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Tee’d Up For Success

At the Idaho Falls Country Club, the main course is just the beginning

Published online: Jun 11, 2021 Articles, Dining Steve Smede
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Mark Twain may have referred to golf as a good walk spoiled, but if he were transported to the early 1960s to the highlands southeast of Idaho Falls, he might have quickly changed his tune. By that time, the nascent Idaho Falls Country Club was just taking shape, and it has since matured into a bonafide championship-calibre golf course. Like its rippled tree-studded landscape of manicured swales and summits, the facility has seen its own ups and downs over the decades. 

Today, it stands as one of the premier private golf opportunities in the region.

While most residents (and even some of the club's own members) see it as a mid-summer escape from the bustling trio of city-owned golf courses, the “IFCC” is in fact a facility with year-round offerings to its members. To boot, much of that service extends well beyond the recreational confines of "just a golf course." 

At the top of the list is an exceptional dining experience that rivals any of the top fine-dining establishments in the region.

“Year round, food and beverage is always an important part of the experience here,” said Jason Jacobsen, General Manager and Head PGA Golf Professional. “It really complements the golf course and all the events through the season, but as we get into fall and winter, we really want to have more things going on—live music nights, comedy nights, game nights. This is when the dining goes from being just a complementary factor to being a main thing.”

The pandemic curtailed a lot of the scheduled events, golf leagues and other activities like it did at courses elsewhere, but Jacobsen says the club is now primed for a major comeback. “We’re especially excited for the annual member-guest tournament, which takes place in August,” he said. The invitation-only, 54-hole extravaganza serves as the club’s signature recruitment event as it rolls out the green carpet for a new crop of members. But even with the best of turnouts for membership drives, Jacobsen and his team realize it takes more than just a great promotional event or beautifully manicured layout to retain a strong base of membership. 

In other words, sometimes the main course is not the golf course.

“Our ultimate goal has been to create that home-away-from-home vibe for our members,” Jacobsen added. “One of the keys to that is creating a great atmosphere where we can match up our services to what they want.”

In that effort, the IFCC has recognized the vital importance of two key positions: the Food & Beverage Director and Executive Chef. The former is now occupied by Joel Henry, a well-known face in food services management (and professional chef in his own right) who has played key roles in some of the area’s best dining establishments. Meanwhile, Robert Cannizzaro has stepped into the role as Executive Chef. His culinary exploits include tutelage under some of the finest chefs in the San Francisco Bay Area, working the kitchens of other country clubs around California, and even a 6-year stint in Switzerland.

Working at clubs definitely leads to a number of special requests, and that requires a chef with broad knowledge and the skills to deliver. As Cannizzaro puts it, “You have to be a sort of ‘cover band chef,’ where there’s nothing in the world you don’t know how to make. Or if we don’t, we’re quick to look it up, to research it. Whatever it takes.” 

From high-end resorts to small-town muni’s, golf courses and food service go hand-in-hand. At private clubs, the correlation is especially strong as the facility is often used not just as an intra-round pitstop, but an experience all of its own. 

It’s a realization—and a priority—that the IFCC management has taken to heart as it moves forward in 2021 and beyond.  

The Idaho Falls Country Club is located 8 miles south of Idaho Falls nestled along the foothills of Taylor Mountain at 11611 S. Country Club Drive. Numerous membership packages are available. For a full rundown of prices and other membership details, visit or call 523-5762.

About the Idaho Falls Country Club

The golf course itself is a work of art, sculpted in large part by Mother Nature. The front nine is a rolling adventure along the hillsides south of town, featuring huge undulating greens, sharp dog legs, numerous bunkers and a prevalence of pine trees. The back nine, bordered on a few holes by residential properties, has equally winding fairways and giant greens.

The IFCC layout features tight fairways, lightning-fast greens and rolling terrain throughout its breathtaking 18-hole circuit. The club has a few particular holes that compete for "signature status" but the truth is, this is a golf course with full strings of signature holes.

All the greens on the course are nothing short of outstanding. Not only are they characteristic of large undulating putting surfaces found at top clubs around the nation; these greens are also legendary for their difficulty.

The 18-hole layout has four sets of tees, and sprinkler heads are accurately marked throughout the course. Numerous bunkers dot the layout, but water hazards are scarce as long as you steer clear of the gathering ponds south of the clubhouse.

The club’s GM, Jason Jacobsen, is well known for his caliber of play on the greens as well as his bombing tee shots (one of which landed him the distinction of a hole-in-one on the club's 13th hole—a 300-plus yard par 4). What really sets him apart, however, is his casual and personal approach to instruction.

"This guy has a gift," former club manager Jon Potter told us back in 2015. "The better you know somebody, the better you can teach them. That's a huge advantage in itself for membership at this club.”

The setup is especially good for the club's junior programs, Jacobsen said. "We have the ability to go out on the course, play four or five holes together and cover all the rules. That's a pretty unique opportunity." Along with individual instruction, junior lessons are often conducted in small groups—usually no more than five or six kids to one PGA instructor for up to two hours, three times per week. 


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