The concept of a “prairie” makes most Americans think about grasslands, but Prairie Landings will make most golfers think of water once they’re done with a round.
Robert Trent Jones Jr. makes his game known right from the tee at this Chicago-area public access course: The opening par four, despite being well under 400 yards, features two significant water hazards, with a large lake to the right off the tee, and then another pond to the left of the green upon approach.
Almost every hole has a wet hazard of some sort, but perhaps that at No. 5 is the most noticeable. Players will have the opportunity, from the tee, to drive straight over the creek running along the left side, to arrive at the second fairway. Or, if less adrenaline is running through their veins, they can play to the standard fairway and cross the creek during their approach shot. Of course, they may choose to lay up on this par four rather than attack the green in such a situation.
Although no water is present at No. 6, the par three features two separate sets of tees, meaning players will face a different angle to the green from day-to-day.
Thanks to the creativity and work of the maintenance team, Prairie Landing has evolved from a rather nondescript RTJ course to a very interesting, playable design with tons of interesting short grass. Oddly placed bunkers on hills have been replaced by banking fairways, but I really wish either the greens would expand or the approaches were cut shorter so these areas could be used as designed.
The course itself features a lot of risk reward, with a driveable hole off the bat at one and a split fairway decision on four. 18 is a massive fairway split by bunkers, which if challenged can give a great look at a heroic long iron to reach the green in two.
Prairie Landing is one of the more slept on options in the western suburbs, I definitely prefer it to Cantigny (it's also a lot cheaper). Its located right between North Ave and Roosevelt Rd making it easy to get to. It can get windy which may deter some people, but honestly, golf is more fun with more variables.