Be Minnesota Monarchy At The Jewel
By Libby Mehaffey
Want to be treated like royalty, fed grapes and fanned by scantIly-clad good-looking people – keep dreaming. However, you can have a royal golf experience at The Jewel, a premier golf course that is currently open to the public in Lake City, Minnesota. While operating under a new regime (ownership changed hands at the end of 2006), The Jewel continues to treat all of its guests like members of the monarchy both on and off the greens.
A Bit of Background on the Legendary Designer
When selecting an architect for the golf course, built in 2005, the original owners interviewed several top candidates for the position, but eventually selected legendary player and well-known golf course architect, Hale Irwin for several reasons.
“The owners appreciated how personable Hale was and liked the ideas he had presented for a minimalist approach to creating the course using the natural landscape without making huge changes and a lot of man-made work,” remarked Dave Troyer, General Manager and Head Golf Professional at The Jewel. Their selection paid off. Hale and his son, Steve, were hands-on through the whole process.
“It surprised me how much time Hale and Steve spent on site. We were out there one entire day shaping the 18th green,” said Troyer. “He told the bulldozer guy to do this and that, we’d go back an hour later, he’d tell the guy to do something else, we’d come back again – he must have modified the green four or five times until the green was exactly how he wanted it shaped”.
The Jewel provides a lot of variety in types of golf from links style play, to traditional tree-lined fairways, to mountain-like layouts along the Mississippi River bluffs. Because of Hale’s personal commitment to designing a signature golf course, every hole is truly unique.
The layout also provides players with lots of options. The course features shaved-off approach areas allowing for flop shots, bump and runs and other course management tactics. “You’re rewarded for good shots and penalized for bad shots,” said Troyer. “There is a good risk reward balance throughout the entire course”.
Another important feature to Irwin’s design was his insistence to build the golf course before putting up any housing, which is often not the case in these types of developments. The golf course and routing was top priority.
“The Jewel is not a house-lined golf course, in fact, a large number of holes won’t ever have housing which helps keep the natural feel to the golf course,” said Troyer. “We’re a golf course with a housing community – not a housing community with golf”.
Each hole on the course provides for stunning natural landscapes. Golfers will find that they get that chill-like feeling when you’re the first group off the box on a cool, dewy morning several times throughout its 18 holes.
Number 14 is known as The Jewel’s signature hole. Tucked at the base of the river bluff with a slight dogleg left, 14 is long, challenging and drop-dead gorgeous. A huge oak tree just behind the green serves as the hole’s anchor bringing the picturesque layout into focus. And despite the nature gawkers who take a little extra time to notice the true beauty of the course you can play a round at The Jewel in four hours no problem.
Elevating An Already Superior Experience
The service at The Jewel is impeccable – as royalty, who would expect anything less, right? From the moment you drive in you’re treated like you’re wearing a crown rather than a cap.
“People are coming to have a great time and have fun – they’re getting away from the every day and we work to accentuate that fun by making their experience worry and hassle free,” said Troyer. “We operate on a resort-service philosophy that you’d find at upscale golf destinations in Arizona, Florida, and South Carolina”.
The menu in the clubhouse is also nothing less than exceptional. The new ownership has recently upgraded the menu and wine list offering the freshest, highest quality items from bar snacks to nightly specials.
Don’t Wait! It’s A Progressively Private Facility
Today, “lay-people” can play this fantastic course, but don’t let the opportunity pass you by – The Jewel is slated to be fully-private by 2011. “We’re a progressively private golf facility,” said Troyer. “We’ve already got a solid base of members who are active and involved at the course. In addition to a fun social calendar, we’ve got really great Men’s and Women’s Leagues led by two superstars – Jim Miezwa and Peggy Gazzola”.
Like any other private facility, membership at the course ranges depending on the type of membership, but there are some really affordable options available.
“Right now is a great time to join – it’s an amazing deal,” said Troyer. “We’re a growing club and we’re looking to attract and build new membership – with our 5-year preview memberships we’re waiving initiation fees completely. It really is a great buy”.
It’s really not that far. It is really that great.
Don’t sit in traffic with all of the riff-raff heading up north, the drive to Lake City is a pretty and fast ride. The drive from Twin Cities is about 90 minutes. And, Lake City in itself is a beautiful. Located on Lake Pepin, this little town is known as the birthplace of waterskiing. Visit the area on a hot summer day and you just might want to hit the waves rather than the greens.