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June 2020

Vision Takes Hold at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

By Sally J. Sportsman

There’s something happening here. Extensive renovation, expansion and upgrading at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, in Galena, Illinois, have led to a sense of excitement for this year and far into the future. All four of the property’s golf courses, including the well-known The General, are being restored to their original playability, and a total renovation of The General clubhouse, reopened in April, has resulted in a reinvigorated guest experience.

“We have continued moving the resort forward with an aggressive renovation program,” says Thomas Ruhs, general manager of Eagle Ridge. “The vision is to make this the finest golf and spa facility in the Midwest area.”

The General clubhouse was closed for six months during renovation. The golf shop was doubled in size – from 900 to 1,800 square feet – and moved from the main to the lower level, now with access from the parking lot. There is a more upscale feel, an expanded merchandise selection and new vendors. The pro shop has garage doors opening to a newly-built deck overlooking the 18th green and a bar area, Lounge 289. 

“The entire golf team is excited,” says Ryan Brown, PGA, director of golf at the resort. “We now have a more functional golf shop, with a horseshoe-shaped counter and better traffic flow.

“It’s reasonable to expect that we’ll see a 30 to 40 percent increase in The General clubhouse business in 2020, and a roughly 15 to 20 percent increase in rounds played projected for this year.”

The golf course renovations are not complete; they will go on for the next several years, according to Ruhs. Play continues on the courses during the work.

New initiatives are being implemented, too. In addition to the already-existing program allowing resort guests age 17 and under to play golf free of charge, there is the new Family Day on Sundays after 2 p.m., when children and a spouse play free with one paying adult. And the Players Package now includes an additional round on the 9-hole East Course.

“We do a lot of promos to incorporate Sunday-through-Thursday stays,” Brown says. “We’ve also expanded our professional team with two more instructors for lessons, custom club fitting and demo days.”

The indoor golf studio, with a Doppler radar launch monitor, has been moved from the hotel to the South Course pro shop, with food service and a full bar. A web-based tournament package has been implemented throughout the resort to escalate the tournament experience. Ongoing renovation to the hotel is another factor that keeps Eagle Ridge front-of-mind for those seeking an enriching resort experience. The next phase of the renovation plan entails a new luxury spa, expected to open in summer 2021.

“The investments throughout the resort are very wise and will pay long-term benefits for all,” Ruhs says.

Sally J. Sportsman is an Orlando, Florida-based freelance golf writer.

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