Weather: 70 and windy
Played With: Brennen and Mitch
Written By: Matt Madden
Rating: See bottom of Review
The Jewel Golf Club is a gorgeous course located on the outskirts of Lake City, MN. Designed by Hale Irwin, this is Minnesota’s number three ranked public course in the state. I have played this course a couple times now and can say it is my absolute favorite. During the week days, there is rarely a time where you would ever have to wait for anyone in front of you. The course is a mixture of links style and traditional, which gives you a great variety of holes. Every hole looks different, with beautiful scenery in the background as the course is built in the middle of the bluffs. The course isn’t overly expensive compared to the other upscale public courses in the area. There isn’t many water hazards on the course, but spray a drive left or right and you could be in trouble. There are not many opportunities to play from an adjacent fairway, which really puts emphasis on your first shot. Also, with most of the holes with high rough and fescue bordering the fairway, being in the fairway is essential if you plan on keeping your ball on the quick greens.
The Jewel has an award winning Clubhouse with a beautiful and modern feel to it. The course is in a very secluded area, with little traffic passing by. The Pro shop isn’t very large, but has anything you would need from clubs, apparel, balls to miscellaneous items that any golfer would appreciate. You hardly need to get out of your car before the bag attendants are at your side, catering to your every need. Everyone is extremely friendly and most know the course very well and will offer some tips if requested. There is a map of the greens on each cart, with the hole locations for the day when you cannot tell where the pin is placed. The driving range is free to anyone who is playing that day with unlimited balls for you to hit off of real grass. The food here is fantastic and very reasonably priced with televisions inside the bar to watch the golf tournaments when you come in on the turn. The Jewel is 2 minutes from beautiful Lake City, which sits right on Lake Pepin, part of the Mississippi River.
Hole 1 is a par 5, number 1 handicap hole on the course. The drive here is essential as there are many fairway bunkers along the right and left side. There is also another fairway bunker about 110 yards from the green, making your second shot a tough decision. These bunkers are very deceptive with relatively large lips that are sure to make you pay for entering one. Hole 2 is a par 4 that is a slight dogleg left that is also guarded by fairway bunkers on the left and right side of the fairway. The “greenside” bunker in front of the green is actually a good 50 yards short, making this a very painful place to be. There is a large ridge that runs right down the middle of this green, so second shots must be planned accordingly. Hole 3 is a par 4 that requires a fairway metal or long iron off the tee. The fairway slopes severely down and to the left to a green that is protected by four bunkers. Finding the correct club is the tricky part on your second shot, as you are facing a 75 foot decline to the green. Hole 4 is a difficult par four that penalizes you for an errant drive left or right. Although the fairway is quite large, a long second shot into a left to right, front to back, and multi-level sloping green is the key. Par is a great score on this hole. Number 5 is a short par three with a large, deep green. There is another ridge that runs down the middle of the green, so placing your ball on the correct level is crucial to avoiding the dreaded three putt. Number 6 is a great example of a risk/reward hole. The short par 4 has woods both to the left and right with some fairway bunkers on the right. The green is again a front to back sloping green with a large valley cutting through the middle. Hole 7 is another short par 3 that is surrounded by bunkers and woods on the left. Go left on this hole and your ball will likely hit the slope and shoot into the woods. Hole 8 is a deceiving par 5 that looks very reachable in 2. However, the severely elevated green with massive slopes in all direction requires a very precise shot with stopping power to hold your ball. A well placed drive between the many fairway bunkers is essential with fescue on both the left and right sides. Hole 9 is a long par 4 that is many times played into a strong wind. Again, with fairway bunkers on both the left and right side, the green is also protected by water on the left and more greenside bunkers on the back side. The green is also extremely tricky with multiple level changes that scream 3 putt.
The back nine opens with a beautiful but treacherous par four 10th that is a severe dogleg left that you can either gamble by hitting over the water into the narrow fairway, or bail out right, leaving yourself with a long second shot. Water is also on the right side of the hole if you hit it through the fairway. Hole 11 is the hardest par three that requires all carry over the water to a green protected by three more bunkers. You can bail left into a fairway area, however, judging your wedge shot into a 108 foot green with multiple levels does not look appealing. Hole 12 requires a very precise drive through a narrow gap of trees that you need to carry 230 yards just to reach the fairway. An uphill, long second shot into a deep green will again test your putting skills to a front to back sloped green. Hole 13 is a slight dogleg right with trouble on both sides. Make sure to aim to the left side of the fairway, as everything slopes down to the right into thick rough. A short, uphill shot to an elevated, deep green is needed for this hole, with yet again, another ridge down the middle of the green. Hole 14 is a beautiful hole with great views of the towering bluffs from the elevated tee box. A mid iron second shot into the largest green on the course is required for another front to back sloping green. Another long par 3 is the 15th hole that requires carry over multiple bunkers. The green is the toughest part, sloping from left to right with a large ridge in the middle. Hole 16 is a large par 5 that requires some decision making off the tee. Similar to hole 10, number 16 requires you to hit over water into a dogleg left fairway, with many trees on the right side. The green is protected by two bunkers with a large “knob” in the middle to make even 2 putts a real challenge. Number 17 is a short par 4 that has woods on both the left and right side, with two additional trees on the left that promotes a right to left shot off the tee. The deepest green on the course is protected by towering pine trees and 3 more bunkers. A tee shot down the left side of the fairway on number 18 is required to avoid fairway bunkers on the right, and also a large, overhanging tree that protects the right side of the green. Once again, the 18th green has a large valley running through the heart of it.
Like I stated above, this is one of my favorite courses because of the difficulty and variety of holes. It is rarely busy during the week days and isn’t too terribly expensive for such an upscale, public course. The gorgeous scenery surrounding it will make you wanting to come back over and over again. The website is www.jewelgolfclub.com , where Hale Irwin himself will give you a walk through hole by hole. I highly recommend this course.