Geneva National, Palmer Course: Worth the trip

By Scott Taylor


Approach shot on No. 17 has Lake Como behind the green.

Approach shot on No. 17 has Lake Como behind the green.

For the third year in a row, I ventured up to the beautiful Lake Geneva to review a course.

This year, however, I was on my own, but teamed up with a foursome of seniors who all shot in the 70s or 80s.

I took the trip to Geneva National Golf Club, which has three courses created by famous pro golfers: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino.

On this trip I played the Arnold Palmer course and enjoyed the scenery and the challenges.

It all starts on the range with a breathtaking view of Lake Como in the background.

The first hole is a preview of things to come – a dogleg. It is a short par-4 with a creek in front of the green. A solid tee shot and the hole plays as one of the easier holes on the course, but a very nice hole nonetheless.

The second hole is another dogleg right that plays short as well and has ample space for a drive. The approach shot though is deceiving as the ball will run to the back of the green if you hit the green in the front. I thought my sand wedge shot was going to finish in the front of the green and have a 30-foot putt. However, it rolled all the way past the hole and I had a 10-foot birdie putt. The green is quick the other way as well as it is still downhill from the back.

The third hole is an uphill par-3 with bunkers in front of the green and a very fast green the slopes back to front.

A par-5 fourth hole features another dogleg right with bunkers around the green. The fifth hole is a dogleg left that is very hard to hit the fairway on as you have to carry the bunker on the left and if you do, it is hard to stay in the fairway.

The sixth hole is a downhill tee shot on a par-4 and that leads to a reachable par-5 with a major sloped green and a big bunker in front of the green.

The front nine finishes with a par-3 over water and a par-4 that has a rolling fairway that is tight in spots.

The 10th hole is a straightaway par-4 that is uphill at the green, making it a fairly long hole. That leads to another straight hole, the 11th, which is a tough fairway to hit and has a tree on the left side of the fairway, blocking shots that are on the left side of the fairway or in the rough.

That leads to a downhill approach shot at the par-4 12th that has water on the front right of the green. More water comes into play at the par-3 13th as it covers the right and front portions of the green.

The 14th is a tricky par-5 as shots right can end up in the trees, while shots left can lead to block approach shots. The 15th is a dogleg right that has plenty of room to bail out to the left, making it a longer hole, or you can play close to the water on the right and have a much shorter approach.

That sets up a spectacular couple of holes. The 16th is a par-3 that has the lake in the background but doesn’t really come into play. The bunkers in front of both sides of the green do come into play though.

Then comes the 17th hole, which is a dogleg left par-5 that runs along the lake. The green is surprisingly right along the lake and any shot that goes long, or even is coming into the green fast, could go into the water. It is great to take a moment on the hole and enjoy the scenery on the hole.

The 18th hole goes back to the clubhouse and is a difficult hole with bunkers all around the fairway and green. A good drive can easily end up in a fairway bunker.

Overall, the course is a joy to play. It offers a challenge as even from the white tees it has a 128 slope. The course plays fair tee to green, but the greens can be challenging with the slopes and speed. They do you no favors with some of the pin placements, either, as I saw many good puts run 5-10 feet by the hole, which can become frustrating.

In April you can play the course for $49 during the week and $59 on the weekend. It goes up to $69-89 in the spring season and $75-109 in the summer, which goes from June 5-Sept. 27.

With the difficult greens and a lot of guests playing the course, it can take some time to play. Our round took five hours. The best bet would be to stay the night there and get an early bird tee time and save some money, as it is pricey in peak times.

If you are able to go in the spring or fall, it offers a great deal if the weather cooperates.

If you are a golfer who likes great views and/or challenging greens, this is your course. I would recommend this course as a must-play for many golfers, but for those who struggle on the greens, I would recommend improving first to get a full enjoyment out of the round.

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