50 Words or Less
The General at Eagle Ridge, located in Galena, Illinois, may be the most beautiful course in the state. A serious ball striking challenge from the tee and the into the greens.
The General, named for Galena’s most famous resident, Ulysses S. Grant, is the signature course at Eagle Ridge Resort. Like its namesake, this course is relentless in its challenge, and few golfers will walk away feeling that they’ve won the day. The General is, however, equal parts beast and beauty, boasting some of the best views in Illinois.
The General has a putting green located behind the clubhouse within a pitch of the first tee. Unfortunately, there is not a driving range on site. If you want to warm up your ball striking – and I strongly recommend you do – you’ll need to stop at the North Course, 3 miles up the road.
Customer Service & Amenities
The clubhouse at The General has one of the most unique silhouettes I’ve seen due to the inclusion of an old silo. Inside, you’ll find a well-stocked pro shop and the Woodstone restaurant. A meal before and/or after your round should not be missed, both for the excellent food and the panoramic views of the course.
Consistent with the rest of Eagle Ridge Resort, the customer service at The General is top notch. The moment I pulled into the lot, I was greeted by a staff member who took my clubs from the car and got them onto a cart. From the head pro to the wait staff to the grounds crew, everyone was friendly, helpful, and determined to make my experience enjoyable.
Beauty & Scenery
By and large, Illinois is a flat, Midwestern state. Galena is the exception, and The General makes great use of the elevation. The highlight is the tee shot on 14 (above). From this elevated perch, you can see three states – and a green that’s in play for long hitters.
The General doesn’t just rely on the natural elevation for visual interest. Holes like #8, above, have interesting, memorable green sites. There isn’t much water or sand on The General, which gives more weight to the bunkers and creeks that do come into play.
Most of The General is set in dense forest. This creates great drama when the course opens up at higher elevations.
Finally, the variety of native vegetation is shocking. I think that the plant life alone could make The General visually stirring even if it were flat.
With tees set at roughly 6,700, 6,300, 5,900, and 5,200 yards, many golfers will be tempted to play the tips. Unless you are either very long or very accurate, don’t do it. From the back tees, the visuals are daunting and the realities aren’t much friendlier.
Recreational golfers playing from the middle two tees will have an easier time but will still need to bring a strong effort. The fairways at The General are not wide, and there’s very limited room beyond them. Most holes have at least one side that is dead because of trees or tall grass. In some cases, both sides are effectively out of play. If that wasn’t enough for you, a number of holes feature some amount of forced carry off the tee.
Once you’re in the fairway, things get slightly easier. Outside of being uphill or downhill, the fairways are reasonably flat. Your main challenge will be adjusting your yardage for the elevation change.
The greens at The General are average in size, presenting reasonable targets. However, if you miss the green, all manner of large numbers are in play.
Before you pull a club or hit your approach shot, you need to carefully survey the area around the green. Tall rough can grow very near the greens, and you can easily lose a golf ball in it. If you have the choice between playing away from a bunker or away from the rough, play away from the rough.
Greens & Surrounds
Most holes at The General feature at least a small amount of fairway running up to the green. It doesn’t play firm and fast, so this area should be seen as a bailout zone, not a way to run the ball onto the green. Outside of these strips, most greens are surrounded by rough and a single bunker.
The greens are the one area where The General takes it easy on the golfer. Smooth and true, these greens are easy to read. The breaks are obvious but not dramatic, so three-putts should be extremely rare.
If you think of yourself as a quality ball striker, The General is a great place to put yourself to the test. It demands accuracy from the tee through the green and a solid game plan. If you can bring your A game, the greens will yield some birdies which will make the views seem even more beautiful.
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