Our first stop on our Southern Wisconsin Golf Trip was Geneval National Golf Club in Lake Geneva, WI. Known for 54 holes of Championship Golf designed by the Legends of the game (Palmer, Player and Trevino), you could hardly go wrong. We started with 18 on the Gary Player design that we played from about 6,500 yards. A beautiful view of Lake Como from the very first tee box indicated this would be a fun round. With greens that rolled smooth a true, it was going to be fun to see some birdie and par putts roll in (at least that’s what we were hoping for).
The course really started to get fun at the 310-yard, Par-4, 5th hole. The card said 310 yards but it was playing a bit shorter due to the wind so there were multiple options off the tee. You have a clear look at the green from the tee but have to carry about 240 yards over a ball gobbling ravine with bunkers all over the area short of the green so hit the landing area or have a really tough 2nd shot. If you went the more conventional route out to the right you could hit a long iron, hybrid, fairway wood or driver, depending on what was working that day, leaving you a mid-iron to a chip shot left into the green. I went for the green, just hoping to land in grass and not sand, which I did, leaving about a 40 yard pitch to the elevated green with the pin on an upper tier with no room behind it. Despite the yardage, par was not a bad score here.
I think my favorite hole on the course was the Par-5, 10th hole. Playing downhill the entire way, distance was less of a priority than accuracy, because even a mildly struck tee shot gave you a choice to go for the green in 2. The challenge here is the pond guarding 70 yards short and everything right of the green. Just aiming for the green took courage which none of us in our group had, so we all hit pin high but left of the green giving us a variety of pitch shots on our 3rd. My downhill, fairway lie was not easy with a huge slope in front of me while my partner’s uphill lie made for a much friendlier shot. Ultimately he had 5 feet and I had 15 for birdie, which we both rolled in, thanks to those smooth greens I referenced earlier.
The very next hole seemed harmless on the scorecard, but with the pin being tucked front right, those 360 yards became more formidable. Our tee was even up a bit so a good tee ball left only a short sand wedge approach but the challenge was the flag was nearly hidden by a hill short of the green and the sliver of green we had to work with was running away from the hole so getting it close from only 70 yards seemed almost impossible. Our lag putts from between 12 and 20 feet were way harder than we thought and two of the group walked away with three-putts.
You can tell that Gary Player does not require a championship course to be loaded with 400+ yard Par-4’s which was evident by the finishing hole. Only 337 from the middle tee, again you had numerous choices off the box again but it was wide enough to still hit driver. Avoid the bunkers down the left and again you had a short wedge into the green that was deep, making it hard to get it all the way to the back pin location.
The Gary Player Course provided a ton of shot assortment and value, using every club in the bag multiple times and forcing you to think about each shot from the tee. Wonderfully manicured, especially the smooth and fast greens, make Geneva National a tremendous test of golf and one that could do so for several days if not an entire week, mixing in a little boating. We look forward to a return trip to Lake Geneva and Geneva National to try out the other acclaimed courses by Trevino and Palmer very soon.
For more information on Geneval National Golf Club, check out www.genevanationalresort.com.