by Rob Lundgren
(As seen in the pages of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine)
After spending nearly a quarter of century on the Nike, Web.com, Korn Ferry, and PGA tours, 48-year-old Jeff Gove is now the director of instruction at The Idaho Club, a semi-private course located near Sandpoint and beautiful Lake Pend Oreille.
“I love it here,” he says with a smile. “I’m invested here. It’s a good spot to raise our kids.” Jeff and his wife Heather have three children – Jacob, Annie and Hailey. “This is also an opportunity to build this club.”
Raised in the Seattle area and a longtime resident of southern California, Jeff had never been to the Sandpoint area until 2007. “My mother-in-law lived in the area, and I took a look at The Idaho Club and said to myself: ‘I’ve got to be in on this,’” he recalled. “We bought property in 2007 and spent the next 10 summers here. We moved here permanently in 2018, and like I said I just love it.”
After playing in the PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Challenge at the beginning of 2018, Gove decided to take a break from playing full time. “Basically it was a family decision,” he explained. “We decided to live here full time, and last winter I even tried to learn to ski.
“And just look at this,” he said, pointing to an eagle’s nest across the Lower Pack River, which meanders throughout the course. “That’s what I call outdoor therapy.”
Not only is he the director of instruction at the course, Jeff is also one of The Idaho Club’s biggest fans. “It’s super scenic and every hole is different,” he says, and then points out that it’s the only course in Idaho that’s designated as a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. “It’s not a long course, but it’s challenging.” A new clubhouse is slated to open early next year.
The prestigious PNGA Men’s Amateur Championship will be held at The Idaho Club in July.
Gove is aware that golf runs in his veins.
“I knew as a little kid I wanted to play professional golf,” he said. “My uncle was a pro and I always wanted to do it. Golf is part of your life and it becomes part of your lifestyle.”
Jeff’s uncle, Mike Gove, played on the PGA Tour in the 1980s and is the long-time PGA head professional at Inglewood Golf Club north of Seattle, the same course where the younger Gove learned how to play the game. Jeff’s mother, Marsha, was the office manager of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association for 23 years before retiring in 2008. Marsha is still a member at Inglewood.
Being born with a clubfoot didn’t deter Jeff from pursuing his dream of playing golf and he went on to play at Pepperdine University, graduating in 1994 and turning pro the following year. He learned quickly how tough the pro tour was.
“You make 90 percent of your money, 10 percent of the time,” he said. “The key is to come through when you’re in contention.” Gove also believes that the up-and-comers on the Korn Ferry Tour are fighting for the toughest dollar in golf these days.
A winner of six professional tournaments, Jeff had five separate stints on the PGA Tour, won the Washington Open twice (1995, 2012), and qualified for the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2007.
He admits to missing the competition “a little bit.” In fact, he played in three tournaments this past fall, including the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, a tournament he won in 2015. Last September he qualified for the 2020 PGA Professional Championship, to be held in Texas in April.
And he hasn’t ruled out playing the PGA Tour Champions at some point.
“Who knows,” he says, “maybe in a couple of years I’ll give it a try. Playing golf has given me a great lifestyle and I love being around it.”
But in the near future Gove hopes to continue giving lessons and setting up golf outings for club members and local businesses. “Maybe I’ll even help coach my son’s golf team and my daughter’s soccer team,” he said. And of course there’s skiing this winter at nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort. “My family loved it,” he recalled, “especially since coming from the desert in southern California.”
Rob Lundgren is a freelance golf writer in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. He is a former news reporter for The Idaho Press-Tribune.