The Idaho Club on Monday did what it usually does to me.
It took several of my golf balls and didn’t give them back (I found enough to break even).
It presented scenic, challenging holes, one after another. Nearly every swing requires thought and accuracy or the consequences can be harsh.
It would have sent my score soaring if not for a scramble format.
That’s not breaking news, but there is a different vibe around the gorgeous property located near Sandpoint.
There is new ownership, plans for a new clubhouse and stable footing that has eluded the development for years, reflected in the greeting on its Website: “Welcome to the new Idaho Club.”
“We want to get the word out about The Idaho Club that we’re back and we’re healthy again,” new owner Bill Haberman told a gathering of media, realtors and course members.
Many of the articles about the old Idaho Club in the last decade centered on court proceedings, bankruptcy and foreclosure, or a 2008 fire that leveled the clubhouse. Many golfers had no idea if the course was open to the public.
Haberman and two partners have navigated through most of the legal process. They own the golf course, 105 developed lots (with road, water, sewer, etc.) and 100 undeveloped.
They anticipate purchasing what’s referred to as the Trestle Creek properties about 10 minutes away to make it “a golf and lake retreat,” Haberman said.
I first spoke with Haberman by telephone in 2014, not long after he and his business partners acquired Thistle Golf Club in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, a property with numerous parallels to The Idaho Club.
“When I look at opportunities like this, my strategy has been find great assets in distressed situations, not distressed assets,” Haberman said. “Distressed assets are difficult because you’re trying to take an OK property and trying to convince people it’s good.
“You start with a great property and then you fix what’s wrong with it that doesn’t have anything to do with the property or the location.”
Haberman emphasized that the previous owners did countless things right, including the 2008 course redesign by Jack Nicklaus, but encountered an unforgiving economic downturn.
“It’s happened to me,” Haberman said. “It’s happened to everybody in this business.”
The course opened for the season about two weeks ago. It’s one of the toughest tracks in the region, particularly from the back tees (7,089 yards). Water comes into play throughout. There is significant reward vs. serious risk on a few shorter par 4s and potentially reachable-in-two par 5s.
“It’s certainly one of the top three courses in North Idaho and certainly one of the top three projects of this type in North Idaho,” Haberman said. “It’s just a great place. It has great potential.”
The Idaho Club, which opened as Hidden Lakes in the mid 1980s, is semi private with public tee times offered after 10:30. Green fees from Monday-Thursday are $75 from 10:30-2 and $55 after 2. Weekend rates are an additional $20.
The new clubhouse will be designed by a friend of Haberman’s with extensive experience in the hospitality industry. It will include the pro shop, restaurant, bar and grill, locker rooms, real estate sales office, fitness center, hot tub, pool and fire pit.
“We want it to be distinct as its use is distinct,” Haberman said.
Construction will probably begin next spring. The pro shop the last two years has been inside a rented house not far from the original clubhouse.
Haberman, who lives near Orlando, Florida, has typically visited 3-4 times a year, driven by the legal schedule.
“But now that the fun is going to start happening,” he smiled, “I’ll be up here a little more.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.