Prairie Dunes Country Club
Sixth hole, 390 yards, Cedar, (Perry); When Perry Maxwell’s nine holes opened for play in 1937, golfers headed to this tee from the second green and played this as their third hole. Great use of natural landforms abound and the accomplished golfer likes to hit a draw down the right of this fairway to a) get a sling forward off its high right side and b) to open up a view of the putting surface that is otherwise obscured from the left by a large bunker short of the green. Many a golfer upon approaching the green complex is disappointed/perplexed to find his ball in the swale between the short front bunker and the green. The resulting recovery shot can be played with a three wood to a flop wedge to a putter.
Seventh hole, 510 yards, South Wind, (Perry); When the hole lives up to its name South Wind, a good drive can ride the wind and catch the down slope in the fairway, leaving the golfer with a mid-iron into this par five. However, the target is a tight one as the green is sandwiched between two hummocks with sand and tall grass all around. Conversely, when a front is moving through, and the opposite wind is blowing, this can be one of the most demanding holes on the course.
Eighthhole, 430 yards, Dunes, (Perry); The fact that this famous hole needs no fairway bunkers speaks as to its wildly rolling topography. Indeed, when Coore first walked the property in 1984 with then Green Keeper Doug Petersan, he remarked that he had never seen land better suited for golf. Petersan, ironically as it turns out, replied that he knew where there was land of comparable quality and that was in the sand hills of Nebraska. Of course, over a decade later, Coore would be found working there but he is the first to point out that Prairie Dunes set the stage for all future prairie courses. Not content with just the difficult tee to green aspect of the eighth, Perry Maxwell built what is possibly the course’s most severe green with four feet (!) of elevation change from back to front and a ridge through its back middle. Having only taken the game up at the late age of thirty-five, Perry became famous for working on some of finest greens in the country including those at National Golf Links of America and Pine Valley. Of all his work, no single green is any more impressive than the one here.
Ninth hole, 450 yards, Meadow Lark (Perry); The fairway contours at Prairie Dunes are the near equal to the ‘Maxwell rolls’, a term famously associated with Perry Maxwell’s green contours. And nowhere are these contours better highlighted than in the ninth fairway. According to the yardage book, Maxwell used a team of mules pulling fresno scrapers to move the earth. Though a slow and laborious process, the end result can be seen with this rippling fairway. The invariably uneven stance contributes much to the hole’s natural defenses.
Tenth hole, 185 yards, Yucca, (Perry); Is there any course whose first three one shotters are as good as the ones at Prairie Dunes? Perhaps Pine Valley given its diversity of length but no other course readily springs to mind unless one was to cheat and pick the Composite course at Royal Melbourne. This is an important fact because if one is coming this far to play one golf course,the golfer needs to be treated to holes of great exception – and Prairie Dunes possesses them like few other courses. When the Mid-Amateur was contested here in 1988, five players teed off on the tenth in a play-off for the last two spots of match play. Two players made double bogey – and they advanced to match play!
Eleventh hole, 450 yards, Honey Locust, (Press); This hole ends one of the toughest four hole stretches in the game and for some, it is their favorite Press hole. In fact, the next six holes are all Press holes and they lead the golfer into a part of the property that has a slightly different look and feel to the front nine with cottonwood trees being more prevalent. The knob in front of the eleventh green is a stroke of design genius and deflects the weakly hit ball to the left or right.