The course at Prairie View Golf Club lies within a bend in the White River, close to the city of Carmel, where fairways bordered by tall native grasses are routed around natural wetland areas and five serene lakes.
The front nine holes are quite open, with wide landing areas on fairways dotted with bunkers, while the back nine presents a combination of open and tree-lined holes, some of which are rather tight off the tee.
Bunkering is often elaborate, with the par four 16th a good example. A sea of sand traps forces players to lay-up off the tee and this strategy is re-enforced by a dry creek rock bed crossing the fairway less than a hundred yards short of the green.
The four par fives are all challenging, generally presenting narrow approach options to well-protected green complexes. The 13th is a very good risk-reward hole, giving golfers the option of laying up safely in the wide landing area on the left, or going for the green in two by carrying a water hazard to the sand-protected green.
Afforded a fairly flat piece of property in the middle of Indiana, the settings for Prairie View left something to be desired. Considering that this was to serve as the sole public route in Carmel, a wealthy suburb of Indianapolis, it’s only natural that they brought in Robert Trent Jones II—a natural at creating the unnatural—to add some sedimentary "sparkle." Rare is the hole where the player won’t be menaced by one of his diverse sand installations.
No. 5 is a short (but certainly not drivable) Par 4, where the player must consider going over the mounded bunkers that split the fairway laterally, or lay up for an obscured approach to a lateral green, protected by yet another trio of hazards. No. 11’s dogleg-right fairway is pressured by several swathes of sand, and the green is pencil thin thanks to another intrusive piece of granular landscaping. No. 13 snakes from right-to-left-to-right between two irrigation ponds, both of which come with respective lines of fairway bunkers. It’s quite reasonable target for two good shots, just like every other Par 5 on the property (Prairie’s longs far outrank its shorts). Finally, No. 17’s long Par 4 cape is traced by a lengthy trench. You will be grateful for this one, perhaps. After a long day of being punished by the course’s many sand hazards, at least this one has prevented your ball from rolling into the pond.
There has never been bones about a Jones using bunkers, so you’ll understand what you’re getting into. Happily, Prairie View’s maintenance standards prevent the hazards from playing unfairly once therein (whether they are fairly placed for amateur golfers is another question, frequently associated with all the Jones boys). If the designer’s name doesn’t immediately turn you away, you’ll probably like what you see.