Your Own Private Idaho
Idaho's McCall Valley has no commercial airport, and Mother Nature can dish out all four seasons in the space of just one hole (even a short par 3), but it's worth all the hassles. You'll find two beautiful courses in this postcard-pretty diorama that are worth your money—not that you'll have to spend too much of it here. Here's how to enjoy a mountain weekend in the Gem State.
Osprey Meadows at Tamarack Resort
7,319 yards, par 72
Green fees: $75-$119
Originally conceived as a private track, Tamarack was given the quirks that keep a course from getting stale: blind shots, double fairways and a tempting menu of five par 3s and five par 5s. The Robert Trent Jones, Jr., layout opened to raves in 2006 but took its share of arrows for the par-5 18th hole, an impossible dogleg right without enough fairway. That's been fixed, with additional sod enlarging the landing area for both second and third shots. Osprey's greens are perfect, unlike many other mountain courses. The long par-4 second hole, which favors a cut approach with a long iron and often plays into the wind, is among the toughest in Idaho, and it's one reason why after playing Tamarack, all you can think is: Again, please.
Jug Mountain Ranch
7,287 yards, par 72
Green fees: $50-$60
After the recent addition of a second nine holes, Jug Mountain is the state's best new 18-hole course. Designed by Don Knott, whose past life as VP of design for Robert Trent Jones Jr. saw him work on the Links at Spanish Bayand more than 60 other courses, Jug Mountain wends through wetlands, wildlife and rolling hills. Some holes are wooded, some span an open meadow, but none are contrived. The low-slung clubhouse, built into the side of a hill and set to open this year, almost disappears against its surroundings. Like the course itself, it seems as if it were meant to be there all along.
Trip Tips—WHERE TO STAY
Tamarack is rife with lodging options, the most complete of which is the Lodge at Osprey Meadows (866-649-6903, tamarackidaho.com). Stay and play packages are based on double-occupancy, one round of golf per person per night booked, and start at $132 per night in spring and $183 in summer. If you want to stay in the town of McCall you can get the same rates at Whitetail Club and Resort (800-657-6464, whitetailclub.com), which sits on Payette Lake, features a private course co-designed by Andy North, and offers reciprocal deals with Tamarack.