Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
About Lake GenevaLake Geneva is less than 90 minutes from Chicago and even closer to Milwaukee, but it's a world away. The 9-mile-long lake is surrounded by a historic town, some of the best golf courses in Wisconsin, a four-star resort that began as a Playboy Club resort, and a string of enormous summer mansions built ín the 1800s by Americas most famous industrialists.
Lake Geneva's roots as a playground for the rich began after the Civil War with such illustrious visitors as Mary Todd Lincoln and Generals Sherman and Sheridan. The area's influx of the wealthy accelerated after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, when the Windy City's barons stayed at their summer homes in Lake Geneva while Chicago was rebuilt. Some never left and the area became known as the Newport, R.I., of the West.
Today, you can gawk at those mansions to your heart's content, thanks to the Geneva Lake Shore Path, a 20-plus-mile public access footpath that runs between the lake and the front lawns of those over-the-top mansions. Wherever you stay, you're never far from some of Wisconsin's best golf courses. The Grand Geneva Resort has two 18-hole courses, including the Brute Course known for its overabundance of bunkers and enormous greens, and the Highland Course, which has been perfected over the years by Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Bob Cupp and Bob Lohmann. The Geneva National Golf Club at Geneva Ridge Resort offers a trifecta of designer courses, with one each from Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. The Como Crossings course at Hawks View Golf Club is frequently mentioned as "must-play" Wisconsin course and Abbey Springs Golf Course tosses in gorgeous views of the lake. If you're looking for a little adventure after golf, try the water park at Timber Ridge Lodge or Lake Geneva Canopy Tours for a dose of zip lines, sky bridges and crows nests. The Dancing Horses Theater and Animal Gardens features farm animals, wildlife and exotic creatures. To make your golf trip complete, enjoy a meal at least a couple of these places: Popeyes on Lake Geneva for seafood and steaks (no, its not the chicken chain), Egg Harbor Cafe for breakfast, or Medusas Grill & Bistro for creative cuisine. Also plan to spend some time wandering through some of the 100 shops in Lake Geneva, especially if you like antiques, art or one-of-a-kind apparel. If you can, spend some time on the lake itself, either on a tour cruise, fishing, sailing or windsurfing. As they say, Lake Geneva "has always been the place," especially for a luxurious golf trip.
Top Rated Golf Courses in Lake Geneva AreaCourses with the highest golfer ratings (minimum 10 reviews to qualify)
Articles about this destination from our expert editorial staff
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The Lake Geneva, Wisconsin area is known as Chicago's playground, although it's actually closer to Milwaukee. About an hour and a half north of the Windy City, Lake Geneva was founded by Chicago's wealthy families around 100 years ago. Narrowing down the best golf isn't easy, but here are five golf courses that won't do you wrong.
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A picturesque setting unfolds at Geneva National Golf Club in Lake Geneva. With courses designed by Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, Geneva National is the second-largest golf facility in the state. The Player Course is the most fun to play. The Trevino plays tough because of its narrower fairways and hard-to-read greens. While the Palmer takes advantage of its Lake Como setting.
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Lake Geneva -- a small lakeside town in southern Wisconsin -- has always been "Chicago's playground." Chicagoans can hop in the car and within two hours be fishing or boating on one of the region's three major lakes or teeing it up on a scenic resort golf course kissing their shores. With top-notch golf -- Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and Geneva National, to name two -- resorts and restaurants, it's easy to see why Lake Geneva is a popular destination.
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There are three nine-hole courses at Evergreen Golf Club, which has been a local favorite since opening the North-South nines in 1973. While Evergreen isn't a trophy course, it probably has a more "bang for your buck" quotient and you have a better chance to shoot a number. To some golfers, those options are more significant, Jason Scott Deegan writes.
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With his golf course design business based 30 miles away in Libertyville, Ill., highly acclaimed Rick Jacobson was an obvious and convenient choice to build Bowes Creek Country Club in Elgin. Based on reviews on GolfNow.com, locals approve of the work of their native son, giving Bowes Creek an average rating of 4.5 on a scale of 5. The course has many of the player-friendly touches typical of Jacobson courses: wide fairways, big greens and multiple, scattered tee boxes, giving holes an array of different looks.
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