The Jewel – Living Up To It’s Name
By Will Brogan
They say that the diamond is the hardest material on earth. Well, The Jewel in Lake City may be one of the hardest tests of golf in the state of Minnesota. Opened in 2005, The Hale Irwin design that stretches up to 7,050 yards is in absolutely pristine condition, truly living up to its name, which is why it has won numerous awards in its extremely brief history. Head Golf Professional Kent Blaschko, Golf Manager Cody Buck, and Superintendent Doug Mahal have done an incredible job of making The Jewel live up to its name.
Settled at the base of the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River Valley at Lake Pepin, the golf course winds through the landscape of natural beauty, and stands ready to humble even the most skilled golfers. If you are a low handicapper looking to see just how good you really are, The Jewel will test your nerves, but reward good execution. Likewise, if you are a golfer who will trade a triple digit scorecard for stunning aesthetic beauty, you will also thoroughly enjoy The Jewel.
The Golf Course
Tight fairways, fast greens and a fanatical attention to detail are trademarks at The Jewel. However, those aren’t the only distinctive features of the course. The variety of natural beauty surrounding each hole at The Jewel is so diverse that it feels like a walk through a geographical museum of golf. There are elements surrounding holes that can make the golfer feel like they are in Scotland, California, a Midwestern Parkland course, or even Augusta National at any given time. This makes for not only a great experience, but serves as a pinch in the arm to any golfer who appreciates the natural geographical dynamics that make all of the aforementioned possible.
The Jewel shows its teeth right away by opening the round with the longest hole on the course, a 584-yard par 5. The narrow fairway is laid out among long, golden-hued native grasses that give it a Californian feel, setting the tone for a beautiful but challenging round.
The second hole keeps the California theme before the third hole transitions the course into a tree-lined, Midwestern Parkland setup. Once the round reaches the eighth hole (par 5, 493 yards), the “Golden State” look returns, and a birdie opportunity presents itself. Golfers of all abilities will have the chance to put it close on this hole, but a lay-up with precision execution is a better way to attack this green, as five bunkers surround it.
As the back nine begins, water makes its first significant appearance on the course, surrounding the sharp dogleg left of the par 4, 10th and forcing a long carry at the 209-yard par 3, 11th. The 461-yard, par 4 12th hole presents the truest test of driving accuracy for the longest hitters. From the back tees, a 251 yard carry – just to reach the fairway – is required to start the hole. However, native plant life on the right and a menacing slope on the left, requiring one of the longest, straightest tee shots you’ll ever hit, tightly guard the landing area!
The course then tips it’s cap – in some respects – to Augusta National, as the 13th and 14th holes feature significant elevation changes and greens that will funnel the ball, quickly, in almost any direction. The 13th fairway has several large, rolling mounds that place a premium on driving accuracy, while the 14th keeps the fairway tight but offers a spine cutting the large green in half.
The final four holes are a “final exam” of each of the different styles the course portrayed previously. The 15th and 16th holes utilize water as a visually intimidating aspect, while holes 17 and 18 use trees to invoke similar feelings. The 477-yard, par 4 finishing hole feels like a par 5 and is a worthy end to a demanding test of golf.
First Class Amenities
The Jewel is a public golf course, for now. All the makings are there for it to permanently transition into a private club. A variety of membership options are available, though some have a limited number remaining. The 19th hole, “Dining at The Jewel” is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner year round.
The two-story clubhouse features 100 seats in the main dining area, a banquet room, as well as a covered outdoor terrace. On the lower level there is an additional grill and fire pit, and an additional dining area.
Get Out And Play The Jewel
Located just an hour from the Twin Cities, The Jewel is a must play for any golfer. However, plans to make the course private mean that time is limited, so get out and experience The Jewel before it is too late!