June 1, 2019

Setting the Scene at Sun Valley

This Idaho resort offers scenic views from the range and throughout the property

By: Scott Kramer

Like many golf getaways set in the mountains, Sun Valley Resort is reliably scenic. As you stand at the practice tee and gaze down the range of this popular Idaho destination, Bald Mountain rises 3,400 feet in the backdrop. Baldy, as locals know it, provides an inspiring target for golfers.

The range sets the scene for two stunning mountain courses – the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. designed Trail Creek Golf Course and Whites Clouds Golf Course designed by Don Knott. The alpine linksstyle nine-hole White Clouds course offers 3,600 yards of play, with 360-degree views of the Wood River Valley. Trail Creek, one of Golf Digest’s top 75 resort courses in North America, is a traditional alpine track that stretches to 6,900 yards (from the tips) and crosses the its namesake water feature seven times on the front nine alone.

The resort also operates a second facility 1.5 miles away, at its semi-private Elkhorn Golf Club.

No doubt, guests here perpetually experience amazing views, dramatic elevation changes and spectacular sunsets. And they can hit balls in sunlight from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., during the summer. But several surprises still await.

First of all, snow can fall at any time of year – as it has been known to do even in mid-summer. Secondly, guests witness outstanding stargazing at night – right out on the range. As Sun Valley sits amid Central Idaho’s Dark Sky Reserve, you can’t avoid seeing amazing views of the heavens.

“The practice range is probably the darkest part of the entire valley,” says Mike Fitzpatrick, the resort’s director of marketing and public relations. “So we’re looking at getting professors from the local college to come out and do night gazing with families this year. That will be really neat.”

Then there’s the 18-hole Sawtooth Putting Course, an all-natural grass layout with interchangeable pin positions, adjacent to the range.

“It’s become really popular,” says Fitzpatrick, who adds that Sawtooth is modeled after St. Andrews’ massive and world-renowned putting course, The Himalayas. “It’s incredibly popular with golfers practicing, but also with families. It’s a great way to introduce families to golf because they realize how fun it is. Hotel guests will come and use Sawtooth – but aren’t necessarily playing golf while they’re on vacation. Those same guests often use the range, too.”

That’s a testament to the upscale quality of the 25-acre practice facility that houses 30 natural grass stalls, practice bunkers, natural greens, chipping areas, and private instruction areas at the far end of the range that help enhance the private lesson and golf academy experiences. The five PGA Professionals on staff proudly boasts that there are no artificial tees or lights, and that the property is lush all summer. By the way, guests not bringing clubs with t hem can use the latest model TaylorMade rental clubs, even for just practicing on the range.

Beyond the golf, Mother Nature’s stunning work provides the backdrop for a myriad of outdoor adventures and special events.

“The thing about Sun Valley is that there’s a lot of choices of things to do – hiking, mountain biking, culture, music events and our summer ice show with major figure skating names,” says Fitzpatrick. “Golf is always popular here, but it’s just one of the ways to enjoy scenes of Sun Valley.”