The Jewel Golf Club is a visually striking Hale Irwin-designed golf course in Lake City, Minn., 45 minutes northeast of Rochester.
The eventual plan is to take The Jewel private in two to five years. A sign by the front door of the clubhouse notes that various levels of preview memberships can be acquired for $2,000 to $5,000.
Whether you're considering becoming a member or not, though, golf aficionados visiting or living in the Rochester area would be well-advised to make the trip out to The Jewel and pay the $70 green fee (with cart, high season) before it goes private. There is simply no other public course in southern Minnesota with quite the same combination of difficulty and scenic beauty.
The Jewel boasts lush bentgrass from tee to green. My "expert" first-timer advice is, unless you are both a long hitter and carry less than a 5-handicap, play the white or blue/white tees. There is a very good reason why there are seven sets of tee boxes here.
The scorecard doesn't look all that daunting yardage-wise: For the "men's" tees, the tips measure 7,050 yards, the blues 6,669 yards, the blue/whites 6,401 and the whites 6,014. So, low two-digit handicappers who hit the ball pretty far might be tempted to give the blues a shot.
Don't. At least not on your first visit.