The name of the premier course at the Grand Geneva Resort is perhaps the best summary of the era in which it was constructed: The Brute. Clubs and resorts were in an arm-wrestling match to create the stiffest tests for golfers at the tail-end of the ‘60s, and Robert Bruce Harris certainly provided a muscular entry here.
Most visitors to the region are aiming to visit Lake Geneva, but at The Brute their ball can find almost every water hazard but. And when there is no drink in the vicinity, Harris is happy to supply large, deep sand traps for collecting misplaced shots. The architect continues to ramp up the extremity throughout the round, so that those who feel assured through the first half will be sweating out the second, and those frustrated through the opening holes may need an extra drink at the turn.
The closing holes exemplify the approach: No. 16 is a par three where anything off the green will funnel down into deep sand, No. 17 features a daunting Cape-style tee shot over the property’s central lake, and No. 18 requires a tight drive through trees and bunkers.
The course was extremely pure, with gorgeous bunkers. The course was very difficult as there were a ton of elevation changes but great picture spots.
The Brute lives up to its name starting on the first hole. From an elevated tee, a long par four with a carry- over a creek. Hardly welcoming as the number 7 handicap hole. The first par five is an S configuration to an elevated green. Possible to get home in two, but not probable. Also, just before ascending uphill the fairway transitions to rough, about 100 yards out. The 3rd hole is a good par 4. From an elevated tee to an elevated green. At the bottom of the hill there are two water hazards and the fairway narrows to about 15 yards. While further than it appears, you probably do not want to hit your drive more than 250 yards. Consider an extra club on the uphill approach to a green guarded by bunkers front right and left. The first par 3 is mid-length with a carry over water to a humungous green. The 5th is a dogleg right with multiple bunkers on the inside elbow.
The sixth is a mid-length, but still likely a three-shot par five. The ideal drive is drawn over the corner sand trap, but will leave well over 200 yards in to a green that is elevated probably 30-40 feet with no fairway to lay up to. The 6th is another potentially reachable par 5. Ideal drive will be inside the right fairway bunker. If you do not crest the ridge, there is a water hazard at the bottom. The second shot is really about the lie. If you are flat, certainly green light. If not plan accordingly. I know I am not adept at downhill lies, but I convinced myself that this time it would be different. Splash. Similar to the 2nd, an uphill green with no fairway on the ascent. The 7th is a dogleg left with a bunker on the inside elbow. Good birdie oppty. The 8th is a short par 3 with a green that slopes hard back to front and bunkers in front. Another good birdie oppty. The front closes with a super slight dogleg right. Bunkers on the inside elbow and a water hazard through the fairway. A ball in the fairway is a job well done. Greenside bunker front right and water hazard left.
The back starts off with a really demanding par 4. Slight bender right with a creek right and a very tight landing area. I was surprised that this hole is number 8 handicap. Tough driving hole. The par 5 11th parallels the 2nd and has the same basic design. Fly the right bunker off the tee and you should have an excellent chance at getting home in two. The 12th is a short dogleg right with bunkers on the inside elbow. Big hitters may be able to get home off the tee. The 13th is a short par 3 and is rated as the easiest hole on the course. The 14th is a dogleg right with bunkers on the inside elbow and greenside front left and right. The par 5 15th is over 600 yards. There is a large fairway bunker left off the tee. The river bisects the fairway, par is a good score on this hole. The last par 3 plays at least a club shorter, but you must carry a large front bunker. You must contend with two water hazards on 17, lake right and creek about 50 yards in front of the green. Off the tee favor the left side. The 18th is an excellent finishing hole. Water and fairway bunkers right it is also the longest par 4.
The Brute is a fun golf course. On a positive note, the tip yardage is over 7000 yards, but plays less.
I really enjoyed this course. The course has elevation changes on almost every hole and the design had a good mix of shorter and longer holes that tested every shot in the bag.
It had rained a lot the night before and the morning of when I played. I drove passed a couple of courses that seemed pretty flooded. I was pleasantly surprised when I got out on the course, and there was no flooding and it was in great shape. The greens were actually fairly quick considering how wet they were. Everything else about the condition was awesome besides casual water in a couple of bunkers, which is expected after the extended rainfall. There were also a few patchy areas of rough that I noticed, nothing too major.
The scorecard says 7,000 yards from the tips, but it felt like a lot less than that due to the large number of holes that played downhill. I did not feel like it was as particularly challenging as I was expecting, but there were certainly some tough holes.
Overall this is a very good course, I enjoyed the course design and it was in great shape. It reminded me of TPC Deere Run for those who have played there, but more elevation changes and not quite as tough.