Jeff Heilbrun: In Defense of Play
Jeff Heilbrun grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he didn’t fish. Or golf. Now he lives in Jackson, Wyoming, and does both. Plus he hikes and skis.
On his way to a lifestyle of play, he dabbled in the defense industry — all the while knowing his desire to settle in the West was just as grand as the peaks he stares at on his way to work. “The Snake River Sporting Club is really unmatched,” says Heilbrun, Snake River Sporting Club executive vice president and director of sales. “It sits on 6 miles of the Snake River surrounded by Bridger-Teton National Forest. It’s a special place in a sublime location.”
"Our golf is world class, but we’re more than golf. The world has changed, and people’s lives have changed. Golf, while still popular, is a time commitment, and time is a rare commodity. Especially time with family."
That special place turned into his office in 2013 when Heilbrun accepted an offer to run the 1,000-acre Snake River Sporting Club. Heilbrun originally moved to Wyoming in 1987 and met his wife, Tracey. The couple moved away for work but kept their Wyoming home. When Heilbrun accepted the club’s offer, they came back to Wyoming for good.
The Snake River Sporting Club is a private development for landowners who want more than the traditional country club offerings. The property’s No. 1 golf course in the state is a given. The amenities are the draw: fly-fishing, archery, tennis, horseback riding, boating, skiing and more. “You can do all of those things and never leave,” he says. “Our golf is world class, but we’re more than golf. The world has changed, and people’s lives have changed. Golf, while still popular, is a time commitment, and time is a rare commodity. Especially time with family.”
Heilbrun’s seven-year foray into the defense industry isn’t surprising given that his father was a World War II pilot. He grew up with a love for airplanes. When he graduated with a business degree from The Ohio State University the defense industry was booming, and he quickly snatched up a job in Goodyear’s aerospace division.
“It gave a young guy out of college a lot of experience and that was something I just gobbled up,” he says. “I enjoyed my trips to Air Force bases and D.C. It was a good run, yet there was always this thing out here in Wyoming that was drawing me.”
The idea of recreating for a living eventually lured the city boy into the West’s wild heritage. Now Heilbrun spends dozens of days outside including his birthday. “My birthday is in the fall, and every year I take that day off to fish,” Heilbrun says.
“I have no problem envisioning how my retirement is going to look. But I love Snake River Sporting Club so I’m not going to rush retirement, and I’m still feeling challenged. This is just so different than city life. It wasn’t my intention to end up out here, but I did and I’m so glad I pulled the trigger when I did.”