Roger Packard’s work at Eagle Ridge stretched for 20 years, ultimately resulting in four courses for the resort. Most consider The General to be the best of the bunch, which means he truly saved the best for last.
The course, which he co-designed with U.S. Open champion Andy North, uses its dramatic elevation changes to leave an impression. The signature hole is No. 6, a par four that stretches 440 yards...but will play considerably less, considering the 180 feet of drop from tee-to-green. There is plenty of fairway to catch your drive, but you may still want to favor the right, so that a prominent oak doesn’t block your approach shot.
Packard was a born Chicagoan (his father was Larry Packard, another prominent architect) and North was born in Wisconsin, yet both could reasonably consider Eagle Ridge a “hometown” destination; the course sits in the far northwest corner of Illinois, making it as easily accessible to Wisconsinites and Iowans.
The facility is literally just across from the Mississippi River and includes several different courses on property. The focus is geared towards those looking for a full-scale resort with various golf options.
The General is blessed with rolling terrain but with few exceptions the totality of the architecture, to be kind, is simply vanilla. The bunkers feature 1960s flair -- often big on show but small on the strategic import side.
The green sites are also rather pedestrian -- with little real character that puts an emphasis on sizing up approach shots before firing away.
What should happen with the General -- and even the other courses on the property -- is getting new marching orders. Selecting an architect to come in and really update the holes thereby transform the course into something far more than what's there now.
The goal is to neither make the course excessively longer nor more difficult per se, but showcasing holes engaging the golfer mentally and physically. Eagle Ridge clearly has more golf -- but not necessarily "better" golf. That's the game plan the facility needs to focus upon. Provide a meaningful differentiation on the golf side.
When you have one architect doing ALL the courses then net result can be similar styles for ALL the courses. One of the very smart ideas to come forward with multiple facilities is Mike Keiser's brainchild with Bandon Dunes. The Oregon facility engaged different architects and therefore maximizes the creativity and differences such various architects bring forward.
The General has the land site to be something far more than what's there now. Whether that ever happens is clearly an issue only the facility can resolve. Clearly, the starting point comes with a self-awareness of the matter and the willingness - and bucks -- to do so.
M. James Ward
Entertaining course in a historic Civil War era town. Wonderful combination of length and The General provides a dramatic setting, with incredible elevation changes and spectacular vistas. Tee boxes located on the sides of hills, rolling fairways defined by natural areas and high grasses, and beautiful water hazards are some of the features that sets this course apart. It is also the most finely conditioned course at the resort.