The General Golf Course Review

The General-2635

The General
at Eagle Ridge Resorts and Spa
Galena, Illinois

Grade: A
Teacher’s Comments: I loved this course.

The General is the signature course at the Eagle Ridge Resorts and Spa near Galena, Illinois (which boasts 63 holes on 3.5 courses). It offers an adventurous and fun round, with lots of variety and challenge. 

Designed by Roger Packard and Andy North, the course plays over a wide expanse of wilderness. The architects took full advantage of the hilly, wooded terrain to send golfers uphill and down, across ravines, along ridges and down into bottom land. With all the space available, it was apparent to me that this is one of those courses where the holes were “found” rather than constructed. Most of the holes stand on their own, with little intrusion.

Although I’m a dedicated walker, I took one look at the holes I could see from the clubhouse and decided to ride a cart. To my embarrassment, I later ran across a group that included an 83 year old walking and pushing a cart.

As befits a course called The General, the tees are designated as one to four stars. From the Four Star tees, The General stretches to 6,820 yards and plays to a 142/73.2. I think the two star tees, at 6,006 yards and playing to a 133/69.5 are more than enough for most golfers.

It is especially important to play the correct tees at The General because of all the forced carries. Thirty yards could be the differences between a fun hole and a triple bogey. I found significant carries on fourteen of the holes.  Many of those carries also involve major elevation changes.

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As befits a resort course, fairways were quite generous.

Because of the elevation changes, approach shots approach shots also were tricky. Having not played the course before, I found myself consistently over- and under-clubbing. That left me often having to chip back or up. I would not make those mistakes the second time around.

The greens, on the other hand, were very fair. The putts went where I thought they would; it was my misjudgments of the speed that cost me.

There are so many good holes at The General that it would be hard for me to pick a favorite … or two …. or three.

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I thought that the eighth (above), a 372 yard par four dogleg right was particularly fun. The tee shot must carry at least 160 over a ravine, and 230 or so is probably necessary for a decent shot at the green. The inside of the dogleg presents a precipitous drop into trees; the outside, a slope.. The end of the hole is framed beautifully by shelves of vertical rock—left from quarrying—that wrap around the green.

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The view on fourteen (above) is spectacular, as the tee box sits 180 feet above the fairway. and the back and forth cart descent along the steep cliff face is a little scary. You don’t want to be buzzed from the beer when you try this. With the elevation and the relatively short 357 yard length, this is actually a drivable possibility.

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The 18th is an interesting hole. It’s a 532 yard par 5, with a split fairway that comes into play on the second shot. From the middle tees, the hole requires a 220 yard carry over a ravine. From there, the hole presents the question of whether to go left or right. That all depends upon how far you’re hitting the ball, and where the hole is located. Lots of strategic decisions on that one.

Conditions on the day I visited were resort quality, with spotless greens, nearly spotless fairways and great tee boxes. The rough was thick and lush.

The General was a great course that I would love to play again.

More photos of the course follow.

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