The Kansas side of Kansas City seemed to have some decent public courses from my research. Prairie Highlands, Falcon Ridge, Ironhorse, and Sycamore Ridge were all considerations. My first choice was Ironhorse but they had a tournament when we wanted to play and I got scared that Sycamore Ridge would be too much like Forest Ridge (with trouble everywhere) so we ended up at Prairie Highlands. The course looked pretty open on the website and it bills itself as a “links style” course. In addition, it is on the Golf.com list of the top public courses in the state.
We drove through some heavy rain the night before and weren’t surprised to find that the course was soaked when we got there. It was going to cart path only so we decided to walk as it looked like a reasonable walk. What I didn’t care for about walking is that there is no discount to walk. It was $60 to play on a Friday morning which is a decent price for a high ranked course, but it seemed like a way to squeeze a few more dollars from a customer on a course that turned out to be no problem to walk. However, I am not sure if this practice differs later in the day or on other days during the week. Because the storms passed through it was cold, still windy, and gloomy. It was one of those days were I didn’t want to wake up and the conditions affected my game and my mood early on during the round. The course is a community course with almost every hole having some homes along at least one side. The homes should not come into play, but were just an eyesore throughout the round. We played the Blue tees at 71.2/130/6481 and the course opens with three mid length par 4’s before it gets a little more interesting. The 4th is a 547 yard par 5 where the tee shot can be aggressive over the fairway bunkers or conservative out to the right. The 5th is a 196 yard par 3 that plays to a green with a large slope that divides the green into front and back sections. The 6th is a short downhill par 4 with an approach over a hazard. From the fairway, the green is framed with the course logo in white rocks behind the green. The 7th, a 432 yard par 4, is the toughest hole on the course as it has trouble down the right side and out of bounds left. I liked the 8th which is a short par 3 with a green that has a couple different tiers. The back has four par 4’s of 360 yards or less and I think the 10th is the only stand out hole until the closing holes. The 10th is a 357 yard par 4 that plays down the hill and needs a layup to about 130 or 140 yards from the green. The 15th is a 503 yard par 5 with water left and was a good test back into the wind. The green is also guarded by water which made the back flag tough to find with the approach. The 17th is a 307 yard par 4 that does give someone a chance to get it close to the green on the drive. There are a couple collection areas short of the green so the attempt to drive it would need to be weighed against the pin location as the possible pitch is over a deep bunker. The 18th is a 403 yard par 4 to a narrow green with trouble long and right.
The course had some other features which I liked including some fescue off the fairway and native grass around the bunkers. The course is well bunkered off the tee and many holes allowed for recovery from an average shot. One big thing in the course’s favor is that it is a community course which can be walked. Many times a community course is so spread out through the homes that it isn’t practical to walk because the tees are so far from the greens. Here, the tees were close to the greens except for a couple spots. Because of the weather we caught the course in less than pristine shape. The greens held foot prints and were a bit bumpy and the tees and fairways were a bit longer because the mowers could not get out. I’ve got mixed feelings about the course but in the end I think there are too many vanilla holes and too many houses.