Geneva National Gift Guide

I was wandering the Internet last night, and came across the following: A holiday gift guide from Geneva National:

With a standard rate of $109 per round at their three great signature courses (Palmer, Player, Trevino), they are actually offering a guaranteed rate all season of $79, and for each $100 spent on gift cards you also receive a $20 gift card to the Hunt Club.

If you have not had a chance to check out the courses at Geneva National yet, take a look at all three in the following links:

The Hunt Club is Geneva National’s new on-site dining option, and is one of the Lake Geneva area’s top steak houses. I put some info on the Hunt Club in my most recent article about Geneva National, here:

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.

Big Golf Weekend at Geneva National

If there is one thing that gets me up and out of the house before 6 am, it’s golf. Tomorrow morning, five friends of mine and I will be heading down to Lake Geneva to play 36 holes at a resort that I have always loved: Geneva National.

Unfortunately, the Palmer course is for “Members only” tomorrow, but we’ll be playing the Trevino and Player courses, and I am really looking forward to it! This will be my first time playing the Trevino course, and I’ve heard mostly good things.

This will also present me with the chance to take new pictures of the Gary Player course, which will replace the ones on my current review of it, located here:

Nick, Mike, Dave, Paul, Dan and Jeff on Player 10th hole
My swing feels really good lately, and I’ll be playing with some talented golfers, so I’m hoping to shoot low this weekend!

Golf Course Review: Geneva National Arnold Palmer Course

Golf season has come early this year, and that brings a lot of happiness to golf enthusiasts like myself. It also means an extended period of time for early-season rates, and one of the best early-season rates in the state can be found at Geneva National Golf Club, in Lake Geneva.

