I had the opportunity to golf the Highlands with friends on 6-30-11. I have never seen a course in such poor condition. My immediate reaction is that the $54 dollars went immediately into someones pocket with nothing being spent on course maintenance or amenities. The greens had leaf and other tree debris on them as well. The bunkers were pathetic at best, with most lacking sufficient sand. The blacktop paths between holes are so rough and in need of repair that you were better off driving on the grass. They also failed to have a staff member come around to sell us refreshments during our 4 1/2 hours on the course. I can go on and on, but it is sence less since this course will close due to guests never returning. PS, my neighbors and I own a par 3 course that we maintain ourselves. Ms National gives golf course management a bad image and needs immediate changing of all top personnel.
Been a member for many years. Have never seen the course in such pathetic shape. Since the talk of the pending sale the course has been greatly neglected. At the U.S. open they grow the rough to 6 inches. The rough in many places is 8-12 inches here and full of dandelions. Finding your ball is almost impossible. Wish I had joined Red Wing Country club instead.
Highland Golf Courses are unknown in Illinois. So, when the cart path begins the long climb and this through a series of switchbacks, "expectation is palpable" and this course does not disappoint. Much of the layout is cut through an old hardwood forest so, accuracy is definitely required-However, the views are memorable, though this course boasts their 17th as a signature hole--there are actually several.
Facilities are wonderful, Staff Helpful and Green Fee W/Cart (as if one could actually walk it) is under $60.00.
Another significant Highlands venue is the Lake City Course on Lake Pepin but my favorite is M.N.
I played the Highlands and Lowlands courses in one day in mid-May and had a great time on each one. The Highlands lives up to its name with massive slope and elevation changes, elevated tees and greens, and many panoramic views of the MIssissippi River valley. I played on a very windy day so when you factor in the elevation changes (up to 2 clubs) and the gusty winds (up to 3 clubs) it made club selection very challenging to say the least. From tee to green the signature par-3 17th hole drops who-knows-how-far (200 feet?) and I've never played a hole quite like it. You almost need a sherpa to get down to the green and your tee shot seems to float forever before it finally returns to Earth.
All of the greens were in fantastic shape and were consistently fast and smooth. There are a couple of semi-blind tee shots and quite a few elevated greens where you can't see where your ball lands. And it seems like just about every non par-3 hole has a small-medium dogleg which makes you think about how to shape your drives or how much of the corner to try to cut off. All in all the Highlands is a really good course and a great value.
The Lowlands also offers its own set of challenges. It is longer than the Highlands and in general it's more open and much, much flatter. If your driver is a little wild you can usually get away with it since the fairways are wider, the rough is not deep, and there are adjacent fairways to hit from if you're really off the mark. If you spray a shot on the Highlands, it's a souvenir for whatever lives in the woods or on the cliffs. Neither course has much water to worry about but the Lowlands has a few more ponds and creeks to navigate. The Lowlands also has an unusual set of finishing holes with 15, 16, and 18 being relatively short par fives. It also had very true and fast greens that seemed a little bigger and more sloped than the Highlands.
The clubhouse is nice enough with a decent pro shop and good food at the bar (go for the Texas Burger or Burner Burger). The driving range is short but works out well as long as you don't mind walking about 1/3 mile to get to it. Using a cart is a must on these courses unless you are in really good physical shape and want to play 18 holes in less than 6 hours.
Try both courses...you'll like each one!