As a PGA-certified pro, Jeff Thomsen's distinguished golf career began decades ago, when the 16-year-old Thomsen swung his way to the Idaho State Amateur championship, becoming the youngest player ever to earn that rarefied distinction. His early success would pave the cart path to a long career that included 55 PGA Tour events, participation in four major championships, multiple tournament victories, and once saving a course-side community from a feral golf cart. Today, Jeff showers pupils with golf wisdom culled from both his 35-year competitive career and a certification from the Nicklaus/Flick Golf School. The passionate pedagogue helps players sharpen their game, lengthen their drives, and fold scorecards into paper cranes with hands-on, comprehensive lessons conducted at multiple courses throughout the hills of Treasure Valley.
Designed by course architect Gene Bates, Hunter's Point Golf Club's 18-hole, par 71 course channels the windswept charm of Britain's links-style courses in its lengthy, emerald tapestry of bent-grass fairways and greens protected by formidable hazards. Throughout the course, a king's guard of expansive waste bunkers, deep pot bunkers, and deadly quicksand bunkers stand ominously alongside landing areas and greens, placing a high premium on precise shots and astute club selection. The course takes duffers careening amid the towering scenery of the Owyhee Mountains and Boise Mountain Range, and Lake Lowell and its surrounding waterways provide both pleasing panoramas and intimidating forced carries. On the par 5 16th, a slight dogleg left spans 669 yards from the farthest tees and culminates on a green guarded by five bunkers and patrolled by a feral flagstick. The course's considerable length—it measures 7,093 yards from the back tees—is tempered by its inclusion of five tee boxes on most holes, including a Jack Rabbit family tee that reduces the course length by more than half for true neophytes and players experimenting with spaghetti-based club shafts.
At Shankz Glo-Par-Tee, larger-than-life dinosaurs, sea creatures, and volcanoes glow under black lights as guests play through 18 holes of miniature golf in the 6,000-square-foot facility. It can take about 30–40 minutes for players aged 3 and older to travel through the course’s glowing jungles, underwater worlds, and prehistoric locales, and even longer when they’re sporting Shankz’s ChromaDepth 3-D glasses, which inhibit the wearers’ ability to perceive the fourth dimension. In addition to mini golf, Shankz Glo-Par-Tee features a glowing arcade and themed party rooms where patrons can host birthday parties or private events.
Randy Henry’s Dynamic Golf's aboutGolf PGA Tour simulator lets golf enthusiasts sharpen their skills in the middle of the most brutal lightning storm. Links lovers can practice swinging, slicing, and putting on their choice of 55 courses, including top-ranked courses such as Pebble Beach and Pinehurst, within the digitally rendered, high-definition world of a 180-degree panoramic screen. A new-fangled sensor array analyzes the weight and rotation of real-life swings by taking video and digitizing golf-orb statistics such as speed and rifle spin, allowing swingers to mathematically improve their whiffs. Once the ball is airborne, invisible cherubs transport the dimpled globe from this dimension into a parallel universe that is safely contained within the simulator by an ancient pact between Scotland Yard and the denizens of a second Earth.
Nestled amid the Lewis-Clark Valley's rolling hills and serpentine Snake and Clearwater Rivers, Bryden Canyon's 6,359-yard, par 71 course poses an intermediate challenge for both golfers and cup-and-string phone conversationalists. Sparkling ponds lap at the banks of the course's bookending greens, ensnaring rogue balls in its watery depths, where they are used as game pieces by the course's hungry, hungry hippos. As the cleat-clad chip, drive, and putt their way through 18 holes dotted with devilish sand traps and howitzer-lined bunkers, cunning eyes might catch glimpses of deer, coyote, and mountain goats as they steal into the mist surrounding the grounds.
Awarded one of the “Top 10 Golf Experiences Within Idaho” by Golf Digest, The Highlands Golf Course beckons golf enthusiasts with forests of towering pine trees and rolling terrain of verdant beauty. The course was originally designed by Jim Krause and opened for play in 1991, though anyone who hasn’t played it since 2006 will appreciate the additional tee boxes and marked improvements in bunker playability resulting from course renovations. Six lakes come into play, demanding deft club selection around the greens and impeccable swan dives to retrieve errant golf balls. Narrow fairways and several doglegs also place a premium on flawless drives off of your playing partner's belly button.
As a warm-up or a cool-down, practice at the driving encourages skill development with grass tees and nearly 400 yards of open expanse. A short-game practice area recreates most on-course situations a golfer can conjure up, with sand bunkers and two regulation flagpoles that double as golf cart jousting lances.
Course at a Glance: