A Career on Course

Faces of the Falls: Tim Reinke, PGA Head Professional at Pinecrest Golf Course

Published online: Mar 05, 2020
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By Seth Harper & Steve Smede

It’s easy to talk about places we love, but when pressed, it’s not really the venues that brighten our smiles — it’s the people who greet us at their doorstep. Over time, personality and property become one.

One of the most obvious examples is Tim Reinke, Head PGA Professional at Pinecrest Golf Course.

“Tim is just incredible, a real gem of this community,” says former city council member and life-long golf fanatic Mel Erickson. “He’s done an amazing service for so many people — for local youth, for the city and for the game of golf.”

When Tim Met Piney

When Tim was 11-years-old, his father joined Laurel Golf Club just outside of Billings, Montana, giving Tim his start in golf under pro Mike Taylor. When Tim graduated in 1979 he followed Taylor to Idaho Falls, becoming an assistant pro at Pinecrest.        

To this day, Tim serves as Head PGA Professional of the course often referred to as “Old Piney” — a crown jewel of Idaho Falls recreation that stretches back to the 1930s.

In its infancy, the course was described as a “barren wasteland.” When Tim first arrived, the wasteland was gone, replaced by numerous trees that now define the property. In recent decades, Pinecrest has been ranked as one of the top 50 public golf courses in America by Golf Digest.

Although he would be the first to deny it, much of the credit for Pinecrest’s legendary status goes to Tim himself, and it stretches back the better part of four decades.

The summer after moving down to Idaho, Tim went to Salt Lake City for coursework to become an accredited PGA Professional — training that actually goes far beyond playing skills and instruction abilities. Out of the 42,000 people that took the training exam the same year as Tim, he had the highest test score.

“I had to memorize 80 diseases for putting greens, what chemicals you put on them, and when each disease occurs,” Tim said. When asked by friends how he did it, Tim simply responded with, “Well, I read the book!”

In the following decades, Tim has earned numerous accolades from the PGA Rocky Mountain Section, including three-time honors as the Golf Professional of the Year and six-time honors as the section’s Public Merchandiser of the Year.

Lessons Learned     

Despite having a pro shop and entire course to run along with superintendent Mark Spraktes, Tim still sticks to his roots. First and foremost, that means player instruction.

“I still give a ton of lessons,” Tim said. “I enjoy it. Over the years just by learning the game, going to seminars, you become a better teacher.”

A large part of that teaching includes younger players. Pinecrest runs a massive junior program with roughly 450 kids enrolled, has a brand new family pass available, and has a family day on Saturdays after 4 p.m.

“This year I see a lot more younger kids coming out,” Tim said. “I think parents finally let them play enough video games to the point they finally say, ‘Hey, we gotta go do something else.’  Across America, or across the world, people are trying to be healthier. Trying to eat better … I think golf is going to keep growing. We’re fortunate here because it’s very affordable.”

Balancing the Books 

Good budgeting keeps golf courses successful. For Reinke, Spraktes and Pinecrest, the MERF program has done that. Each year, the Municipal Equipment Replacement Program puts a chunk of money into a fund that replaces broken down equipment.

Despite other city owned properties not always breaking even, that’s Tim’s goal every year and something they usually accomplish.

“We’re very fortunate.” Tim said. “But we’re fortunate because we have a good budget.”

A Social Business

While most of the income generated by the golf course comes from usage fees, Tim has also made Pinecrest successful as a retail business, providing some of the best equipment selection in the region. This is thanks in large part to the relationships that Tim and his staff have built with customers over the years. 

Lee Taylor makes an interesting case in point. Lee was a long-time repeat customer of Tim’s, who Tim calls, “my best customer by far.” Lee would spend roughly $40,000 a year on new clubs and other items in the shop. He did this for 30 years.

“When I took over the pro shop, I didn’t know a lot about business,” Tim said. “He helped me a lot. That’s just how Lee was; he taught me a lot of stuff. He just wanted me to be successful.”

One Christmas, Lee bought Tim a big screen TV, claiming Tim didn’t make enough money off him that year and that they were now even. To Lee, golf is all about playing with your buddies.

“When you look at the game, to some it may look silly,” Tim said. “You drive by here, you see some guy with a push cart, which looks so strange. For the average population, how could this be fun?”

But once you get hooked, he says, everything changes. While the game can be fiercely competitive for some, Tim understands that golf remains a social experience for people throughout their lives, unlike many other sports.

With a successful career already under his belt, Tim sees himself working another six or seven years before retiring. Beyond that, he says he doesn’t want his name on a single thing honoring him at the golf course. “I will vandalize it myself if that happens,” he said.

Through his 40 years at Pinecrest, Tim has worked to build relationships with people and show he cares in his work.

“The only reason I have a good reputation, is because I care.” Tim said. “It’s the only thing I do really well. I just care about it. I do it all. I put carts away, I work in the shop, and I love all those things. I enjoy seeing the carts being cleaned, I enjoy customers being happy, and that’s probably why I’ve been here that long. People know we care. I think that’s why our place is successful.”

If you would like to read more of our March issue click here!

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