the wetlands to the east, mature cottonwoods to the north and the river bottom to the west that often includes a herd of elk. On the back nine, holes 16 and 17 are at the highest point on the course and offer breathtaking views of the Tetons, Snake River plain while the holes trace the contours of the rolling buttes that mark the property’s south end.
ACCESSIBILITY: 3 Creek Ranch is private, member-owned club with tee times reserved exclusively for members and their guests.
CONTACT: Call 307-732-8920 for membership information.
HISTORY: The land beneath Shooting Star’s 18-hole, Tom Fazio-designed course, which opened for play in July 2009, remains in the same family that homesteaded the land in the 1930s. For the Resors, Shooting Star represents both the cutting edge in modern resort amenities and a deep respect for the history and culture of Jackson Hole.
Almost as soon as the first rounds were completed the accolades began rolling in. Third best residential course, said GolfWeek. Forbes Magazine named it one of the 12 best private golf communities. Most importantly, it was the consensus valley’s best course according to Jackson Hole golfers.
LAYOUT: Shooting Star is a core course, with virtually no real estate or other development adjacent to the holes. Enhancing this sense of separation is the remarkably intricate and subtle berming of an essentially flat piece of ground. By using the latest design and construction technology, millions of cubic yards of soil were redistributed to create a corridor for each hole that makes invisible the adjacent holes and nearly any sign of civilization, including the cart paths.
Shooting Star measures 7,550 yards from the tips and 5,033 from the forward tees. Multiple tees options create as many as six different courses to choose from. Memorable holes include the par-3 second on the front nine and the par-4 12th on the back nine, each distinguished by significant elevation changes and dramatic views of the Grand Teton and Sleeping Indian, respectively.
ACCESSIBILITY: Shooting Star is a private course with tee times reserved almost exclusively for members, their guests and prospective members. However, Shooting Star offers public play on Tuesday afternoons to residents of Teton County, WY.
CONTACT: Call the clubhouse at 307-739-3260 to be connected to the golf shop. For membership information call 307-739-3298.
Snake River Sporting Club
HISTORY: Once upon a time, way back in 2001, it was one landowner’s dream to build a golf course among pristine forest and wetlands along the banks of the Snake River approximately 15 miles south of Jackson. The nightmare, however, began almost as soon as the first development application was submitted with the highly contentious approval taking two years.
Once built and opened for play in 2006, membership and real estate sales were slow, resulting in reduced services and eventually foreclosure proceedings in 2010. In February 2013, Cygnus Capital of Atlanta bought the property and completed the mostly finished 23,000-square-foot clubhouse.
LAYOUT: The course begins by cutting through dense woods and descending mountainous foothills. Soon, the holes traverse the sandy soils of the Snake River floodplain before finding the open ranchlands. Arguably, there is no tougher course within 300 miles, with dense grasses just beyond the mowed areas and a tight layout that demands precise iron play and reservation from the tee.
The course measures 7,533 yards from the tips and 5,319 from the forward tees. Memorable holes abound as this course covers terrain rarely reserved for golf, but the tricky second hole on the front nine, a short 322-yard par-4 that temps golfers to drive the green but doles out severe penalties for errant shots, stands out. On the back nine, the par-3 15th offers the best look at the Snake River while demanding a strong, accurate iron shot at a small green into the prevailing wind.
ACCESSIBILITY: Snake River Sporting Club is private with tee times reserved for member.