Located an hour south of Milwaukee, Lake Geneva is a bustling border town from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During the off-season, though, it is a near ghost town, leaving world-class courses with tee times to fill. This is great news for those of us who cannot afford to pay over $100 per round, and a perfect excuse to make your way toward the Wisconsin/Illinois border to play one of Wisconsin’s most prestigious golf resorts.
Geneva National features a trio of 18-hole championship courses designed by three of golf’s all-time greatest players and designers: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino. I am utterly infatuated with the designs of the Palmer and Player courses, but have yet to play the Trevino. I am told it is more heavily wooded than the other two, though, and it has been open for members only the times I have been on-site.
What kind of deals can you expect at Geneva National this time of year? Through the end of April, you can play any of their three courses for just $40, including cart, from Monday through Thursday. Weekends go up to $60, which is still a far cry from their $120-130 regular season rates.
Both the Player and Palmer courses are already in fantastic shape, and each course has a number of extremely memorable individual holes.
With as impressed as I was with the Player course, I was even more so with Palmer, which was named the state’s tenth best course by GolfWeek for 2012. Arnie’s use of the land on this track is fantastic, and creates several very different feels within one round: From a wide-open, strategic feel toward the beginning, to some very challenging forested holes in the middle, and then several difficult water holes interspersed.
No “water hole” is more beautiful, maybe in the entire state (I have to remind you that I have yet to play the Straits Course), than Palmer’s signature 17th. Following a long, heavily guarded par three 16th that finishes on the shoreline of Lake Como, the 17th sets up much like the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. The tee boxes are alongside the shoreline, and anything hit left will find the lake while the right side is out of bounds. Take it from me, who was putting together a pretty good round until I found the lake three times off the tee. The hole finishes some 530 yards down the shoreline, and the lake guards it all.
Hole 17: Par 5 (573/530/485/421/406)
Hole 17: Par 5 (573/530/485/421/406)
Hole 17: Par 5 (573/530/485/421/406)
From the first tee boxes, with a short tee shot and dogleg right, the Palmer course demands accuracy off the tees. A long iron or fairway wood will set up an approach that is well-guarded by a small creek and heavily sloped green. The homes along this hole and much of the course are absolutely beautiful, but far enough from the playing surface to not impose on the actual golfing.
Hole 1: Par 4 (387/365/330/287/268)
The second hole is beautiful this time of year, with spring time showing its early style in white budded trees. The fairway rolls downhill and right just left of these trees, and leads to a green that is very difficult to hold. One of the most impressive features of this course is how true the greens roll. They are quick, but can be read decisively.
Hole 2: Par 4 (407/379/367/280/247)
With tee boxes currently under repair, the third hole has become a short par three by any standards. At 110 yards uphill, a short wedge should do the job, but make sure to get enough distance to carry the deep front-side sand traps.
Hole 3: Par 3 (171/161/151/107/90)
The fourth is a fun par five that is quite reachable in two. A cut drive can get great fairway position, while hitting anything too long and straight is likely to find out of bounds.
Hole 4: Par 5 (539/504/471/409/401)
Hole 4: Par 5 (539/504/471/409/401)
I remember watching Tom Sutton play the beautiful sixth hole at the Player course on Midwest Classic Golf several years ago, and thought to myself that I have got to play this course. From highly elevated tee boxes, fairway position is absolutely crucial on this hole. The dogleg left leads to a tight green area heavily shrouded in trees.
Hole 6: Par 4 (387/364/332/291/254)
Hole 6: Par 4 (387/364/332/291/254)
Hole 6: Par 4 (387/364/332/291/254)
Eight is one of the Palmer course’s four spectacular par threes. With water lining the entire right side, the eighth is long and in an open area that is heavily influenced by wind.
Hole 8: Par 3 (227/195/177/148/142)
The eleventh hole has one of the narrowest fairways on the course, but leaves plenty of room to miss without going out of bounds. The large swale in the fairway approach area leads to an extremely elevated green that adds at least a club to any second shot.
Hole 11: Par 4 (428/400/360/318/290)
The twelfth hole is a short par four, but one of the most demanding on the Palmer course. With two separate sets of tee boxes, each requires a long iron to get through the trees and up to a crowned, blinded fairway. Hitting driver here can hit the downhill slope and find the pond that fronts the green, while hitting too short can leave a long uphill approach that is liable to roll back downhill toward the hazard.
Hole 12: Par 4 (395/367/334/290/267)
Leaving the twelfth hole and rounding the corner to thirteen gives a glimpse at another gorgeous par three. With water front, right and long, the smart play is to the left side of the green.
Hole 13: Par 3 (184/173/157/139/97)
With another demanding tee shot, the fourteenth is the most heavily wooded hole on the Palmer course. To add to that difficulty, it is also long – 578 yards from the black tees, and 540 or 471 from the golds or whites, respectively. With a sharp dogleg left after the tee shot, this is a three-shot par five for anyone.
Hole 14: Par 5 (578/540/471/442/404)
The fifteenth through eighteenth holes here are three of my absolute favorites, and one of my favorite collections of consecutive holes in the state. The tee shot on fifteen is highly elevated, and has water on the right side of the dogleg right’s bend. This was the only hole I birdied the last time we played the Palmer, so I am obviously a big fan of it.
Hole 15: Par 4 (393/371/347/325/285)
The tee shot on the sixteenth hole is absolutely gorgeous, and shows signature Palmer style. A long par three that plays from 204 yards from the gold tees, the sixteenth goes straight to the Lake Como shoreline, with the back of the green dropping off sharply in to the lake. The first time I played it I actually hit the middle of the green, only to get to the green to find it in the water.
Hole 16: Par 3 (218/204/177/156/141)
Hole 16: Par 3 (218/204/177/156/141)
Eighteen is an excellent finishing hole. At “only” 402 yards from the gold tees, it plays nicely for a last hole of the day. The driving area is absolutely littered with sand, but anything not on the beach will leave an excellent opportunity for a birdie putt.
Hole 18: Par 4 (435/402/357/336/272)
Not only does Geneva National offer a fantastic early season rate for some of the area’s best golfing, but it is also probably the friendliest course I have ever visited. Every staff member, from the bag drop to the guys who clean your clubs afterwards, has been incredibly welcoming and helpful.
If you are looking for some outstanding golf courses to check out this early season, take my recommendation and pay a visit to Geneva National. It is a bit of a trek from the Milwaukee area, but their early-season rates are some of the best values I have found in a while.
Course Wrap-up:
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Yardage: Black-7,171, Gold-6,638, White-6,057, Gray-5,372, Red-4,904
Slope/Rating: Black-140/74.7, Gold-134/72.2, White-128/69.4, Gray-127/70.8, Red-122/68.5
Par: 72
Weekend Rates (riding): $130

Golf Course Review: Geneva National Gary Player Course

Geneva National is a lot of things. First and foremost, it is a fantastic facility with three championship golf courses designed by three of golf’s all-time legends: Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, and Lee Trevino.

