The Back Nine - get away to stay and play
We all need to get away. Especially to play some great golf. This week's Front Nine brought you Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa in Galena, Ill. and Wildnerness Resort & Water Park in Wisconin Dells, Wisc. Eagle Ridge is a must play for Illinois golfers who are used to parkland or links style golf - which is what you should be used to, to be honest. Galena offers some drastically different topography than most of the state, and the four great courses at Eagle Ridge take full advantage. Says Eagle Ridge Director of Golf Erin Strieck: "Especially on The General for sure, but the North and the South aren't flat either. Our signature hole on the North is a par 3, about 165 (yards) which shoots out over Lake Galena. It's not as severe as No. 14 (on The General) but it's a good 75-foot drop tee to green. On The General No. 14 is pretty amazing, and then you have to play back up on 17. You can get some really good elevation on (all three courses). It's also a place where you can bring your spouse and children, as the East Course is perfect for short hitters and juniors. The other three 18-hole layouts are playable as well, but they're definitely a bit more challenging. "We do have the ability to accommodate for all skill levels of golf," Strieck said. Also, it's the only place in the state of Illinois where golfers can get away and play multiple courses at a competitive rate for either a twosome, a family, or a group event. Strieck continued: "Every avid golfer would love to up to (Kohler, Wisc.) and play Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, but sometimes that doesn't fall into what the budget is. We're really lucky to have all the different amenities because not everybody golfs. We have horseback riding, boating, and things like that. "And I don't know how many other states have 63-hole golf resorts, except maybe Wisconsin. In the state of Illinois, no. In the state of Iowa, no." Which brings us to the Wildnerness Resort in the Dells. No, it's not a 63-hole facility, but the 27 it does have are pretty amazing. First, if you played the course years ago like I did, the original 18-hole layout has been cut to 9 called The Woods. It's meant for all players, but it's main draw are families. The famed island green is still there, although some of the other holes have been changed a little. Director of golf Chris Goodwick says rounds can be played quickly and the tips will give adults a challenge. The jewel of the course is the new Wild Rock 18-hole layout, which opened last summer to rave reviews from golf publications around the country. speaking of topography... says Goodwick: "The Dells has been blessed - the river, the canyons, the rock walls, sandstone cliffs." The course was built for resort golfers, and is generous with its wide fairways and up to 6 sets of tee boxes on a hole, but the green complexes and bunkering have been strategically placed to challenge the above average player. "All of our shots are off elevated tees and you can see right where you need to go," Goodwick said. "We have wide fairways, wider than almost anywhere. It really caters to resort golfers, but it's a dramatic look. It's more eye-appealing than most golf courses." On the resort side, the Wildnerness offers a handful of water parks for the family to enjoy. These are definitey two places for you to consider when planning either a family stay-and-play golf vacation, or a group outing with buddies.
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