Located on the edge of an 800-acre residential project in Lake City, the 18-hole layout at The Jewel Golf Club is a Hale Irwin design from 2005, with fairways routed around a mildly undulating property close to the Mississippi River.
The following is an extract from haleirwin.com:
When first discussing the goals and objectives of this development, we were very aware that this golf course would need to be designed for a variety of players and with quite a bit of imagination as the budget was an issue. The course would need to accommodate resort play, member play and daily fee rounds.
The end result was an on budget, award winning golf course nestled along the river valley… Routed through a variety of terrain, the course was designed with five sets of tee boxes in order to accommodate golfers of any ability with the ultimate goal of one day hosting a major regional amateur event.
The Jewel is the closest encounter a Minnesotan can get to a mountain golf experience in their state. I have driven to Lake City a few times now to take advantage of the Hale Irwin design, and each time I come away more impressed with this beautiful golf course. The front nine, with its undulating, wide fairways, is not particularly awe inspiring. I'd like to think a course with a 4.5 ball rating would open up with two better holes than the ones offered at The Jewel. Amusingly, my favorite hole on that side comes right after at the par four third: a semi-blind, semi-dogleg left tee shot leading to a downhill approach to a putting surface surrounded by treacherous bunkers. The latter nine, in which the golfer takes a stroll through the relatively hilly bluffs of southeastern Minnesota, vaults the course from above average daily facility to a top 10 public offering in the state. Hole 10, at 421 yards, is a downhill, classic "bite off as much as you can chew" par four. I've seen shots that end up 50 yards short of the green, and I've seen shots that end up 200 yards short of the green. It is all about personal choice here, and how daring you decide to be. The same can be said on the next hole, a par three, especially if the pin is in the back right portion of the green. Holes 12 through 15 at The Jewel aesthetically look like a private course in the Appalachian Mountains. There are a lot of fun, wonderfully conditioned golf holes here, capped off by a brute of a par four at the 18th--which measures 477 yards from the tips--that offers the reward of a stellar panoramic view as you approach the green. In a state full of typically flat courses, The Jewel is one to savor.
Had the pleasure of visiting on an absolutely beautiful fall day with no wind. With the layout being in and out of woods the need to be aware of the wind would make this course much more demanding. The key to this course is in making sure that you are hitting fairways.
Greens were in superb condition and the fairways were all top notch. Par three holes are all fairly difficult due to the length. Make sure to play the proper tees as forced carry's abound and most holes have scrub area at the end of tee boxes to the bane of low ball hitters.
The Jewel is just that: a jewel. While the first few holes lack excitement, from 3-18 it is nearly a nonstop adrenaline ride to the finish. Massive trees, elevation changes, blind shots, draws, fades, eagles; you name it this course has it. The par 4 6th is arguably one of the best drivable 4's I have played. The back 9 is a nonstop freight train of fun with scoring or disaster around every corner. The main upside of the Jewel is the variety, quality, and exciting nature of the course design. You can be creative and play approaches in off slopes and hit nearly anything you want off the tee. The downside of the course is its accessibility for most people. Located 1.5 hours from Minneapolis, it is a hard sell if you are looking for golf while in Minnesota's biggest city.
Also ranked far too low in my opinion. Being located 1.5hrs outside of Minneapolis, location takes this course out of a lot of the lists for top courses in the state. Plop this course down anywhere within 30mins of the metro and it rockets up lists! Played it yesterday when the leaves were changing colors and it was spectacular!