Geneva National is also the most friendly golf course I have ever been to. Without provocation, I was bombarded with friendly conversation from everybody there, starting with I.C. in the clubhouse, Del the starter, several people at the practice range, and ending with Zoltan at the end of our round. Geneva National is a very warm and welcoming course, set amidst the otherwise sometimes stodgy community of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Low fall rates and mid-50’s weather made today’s trip a must-play. Ask three people which of the three courses at Geneva National is best, and you will likely get three different answers. The Gary Player course is the best rated on whole, though, so we chose this track today. Next season, I would like to get a stay-and-play package together to check out the other two, as well.

The Player course starts with a beautiful par four overlooking Lake Como. Downhill with a tight fairway, the first concludes over a small creek and wide fescue area. If you are going to miss the fairway, miss left.

Hole 1: Par 4 (394/347/325/305/280)

The second hole is the first of the five par fives on the Player course, and is the longest. The tee shot is from before a large pond, but this should not come in to play off the tee. Stay right if you are going to miss the fairway, as the left side will lock out any potential approach.

Heading over another, much larger pond, the fairway runs massively uphill and to the left. This is a tough approach to hit, although the slight upward slope will help hold the green.

Hole 2: Par 5 (588/549/522/432/410)
Hole 2: Par 5 (588/549/522/432/410)

The par four third hole on the Player course reminds me a lot of a similar hole at ThunderHawk. This is a tight par four with a fairway that must be hit for any chance at a green in regulation (unless you are my friend who hit the fairway to the right, then miraculously flew the woods to hit the green in two).

Hole 3: Par 4 (427/388/375/356/306)

The first of five par threes on the course is a short one, at just 132 yards from the gold tees. The green is deceptively farther than it looks, though, as the mounding short and to the left is placed well before the putting surface.

Hole 4: Par 3 (148/132/118/104/90)
Hole 4: Par 3 (148/132/118/104/90)

Hole five on the Player course is an instant classic! A true risk/reward hole, the fairway in front of the green is drivable, but requires at least 225 yards to carry the waste area and fingered sand traps. The bail-out fairway to the right is much more accessible, although it adds considerably to the hole’s yardage.

The green’s front-right bunker is deep, and woods to the left must also be considered if going for this green from the tee. At 310 yards from the gold boxes, this is one of the best short par fours I have ever seen or played.

Hole 5: Par 4 (354/310/283/257/255)
Hole 5: Par 4 (354/310/283/257/255)

The second of Player’s par threes is one of my favorites on the course. From elevated tee boxes, the tee shot is fairly long and can be heavily wind-influenced. At 178 yards from the gold tees, the majority of that yardage must be carried to get over the pond and pre-green sand trap.

Hole 6: Par 3 (195/178/165/125/98)

The seventh is an excellent par four that demands a long iron or fairway wood from the tee. The fairway runs laterally on the opposite side of a huge natural grass area, and the distance off the tee will increase as the right side of the fairway is chopped off. The best play is just right of the mid-way sand traps, which will best set up a delicate approach to the green. The fairway is narrow and lined with forest on both sides.

Hole 7: Par 4 (410/401/389/360/287)

Hole eight is another really nice par five, and is the number one handicapped hole on the Player course. The fairway runs to the left, but not as far left as it appears.

Avoid cutting the corner at the tree line, as this should lead to a lost ball. Aim left of the far sand traps for excellent placement on the second shot. A pond runs along the right side of the approach area, and leads to a rather small, two-tiered green. The hole drops off post-green, so be sure not to overhit the approach.

Hole 8: Par 5 (566/524/514/474/409)
Hole 8: Par 5 (566/524/514/474/409)
Hole 8: Par 5 (566/524/514/474/409)

The ninth ends the front nine is terrific fashion. The tee shot looks narrower than it actually is, as the fairway runs right and slightly uphill. The green is surrounded by sand, especially on the far side, making the traps beyond the green brutal to play from.

Hole 9: Par 4 (474/455/428/382/296)
Hole 9: Par 4 (474/455/428/382/296)

As the front nine ends in terrific fashion, the back nine begins spectacularly. The tenth hole features highly-elevated tee boxes with woods to the left and a hugely downhill drive.

