Prairie Dunes Country Club is a golf course located just outside Hutchinson, Kansas. Frequently ranked among the best golf courses in the United States, it has hosted several United States Golf Association national championship tournaments. The club was founded by Emerson Carey and his four sons in the mid-1930s. The course was designed by Perry Maxwell, and the first nine holes opened on September 13, 1937. Twenty years later in 1957, a second 9 holes were opened, designed by Press Maxwell (Perry’s son).
Prairie Dunes enjoys a colossal reputation in the world of golf and yet, curiously, not but so many people make the trek to Hutchinson, Kansas to see the course. They know that the wind, humpy-bumpy fairways, plum thicket and firm playing conditions make it play akin to the great links in the United Kingdom. But, unlike in the U.K., where for instance, Turnberry, Prestwick, Royal Troon, and Western Gailes are in a cluster, Prairie Dunes stands alone. Also, too, they reason that a visitor must be accompanied by a member as is the typical policy at leading private clubs in the United States.
In this last regard, Prairie Dunes is more like a British club whereby a proper Letter of Introduction can help a visitor gain access to the course at certain times through the week. In short, the good people here in the Midwest believe in sharing, which effectively makes Prairie Dunes the very definition of a national treasure. And given the ease of travel and the Wichita airport being readily accessible, there is simply no reason that any student of the game doesn’t beat a path to play this course.
The best way to convince someone of the merit in doing so is simply to showcase each hole because they are individually of such a uniformly high standard that no architectural education is complete without studying them. One reason that the Maxwells achieved so much here is that Perry was instrumental in selecting this location. Initially, another parcel of land was being considered but Perry convinced the founders of the merits of today’s prairie site with its random dunes.