On a recent spring 2015 visit to Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming, I was delighted to find yet another reason to recommend this stunning recreational paradise. The golf. Specifically, the golf at Teton Pines Resort!
Golf? But I’m Here to Hike!
It’s true that I had not planned a golfing vacation when we booked our trip to the Tetons. The breathtaking spires of Grand Teton National Park had beckoned to me on my several visits to Yellowstone National Park (GTNP lies just south of YNP, and admission to one includes the other), but I had never managed to fit in a visit. The geologic fault-block action that gave rise to the Teton Range has resulted in a dizzying sweep of snow-capped mountains that tower dramatically over the meadows and lakes below without any foothills in between. As such, the mountains are visible from far away across the plain. To a hiker like me, they were a siren song. Treating myself and my husband to a full week in a condominium at the entrance to the park was like a little slice of heaven. I was going to hike and hike and hike some more.
Then I saw the golf course!
Why Not Both?
It was rather a coincidence we even had our clubs with us on what set out to be a hiking trip. En route to Wyoming from our home state of Washington, my husband had business meetings; I had packed my clubs along so I could play while he worked. He brought his along because, well, they rarely leave the car.
When we arrived at our condo to check in for the week, we were informed of numerous perks about which we had not previously been aware, including a few rounds at Teton Pines, a resort golf course just a few miles down the road. It was very early in the season, snow was melted in the valley, temperatures were pleasant, and the price was right.
What the heck? We have seven days, why not do both?
Golfing Teton Pines
Designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer and his business partner, landscape architect Ed Seay (think Sawgrass Country Club), the Teton Pines course opened in 1987. Its six sets of tee boxes offer play ranging from 5,474 to 7,402 yards, including the signature “Palmer Tees,” men’s combo tees marked with Arnie’s trademark umbrella logo.
The course has large and abundant water hazards, including a little lake on its signature Par 3, Hole 16. No tee block is spared the challenge of carrying the water on this one, but as the grandeur of the Tetons snowcapped peaks reflect back to you, somehow it’s hard to mind.
Former ranchland inhabited by all manner of free-roaming wildlife, Teton Pines respects and encourages the presence of the native fauna. Course tour descriptions include such comments as “notice the large osprey nest to the left of the fairway (Hole 1)” and “good opportunity…to witness a bald eagle…snagging a trout from the pond (Hole 8).” A young bull moose had been rampaging the morning of our second day of play; his tracks were evidence in the otherwise pristine chipping green.
The manmade part of the course is a thing of beauty, that’s for certain. Quick greens, smooth fairways, wicked rough—it’s all there, along with attractive landscape details in terms of plant selection, rock work, bridges and so forth. But that all pales in comparison to the way the Teton Range rises in the distance to produce jaw-dropping Kodak moments throughout the course. Together, the course itself, the amazing setting, and the wildlife, are reason enough to play Teton Pines if you have an extra day or two when you visit Jackson, Wyo., and Grand Teton National Park.
Visiting Grand Teton National Park
While you’re in the neighborhood, don’t miss the main event. Grand Teton National Park is a hiker’s and wildlife watcher’s dream. In 2015, the admission to the park is $25 per vehicle ($12 for individuals hiking or bicycling) and is valid for seven days. The permit also gives you access to Grand Teton’s flashier, more famous sister to the north, Yellowstone National Park. Learn more about Grand Teton National Park at the official National Park Service website, http://nps.gov/grte.
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Top Photo: Author prepares to tee off from the 14th tee block.