By Scott Taylor | @Taylor_Sports
For a few years I had wanted to play The General at Eagle Ride Resort and Spa in Galena. It is safe to say I was not disappointed.
Just looking out at the first hole from the clubhouse I was excited with what was in store. My favorite courses are ones with great elevation changes and scenery and this no doubt fit the bill.
The first hole started with a sharp elevation change, a drop from the tee box to the fairway, allowing the hole to play much shorter than the 378-yard gold tees, which are the three-star ratings out of four. It would be the best hole at many golf courses, but here, it was just one of the better ones.
Next was a 528-yard par-5, which played mostly straight but played to a tight fairway all the way to the green. The third hole is a 143-yard downhill par-3 with water to the right and bunkers to the front and left, making it a much harder hole than the scorecard suggests.
A short fourth hole at 354 yards is a slight dogleg left, with bunkers guarding a straight shot to the right side of the fairway. That is followed by the hardest hole on the front nine, a 418-yard par-4. It is a dogleg left with trees lining the dogleg on the left and a tree that can get in the way of an approach shot to the right. There is a gully below the tree, meaning balls that hit the tree could be in big trouble.
The sixth hole is a dogleg right par-5 at 479 yards, with water guarding the dogleg. Long and brave hitters may be able to cut off the dogleg a bit to make the green reachable in two.
A slightly uphill par-3 seventh hole is just 130 yards, but has trouble all around it in long, thick grass.
The eighth hole is a 306-yard dogleg right par-4 with a treelined to the right of the dogleg. A safe play out to the left makes the hole much longer, while a gutsy play to the right of the fairway can lead to a short wedge into the green, which is guarded by a stone wall behind the green, adding to the character.
The front nine finishes with a 390-yard par-4, which is uphill and plays longer than the distance. It also takes a good hit to get it to the fairway over some unplayable grass and a long approach shot is played to a green covered by a bunker.
The back nine starts with a 361-yard par-4, which doglegs right. Both sides of the fairway are lined with trees. No. 11 is a large drop par-3 at 152 yards. It plays much less than that due to the sharp drop from the tee to the green.
Next is a 466-yard par-5, which is reachable in two. However, it is tight and there is plenty of trouble around it to keep it from being easy. That is followed by a 423-yard par-4 that doglegs right and is lined with trees. It is rated the most difficult hole on the course.
The best hole on the course, in my opinion, is next. A par-4, 341-yard hole that is straight downhill. It is such a deep drop that the green is nearly reachable off the tee. From the tee you can also see some great scenery off in the distance from the course and beyond. It is truly a much-see hole.
The 15th hole is 170 yards that has a bunker in front of it. That is followed by a 380-yard hole that doglegs left and plays uphill to the green.
The closing holes feature a tight, 361-yard hole and a 500-yard par-5 with split fairways to land your second shot.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the course were the slow greens.Typically at a course like this the greens are lightning quick, but this wasn’t the case. However, there were many slopes on both the greens and fairways that made things difficult, helping to contribute to a 136 slope from the gold tees.
Prime weekday fees are $135, so you will want to be sure to let the views sink in. In the evenings the rates can get down to $60, which is too good to pass up.
We played in the late afternoon and only saw one group the entire time. When the sun came out on the back nine the course felt as peaceful and beautiful as any course I have ever played. There was even a hot air ballon which flew over us on the 18th hole as the sun was beginning to set, adding to the aura.
This course is a must play for all levels of golf fans. It isn’t quite as hard as anticipated, so even the novice can come out and enjoy his or her round. It is definitely worth full price to take a yearly trip out there. I imagine fall rates would be cheaper and I can only imagine how great it would be to play the course in the fall.