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#8 - Top 10 Public Courses in Minnesota

Top 10 Public Courses in Minnesota

By Mason Savage, A Good Walk Spoiled contributor

For those of you who missed it, 3 weeks ago, we at 'A Good Walk Spoiled' released "The Completely Unbiased 100% Scientific Golf Course Ranking System." The point of the system is to create a ranking system that was geared to the Everyday Golf. If you missed that post, please check it out in the link below so that you can understand how these rankings work and what each category represents in the system.

Before we dig into the Review/Ranking, these are the Top 10 Public Courses in Minnesota so a couple of notes. 1. These are Public Courses, there are no Private Courses on this list so please do not ask why courses like Interlachen are not on this list. 2. These are courses that we at A Good Walk Spoiled have played. If there is a good public course that is not on this list, that means we do not think it is in the top 10 or we have not played it. 3. Most important note, this is the Top 10 so all of these courses are GREAT and we would recommend any of them to out of town travelers. That said, we are critical when it comes to analyzing Golf Courses so any negative comments or points of critique in these Blog Posts come from a place of Love and wanting the courses to better themselves.

One other note about out post last week on our Number 9 Course, Stoneridge. Last week after the post went live we received some inside information from a reader that will require us to reassess the score given to Stoneridge. We are not amending it now, but in future posts, expect Stoneridge to make another appearance as we revise the score and ultimately the position of these courses. But for now, let's dive into the next course on this list.

#8 - The Jewel - Lake City, MN

The Jewel is the first course on this list that is out of the Twin Cities Metro area (shoutout to Southeastern Minnesota). Located in Lake City, this course is still reachable for Metro residents but is also playable for people that live in the Rochester Area which means there is a large pool of people who are able to easily access this course. While the name of the course might be one of the worst on this list, do not let that distract you. This very underrated course hosts a fantastic layout and also displays some awesome natural beauty. Many people sleep on the natural beauty that the Mighty Mississippi has carved through the Southeast portion of the state and The Jewel does a great job of giving every person who walks the property a taste of this beauty.

The river bluffs at The Jewel are beautiful, even in early spring without the leaves on the trees

Culture - 6

The culture of The Jewel appears to be stuck in this middle ground of a small town course and a super nice, “mini-destination” level course. With a relatively empty course the couple of times when AGWS attended The Jewel means we may not have the best read on the culture but that is what we thought when we were there. This score is subject to change as we continue to play The Jewel more.

Place - 9

The sense of place is incredible at The Jewel. As was mentioned previously, this course does a great job of displaying the beauty that is Southeast Minnesota. The bluffs carved out by the Minnesota River make this course distinct and blend in with the natural topography of the surrounding area. While there are some homes built on some of the holes (something that can detract from the sense of Place), the large river bluffs minimize this effect. Similar to last weeks course (Stoneridge) this is a course that we at AGWS would love to get the drone out to. One can only imagine its natural beauty in the fall with the warm autumn colors littering the bluff sides.

This course feels like it embodies its sense of place as well as any course on this list.

The 11th Hole at the Jewel - It is impossible to stand on any hole on the back 9 and not be captivated by the large bluffs that litter the property

Quality - 7

The quality and the maintenance of the Jewel is very good. While it may not be up to snuff with the previous courses that have been on this list, the conditions are way above average for public courses in the state. What makes this feat even more impressive is that The Jewel is a part of Audubon International, an organization that prioritizes maintaining healthy and functioning ecosystems. Essentially, The Jewel is extremely eco-friendly which makes the conditioning even more impressive as they operate with certain restrictions that relate to watering and fertilizers. Kudos to the maintenance staff for providing a great golf course in an environmental and green way!

Price - 5

The price of The Jewel is a bit steep, especially considering that most people are going to travel a good distance to play it. That said, it is lower than some of the high tier courses in the Twin Cities metro area but the time and monetary cost to play here lowers the score a tad bit more than a similarly priced course.

Architecture - 7

The Jewel is designed by 3 time US Open winner, Hale Irwin who later in his playing career went on to be a successful Champions Tour Player and eventually become a Golf Course Architect. A Good Walk Spoiled would love to do a deep dive on what seems like an interesting person and golf course designer but alas, this is not that post.

One thing that needs to be applauded is the routing at The Jewel. As was previously stated, there is a lot of interesting topography due to the River Bluffs carved out by the Mississippi River. To have an interesting golf course that is walkable and navigates these bluffs in a sensical fashion should be recognized. The one knock on the routing is the walk from the 9th green to the 10th tee is EXTREMELY long, especially for a course that does not mandiate carts.

There are a couple of memorable holes that stand out in terms of decision making and golf course architecture at the Jewel. However, the general consensus is that a lot of holes just bleed together and instead we have the lasting memory of the scenery and the cool environment that you play golf in. We are hoping to play this course more in the future so hopefully this changes and we can recall the intricacies and unique golf holes.

Value - 7

As was stated previously, The price of The Jewel is a bit high, especially considering that most people are going to travel a good distance to play it. If a course is going to be an excursion to get to, it better be worth the time and financial investment that is needed to play it. While the financial score may be hurt a bit, the beautiful scenery and the event you make of your day playing there is great in our minds. While yes the drive is a long way, it is just barely longer than some of the drives you can have in the Twin Cities metro if you are going across town with traffic. The scenery at The Jewel will trump just about any scenery you can find at any Twin Cities course and there is absolutely value in that!

Overall - 41

The Jewel gets lost in this middle ground being a long distance away from the cities but not being a destination or resort course. However that does not mean it is not a great course, it just means that this course can tend to be overlooked or underrated. While we have admitted, the architecture isn’t necessarily anything that is going to blow you away, The Jewel still provides a proper test of golf in a memorable and beautiful landscape. The course leans into its identity being in the river bluffs very well and it makes for a great and fun round of golf.

Thank you for reading the third post in our Top 10 Public Golf Courses in Minnesota. To stay up to date as we continue posting the list, be sure to Subscribe here so you are notified when our next course goes live. If you liked the content, consider checking out our other mediums. Over on instagram, we post great photos of golf courses, post engaging instagram stories and post Short Form video content. On our YouTube page, we have many videos that highlight certain golf courses. Recently, for whatever the reason, this video where we reviewed the Jones Carry Bag is getting a lot of views so check it out if you are looking for a new golf bag this year.

Thank you again for reading and stay tuned for next week as we release our number 7 course on the list.


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