When COVID-19 hit last year, the golf industry saw a resurgence around the country and in Jackson Hole.
Some valley clubs enjoyed an increase in membership sales as well as more play, even though some of the clubs closed to outside play. Heading into this season, club managers expect the increased interest in the sport to continue as they return to “normal.”
Teton Pines, for instance, now has a waiting list for memberships, a dramatic change from a few years ago, and last year the club did 30% more rounds than it had ever done, General Manager and golf course Superintendent Mike Kitchen said. This season, the Pines does not plan to offer non-member play until mid-August because of a major renovation.
“It’s happening around here,” Kitchen said.
The work on the Pines course will stretch over two seasons, with the front nine project running this year, while the back nine falls to 2022. Some bunkers will be removed and others will be added while all will be redone. There will be major changes to the seventh, 10th and 15th greens, all done in conjunction with the original course architect, Arnold Palmer Design Company.
Like the Pines, Snake River Sporting Club, south of Hoback, is undergoing major changes that started with bringing in a new partner experienced in the hospitality industry through work with Blackberry Farm and Ruby Tuesday. Changes to the club will fall across the spectrum of offerings with an emphasis on a farm-to-table menu in the restaurant, more wranglers for the equestrian program, expanded shooting and fishing and reinvestment in the golf course, said Joe Cranston, chief operating officer.
The work will address one of the vexing issues with the golf course. In the past, most errant shots ended up as lost balls because of the dense Snake River canyon foliage found just off many fairways.
The planned rework of those areas will keep play moving.
“You’ll be able to find your ball,” Cranston said.
The club, open to members and those who stay as lodging guests, still plans to develop a lodge as residential development continues.
The Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club, which closed to non-member play last season due to COVID-19 protocols, will open to outside play starting May 17. Non-member tee times start after 11 a.m.
Tennis players will get a special treat when pro Gigi Fernandez hosts a clinic, said Guy Evans, club general manager. Fernandez is one of the best doubles players of all time, having won 17 Grand Slam titles as well as two Olympic gold medals, Evans said.
The club hired a new golf course superintendent, Steve Gregg, a long-time valley resident who will work to improve course conditions and oversee replacing bunker sand.
Chef Stephanie Wilson has created new lunch, dinner, pool and patio menus.
“We are excited to get back to what we hope will be a more normal operation this summer, though, of course, we will continue to follow local, state and federal recommendations and guidelines,” Evans said.
Shooting Star plans to return to more normal operations as well, said John Resor, president of the business.
Shooting Star, which featured only member play last summer, saw a 23% increase in rounds as homeowners and members who normally visit Jackson Hole for a portion of the season came instead for the entire season, Resor noted.
“People are spending more time here,” Resor said. “More people are finding ways to work remotely.”
The club will again have bag storage, valet parking and unaccompanied guest play.
Resor expects to continue popular outside food service options and will offer interior dining, but tables will be spaced further apart than normal.
Course work, done in conjunction with course architect Tom Fazio’s firm, consists of bunker changes and tree trimming.
“Some minor tweaks made it a little more player friendly,” Resor said.
Area residents can play the course after 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. Those interested have to sign up at least by the Friday preceding their round. The club encourages golfers to take a forecaddie.
Currently, the golf club has a waitlist for members.
Three Creek Ranch did not respond to calls for this story.