By: Skyler Street
50 Words or Less
Out of the two courses at the Grand Geneva Resort, the Highlands may leave you with the biggest smile long after the clubs are put away. Beautiful vistas combined with options galore from the tee make for a memorable and very satisfying round of golf.
If you drive north from Chicago for about an hour you’ll find yourself in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In the 60’s, this small town was dubbed as the “Play land for Chicago’s richest,” and they spared no expense when designing Grand Geneva Resort. The resort was originally designed and constructed as the first Playboy Club Hotel in the U.S., and it is as massive as it is beautiful with every kind of amenity you could think of. With wonderful options of restaurants and villas to stay in, the resort gives you every reason to stay and never leave.
Pro Shop & Practice Facilities
When you first arrive to the pro-shop, you can’t help but notice the massive putting green and wonder if it’s begging you to practice your 85 foot putts. You probably should. Behind the green is a small practice bunker and chipping green that gives you about 35 yards to hone your short game before the round.
Like everything at Grand Geneva resort, the practice range is huge. Not massive from back to front but from side to side. The tee boxes have to be almost 150 yards long and can accommodate hundreds of golfers at a time.
The pro shop could rival your local golf store with how many clubs it has along with endless options of apparel. Considering the positive reputation of the resort, you expect good customer service, but the pro shop staff was exemplary. They were attentive and made sure we had everything we needed to enjoy ourselves out on the course.
The Highlands course was originally a Pete Dye/Nicklaus design, but had a major overhaul in 1996 by Bob Cupp. I think the best description of this course is “memorable”. Every hole and tee shot stands out as being different from the last with a plethora of options.
What to do, what to do? This is the question you will ask yourself on almost every hole at The Highlands. With short par 4s and long, winding par 5s, almost all your clubs will be featured off the tee.
The rough is just wide enough that it doesn’t scare you away from the driver, but you realize that a 3 iron or hybrid will get the job done all the same. Holes 7-15 put you up in the hilltops with plenty of elevation change for fun booming tee shots, but the real challenge at The Highlands comes after you’re in the fairway.
While getting your ball into the fairway isn’t a huge task, getting the ball next to the flag can be. The Highlands offers tricky approaches with plenty of bunkers and elevation changes to make you sweat over those 120 yard wedge shots.
Most tee shots take you down in elevation, and the approaches bring you right back up again. Missing the greens makes for a tough up and down with several false fronts that could roll you back into the fairways another 30 yards.
If you’re able to land the tricky approach shot close, you will be rewarded with gentle greens that roll pure. There are a few holes that showcase large undulations, but for the most part they are straight forward and give you plenty of scoring opportunities.
This may be easy with other courses, but I struggled to pick out favorites at The Highlands because of the variety.
Hole #11 is a 600 yard par 5 that winds left, then right, then left again. You can try to cut corners with your driver or follow the snake-like fairway with irons up to a green with a very steep false front.
Hole #8 is a short par 4 at 345 yards that begs you to take driver off an elevated tee box through the trees, but a simple 4 iron or hybrid makes it a sensible PW to hit the green.
Wisconsin offers multiple high-end golf resorts that should be on every golfer’s list, and Grand Geneva Resort deserves to have a spot on that list. After the round was over, I found myself immediately wishing I could go back out and play The Highlands course one more time. Did it help that I played my best round of the year here? Maybe, but with so many options and beautiful views, it offers everything a golfer could ask for.