By: Skyler Street
50 Words or Less
Measuring well over 7000 yards with bunkers and greens as big as your local ice rink, The Brute at Grand Geneva is everything its name implies and is a true test of your complete golf game and mental fortitude.
Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin hosts two wonderful golf courses, The Highlands and The Brute. If you haven’t read the earlier review of The Highlands, which includes the pro-shop and the resort, click HERE.
Before I get started on the course, it has to be said that the golf carts at Grand Geneva come equipped with the best GPS system I have ever used. You can get yardages from any location to every spot of the hole, as well as flyover videos that let you preview the hole. The system also lets you have a running scoreboard that would allow you to see how you stand in a tournament or company outing.
Fun. Fun. Fun. My wife, who came with me on this review, isn’t the biggest golfer, but she was laughing and giggling all day as she zipped up and down the fairway. They might not be for everyone, but for some they can completely revitalize the golf experience.
The Brute is as if someone took a layout of a conventional golf course and said, “Okay, now lets just make everything 10x the size.” This Bruce Harris design features massive bunkers, huge greens, sloping tree lined fairways, and high-elevated tee shots. The Brute requires you to be long and straight off the tee, and if you struggle out of the sand, you might as well bring your towel and sun tan lotion.
The Lake and Bunkers
Before we get into the infamous bunkers, let talk about water. Several holes on the course feature forced carries and thin fairways that hug the water line. Holes 9 and 18 make excellent use of a lake shoreline that comes in near the green and presents daunting approach shots even after a good drive.
The most evident features of The Brute are the massive bunkers that make their presence known on every hole. While the size is impressive, it’s really the shape that makes them stand out. Many “large” bunkers, like those featured on a Pete Dye course, may be long and flowing, but The Brute’s bunkers are of a traditional shape and put in traditional areas, just 10x the size. It’s an odd feeling to land in a green-side bunker then have a 40 yard shot because the golf ball has rolled that far back into the sand.
If someone told you they hit 14/18 Greens In Regulation during a round, you would assume they scored fairly well. However, when the average green covers 8,000 sq. ft., hitting the putting surface just isn’t enough.
Multiple times during the round I found myself staring down 80 ft putts that added a lot of strokes to my card. Luckily the slopes on the greens at The Brute are fairly tame and mostly feature holes with a back-to-front break. Like the bunkers, the greens have traditional shapes but seem abnormal because of their stunning size.
Tee Shots and Approaches
Severe downhill lie, into the wind, 205 carry, and the green is elevated 40 yards with thick rough and a stream to cross. These were my circumstances after a good drive and solid lay up on the 6th hole. Did I mention The Brute is tough? Even with a good drive, the approach shots can be extremely difficult due to the elevation change and surrounding hazards.
When they arrive on a high elevated tee box, most golfers feel the need to take out driver and blast one as far as they can. At The Brute, that is the smart play because you NEED to hit driver, and you NEED to hit it straight. This course demands length and accuracy off the tee if you want anything close to par. Going offline with the tee shot offers no chance to recover and can quickly raise your score.
The Brute is an extremely challenging course that requires your game to be firing on all cylinders to score well. That being said, the course and surrounding area is gorgeous and meticulously maintained. The lake, trees, and rolling hills offer beautiful views and a nice break after sweating over a four-putt. While it may not be an “everyday” course due to its difficulty, The Brute is definitely a fun and engaging experience that every golfer should try.