Find the fairway on the drive and get great roll to set up a chance at hitting this green in two. The shot over the pond is long, and the landing area is largely populated with sand. The finish of this hole reminds me of the 18th from Castle at the Bay, requiring a long shot over water and staggered bunkers. The green is multi-tiered, as many of the greens at Geneva National are.

Hole 10: Par 5 (552/511/495/462/405)
Hole 10: Par 5 (552/511/495/462/405)
Hole 10: Par 5 (552/511/495/462/405)

Following this awesome par five is a tough par four. The majority of the landing area on the 11th is littered with fairway bunkers. Large mounds and an uphill fairway make the approach difficult, as the right side cuts off quickly and falls into the woods. Although short, this is not an easy par four.

Hole 11: Par 4 (366/360/337/313/291)
Hole 11: Par 4 (366/360/337/313/291)

Keeping with the theme of tough par fours, twelve is one of the toughest to be found anywhere. At 433 yards from the gold tees, it looks simple enough from the tee boxes. The entire right side of the driving area might as well be a black hole, though.

Aim significantly left on this fairway to avoid dropping three. If the drive goes over the three trees on the right side, there will be little chance of salvaging par. The twelfth is one of the holes showcased on the drive to the clubhouse, so get a good look at it coming in so you’ll have an idea of what you’re facing when teeing up.

Hole 12: Par 4 (470/433/397/377/357)
The thirteenth on the Player course is a downhill par three that plays short… Very short. The score card says 147, but the tees were set around 120. From well above the green, this equated to a delicate wedge shot that [for me] was caught by the wind and slung in to the woods. This is a gorgeous tee shot, but very awkward distance.
Hole 13: Par 3 (169/147/122/120/113)

Fourteen is the fourth of the Player course’s par fives. A sharp dogleg left, the drive is the key to a chance for birdie or eagle. The tee boxes are risen well above the fairway, and forest lines both sides. A narrow stream zig-zags before the green, and the subtle slope of it is a bit tougher than it initially seams. This is certainly a birdie-able hole.

Hole 14: Par 5 (526/468/445/419/364)

To me, the fifteenth is the most non-descript hole on the course. A mid-range par three, there is little to be concerned about. At 156 yards, the green is slightly uphill which added a club and a half to hit.

Hole 15: Par 3 (186/156/133/115/105)

Sixteen is sensational. With tee boxes overlooking Lake Como, the drive is as long as you can make it. There is no trouble for 500 yards, but take a hard look from the tees at what this trouble will look like. It is difficult to tell from the approach that it will be as tough as it is.

From the playing surface, the pond in front of the green looks like a small, carry-able fescue area, but turns out to be a fairly significant pond. Club up once or twice to stay dry.

Hole 16: Par 5 (556/534/514/462/429)

The seventeenth is the longest of the par threes on the Player course. At 187 yards from the gold tees, be sure not to hook this tee shot. Anything else should play fine.

Hole 17: Par 3 (223/187/159/133/116)
Hole 17: Par 3 (223/187/159/133/116)

The eighteenth is the second short par four on the course. At 337 yards from the gold tees, the green appears to be drivable, but with a prevailing wind in to the tee boxes, was not. Our closest shot was a good 30 yards downhill from the putting surface, which led to an easy par. I am a big fan of short closing holes – who doesn’t like a decent chance for a low number to end their round?

Hole 18: Par 4 (404/337/293/266/212)
Hole 18: Par 4 (404/337/293/266/212)

Geneva National’s $125 summer rates make it a difficult play for young folks like myself, but with sub-$40 [almost] off-season rates, it has to be taken advantage of! This is one of the courses I will be setting money aside for to check out more of in 2012. Their stay-and-play packages look semi-affordable, and with three world-class courses on location, this is an ideal spot for a great weekend get-away.

Take a look at the comprehensive course previews on Grand Geneva’s web site, and choose the track that looks best to you. All three look fantastic. I am told the Player course, ranked 2010’s tenth best course you can play in Wisconsin, is the most fun track, while the Palmer is the best golf layout. The Trevino course looks heavily wooded, and tight, and I am told has the most difficult greens of the three courses at Geneva National. I look forward to finding out more about the other two next season.

Course Wrap-up:
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Yardage: Black-7008, Gold-6417, White-6014, Gray-5462, Red-4823
Slope/Rating: Black-141-74.3, Gold-133/71.5, 130/69.7, Gray-128/72.0, Red-120/68.4
Par: 72
Weekend Rates: $130