Prairie Dunes Country Club – Played 2015
- Rankings: Golf Digest #25, Golf Magazine #17
- Location: 4812 East 30th Avenue, Hutchinson, Kansas
- Year: 1937/1957
- Architect: Perry Maxwell & Press Maxwell
- Course Access: Private
- Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available
Score Card Information:
- Gold: 6,940 yards, Par 70 , 75.5 Rating/146 Slope
- Blue: 6,535 yards, Par 70, 74.1 Rating/139 Slope
- White: 6,119 yards, Par 70 (Men’s), 72 (Women’s), 72.3 Rating/136 Slope (Men’s), 77.1 Rating/138 Slope (Women’s)
- Silver: 5,462 yards, Par 70 (Men’s), 72 (Women’s), 69.2 Rating/135 Slope (Men’s), 72.9 Rating/132 Slope (Women’s)
- Bronze: 5,035 yards, Par 70 (Men’s), 72 (Women’s), 67.4 Rating/132 Slope (Men’s), 70.5 Rating/126 Slope (Women’s)
This was a real treat! Due to a friend that is a nonresident member, a group of seven of us would be teeing it up at this masterpiece. The town that is home to the course is not very big and I believe that driving in you would be surprised to know that it has a Top 25 golf course. Don’t judge a book by its cover! The club is home to tennis, golf, swimming pool, clubhouse/restaurant, and guest cottages. We stayed in the cottages and they were awesome! A few pictures of those can be seen below.
Once we all got to the course, we unloaded our things and made our way to the men’s card room. We had a great lunch there and we were all filled with anticipation of our rounds. I must say that the wait staff was very attentive and knew exactly what you wanted after you ordered it once. It was quite an experience.
According to our host, there are quite a few nonresident members on the roll. This makes the course a regular host to semiannual treks from various parts of the country. You never know who you might meet.
The course is quite unique. I don’t believe you would confuse it with many other places in the US. As you will see in the following pictures, there is a lot of variance in the terrain which I was not expecting to see in Kansas.
The club was founded by Emerson Carey, the founder of a salt company. He enlisted Perry Maxwell to design the course. Per the club’s website, they used 18 horses and mules, Fresno scrapers, and wheelbarrows to mold the land! The first nine holes were completed in 1937 and in 1957 Perry’s son Press added nine more. There is some debate as to whether or not Perry already had plans drawn for the new nine holes, but we will leave that discussion for another day.
The course has a wonderful tournament history. It has hosted the 1964, 1980, and 1991 US Women’s Amateurs, 1986 Curtis Cup, 1988 US Mid Amateur, 1995 US Senior Amateur, 2002 US Women’s Open, 2006 US Senior Open, and 2014 Men’s NCAA Championship. In addition it hosted the Trans-Miss Men’s Amateur in 1958, 1973, 1987, 1996, and 2005.
Let’s get into the course tour. We played multiple rounds, but I took the pictures from the white tees. All yardages will be from there. Believe me, just because the yardage is short doesn’t mean you won’t get all the golf course you can handle. I have gotten into the habit of taking picture of the big clocks a lot of top courses seem to like to install. Check out the one at Prairie Dunes below.
The holes at PD all have names. That is always a nice touch that I appreciate. The opening tee shot plays to a pretty large area. You can hit it through the fairway on the right side. The hole bends sharply to the left. A good line is at the bunker you can see on the left.
Each hole here gives you a visual representation of what you will face. This is very helpful for your first time around the course.
This a short hole that only really requires a 200 yard shot. Some members in our group took on the green with driver. It is a risky play, but can work out great if executed.
Our second par three in three holes also plays uphill. Let me say that any of these bunkers is a no-go zone. Focus extra hard here to hit the green. It will pays serious dividends.
I suppose now is a good time to mention the knee-high rough that lurks off of all the holes here. The locals call it gunsch. It is very thick and can make finding balls very difficult. They burn it out periodically throughout the year, which results in plenty of burned Titleists!
The tee shot here plays to a hole that cants to the right. If you can hit a nice draw it will leave you in good position.
I found this hole easiest to play with a three wood. The tee is elevated so you should be able to get more distance. The best line is to split the first two bunkers you see.
This is the best hole on the course hands down in my opinion. It is demanding, but will reward good shots. If you play a shot just to the right of the lone tree down the middle you will be in prime position.
If you don’t hit your drive long enough the approach shot is partially blind. Due to the length of the shot the architect left the green open in front. The bunkers on the right are well below the green and will make par difficult to come by.
The hole here is a long one, but you will get some extra carry from the elevated tee. The center of the fairway works well here.
This tee is right off of the clubhouse and you may get an audience from the pool. It can be an intimidating shot when you see all the gunsch. In reality, the forced carry is not too far. The hole does slope uphill so more club may be required.
This is a brutally tough hole and can be even worse with the wind in your face. The water is not really in play, but you need a good drive. A good, aggressive line is at the people in the fairway.
You will get your exercise in on the walk up to the 12th tee!
This tee shot plays to a landing area that you cannot see in its entirety. If you hit one just over where the cart path disappears you will be in great shape.
This hole takes some strategy. You can take a direct line to the green and try to get it on. This is a long shot, but could set up an easy birdie. The other option is taking a shorter club and playing out to the right.
This is one of the only holes I didn’t like and it has nothing to do with the design. I think this hole is a poster child for the tree removal initiative. When playing the back tees you have to hit through a very narrow area. I hit a solid shot that would have been fine as a five yard draw, but instead it hit a tree 25 yards from the tee. This just doesn’t make sense to me.
This is a demanding tee shot. The bunkers in the distance are in play and pinch in the landing area. You need a straight one here.
This is one of the best holes on the property. A good drive can set you up to go for it in two. With the slope in the fairway you want to be as straight as possible to avoid bouncing into the rough.
The final hole gives you options. You can hit many clubs off this tee. The longer you go down the left side the more likely you are to run out of short grass. The shot can be a little awkward because the fairway is angled away from the tee.
Put simply, the experience at Prairie Dunes is awesome. It has one of the best set of greens I have ever seen. The variety of shots that I had to play was stimulating. The course was firm and fast. It felt well established on the site and it was a total joy from start to finish. If you have a chance to play it, do it! I know I say this a lot, but that is the case when you play Top 100’s. This was a special experience.