Geneva National: The Perfect In-State Getaway

Yesterday, my friend, Ross, and I had the opportunity to head to Lake Geneva for an amazing day of golf and dining.

Last year, Geneva National closed down their main on-site restaurant for major renovations, updating it to become the area’s premier steakhouse and a culinary destination for foodies from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas.

In the afternoon, we were treated to some of Wisconsin’s best golf on their feature course: The Gary Player signature course. Player was named the tenth best course in the state this year by GolfWeek, replacing the Palmer course which broke in to the top ten in 2013.

Both courses, as well as their Trevino course, are well-regarded as top tracks in the Lake Geneva area, and in the state of Wisconsin.

The Player course has a terrific mix of short and long par fours, reachable and unreachable par fives, and par threes that range from 148 to 223 yards. I always appreciate a course that understands that making all the par threes over 200 yards is not the best and most enjoyable way to lengthen it.

Player Course Hole 3: Par 3 (148/132/118/104/90)

Ross and I were up for a challenge, and decided to play the 7,000-plus yard black tees. We had a great start, getting in eight holes while hearing thunder all around, but seeing no lightning. Through eight, Ross had a two-stroke lead at 35, with one to play on the front.

Gary Player Course Hole 16: Par 5 (556/534/514/462/429)

One of Geneva National’s rangers, Jim, informed us before getting to the ninth tee box that we would have to return to the clubhouse and wait out the area’s severe weather.

We could tell it was coming, but the hour and a half spent in the rain delay meant we would be hard-pressed to finish the round and get to play one of my favorite stretches of golf holes in the state: The Palmer course’s 12th through 18th, prior to our five o’clock dinner reservations at the Hunt Club with Assistant Golf Professional Joe Keogh.

I called Joe and we decided to move the reservations back. We were able to get out on the course again, finished up the Player course – both shooting 83 from the tips – and called Joe for an update on our progress. Joe was able to meet us on the Palmer course, and we cruised around quickly with a mostly empty course during twilight.

We skipped a number of holes in anticipation of hoping to play the twelfth through eighteenth, finally running in to a log jam on fifteen and getting to take only pictures with a promise of getting back again this Fall to enjoy the breathtaking sixteenth and seventeenth holes along Lake Como.

The seventeenth, especially, we could tell really opened Ross’s eyes, who was at Geneva National for the first time. This par five, driven out over Lake Como and finishing on a tight peninsula, was named by Arnold Palmer as one of his “Dream 18” holes – the very best holes he has ever designed. I could not agree more and cannot wait to play it again!

Arnold Palmer Course Hole 17: Par 5 (579/536/478/419/407)

Prior to my trip, I had told a number of friends at North Hills Country Club about our itinerary for the day, and heard all positive things about the Hunt Club: “You have to try the prime rib,” “The fish is unbelievable,” “The best filet I’ve ever had,” “Get the duck, trust me!”

After ordering drinks and checking out the menu, to say I was conflicted on what to order is an understatement! Everything looked amazing, and the dishes I saw coming out of the kitchen left me asking, “Whoa, what is THAT?!”

Ross and I decided to split up the ordering duties: He got the prime rib special and I got the Chilean sea bass with braised short ribs so we could try out as much as possible.

We ordered a calamari appetizer, which was seasoned perfectly and unbelievably tender and tasteful. The owner of the resort’s son is actually a winemaker, and I recommend trying out his cabernet, which was delicious.

Everything about the dining experience was memorable: The seasonings, drinks, appetizers, fresh warm bread and entrees were delectable. I would go as far as to say it was the best meal I have had in years, as everything was perfectly done and presentable.

You cannot beat the views, either, with the par three sixth and the downhill, over water finish of the awesome par five tenth just outside the windows.

One of the things that has always impressed me about Geneva National is their high level of customer service. From Jim at the bag drop, to I.C. in the pro shop, to the starters and rangers like Jim and Jim, to Zoltan waiting at the clubhouse after the round to leave a great impression on golfers prior to their departure, and especially the overall attentiveness and personal attention from the golf professionals and food and beverage, the staff at Geneva National prides themselves on providing top-notch customer service. “What we try to teach staff is that it’s all about adding to every guest’s positive experience here,” I was told. I could not agree more, and it is a very refreshing outlook at one of the state’s best golfing destinations.
Assistant Golf Pro Joe Keogh, me and Ross at the Hunt Club

I cannot say enough how enjoyable yesterday was: With world-class golf courses, amazing cuisine, great company and quality golf played, I have to say that Geneva National may be my new favorite day trip in the state of Wisconsin.

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