Lake Geneva has always been known as "Chicago's playground," but it can be yours, too.
This lake-and-golf destination is easily accessible from the Milwaukee airport (45 minutes) or Chicago O'Hare (90 minutes). The roster of solid to strong golf courses goes at least eight deep. With a couple of lower-cost local favorites thrown in, Lake Geneva can cater to golfers of all abilities and bank accounts.
Here are its top 10 courses to consider:
The 7,085-yard Brute Course, the region's best play, certainly lives up to its name, bullying players with 68 curvaceous bunkers, uneven lies and massive greens that average 8,000 square feet in size.
The 6,659-yard Highlands Course at Grand Geneva Resort can feel a bit disjointed, probably from all the hands that have worked on it. Bob Cupp transformed the original Jack Nicklaus/Pete Dye routing into a Scottish links-themed course in 1996. Bob Lohmann altered several holes in 2006.
There are no weak moments on the 7,008-yard course Gary Player Course at Geneva National Golf Club, although the 18th hole should be played from the tips for maximum drama. Player finished the full routing in 2000, five years after its first nine opened. Great scenery of Lake Como, variety and the fun factor give it the edge over its two sister courses. The combination of three par 3s and three par 5s on the back nine provides a chance to go low.
The 7,171-yard Arnold Palmer Course at Geneva National Golf Club inishes stronger than its two sister courses. The 218-yard 16th hole plays directly toward Lake Como, meaning breezes off of water add even more club. Palmer considers the par-5 17th hole winding along shore one of the best holes he's ever designed.
Geneva National Golf Club's 7,120-yard Lee Trevino Course is the toughest challenge at the 54-hole club, yet lacks the vistas of the other two. If you can repeat Lee Trevino's trademark fade on the nine holes that dogleg right, you'll fare just fine.
Abbey Springs Golf Course in Fontana follows some great terrain. Formerly private, the 6,644-yard course touts itself as "Wisconsin's Most Beautiful Golf Course." The 17th tee box stares off into the horizon over Lake Geneva, delivering upon that hype.
Hawk's View Golf Club
Hawk's View Golf Club's 2,708-yard Barn Hollow, an executive par-3 course, complements the 7,074-yard Como Crossings Course in Lake Geneva. Como Crossings climbs a former ski hill named Mt. Fuji for two great downhill par 3s at No. 3 and No. 17.
The 6,201-yard Dick Nugent golf course at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan made a major comeback over the past three years under the resort's new owners. The downhill par-3 second and the par-5 third holes along Lake Delavan provide its highlights. Wild greens tend to induce three-putts from players.
Evergreen Golf Club
Consider 27-hole Evergreen Golf Club in Elkhorn a bang-for-your-buck experience. Be sure to request the excellent North nine. The East nine, opened on 52 acres in 1994, plays tighter and a little trickier, especially the dogleg 444-yard par-5 third hole. The pond guarding the green at the par-4 ninth hole was enlarged in 2011 to add more character. Over on the South nine, water guards the par-5 third and the par-4 ninth holes.
Delbrook Golf Course
The city of Delavan developed the municipal Delbrook Golf Course way back in 1928. It expanded to 27 holes much later during a major revision. The two longest nines, the Middle and South, add up to 6,642 yards with a slope of 127.