Prairie Landing Golf Club: A Full Menu of Delights in Chicago

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

WEST CHICAGO - About half an hour from the city there is a diamond in the rough ready to be found. Prairie Landing Golf Club is a links-style course built by none other than Robert Trent Jones Jr.

A huge clubhouse waits as golfers drive on the property. With the service being impeccable and the facility being spacious, Prairie Landing is perfect for a banquet, business meeting or golf outing of up to 200 guests. Well-kept men's and women's locker rooms, along with a well-stocked pro shop round out the clubhouse.

The architects also took into account the importance of warming up before a challenging round of golf. Instead of sticking a driving range off to the side like even the best courses do, Prairie Landing added three practice holes to its resume. A large putting green, practice tee area and plenty of guidance from the staff make the course's practice facility the best in the area, hands downs.

While the amenities are beautiful, Jones' ability to make the best out of terrain and space is the reason to keep on coming back to this masterpiece. Every square foot has its purpose but the course layout is not crowded. Moguls and ridges give each hole a unique perspective.

The great use of space is evident on the first hole. The first tee on most courses has the obstacle of fighting activity around the clubhouse or finishing holes. This 344-yard par-4 was built with a large ridge down the left side and a wasteland to the right giving the golfer standing on the first tee tunnel vision.

The drive itself is a strategic challenge as long hitters can put it down the right side over water and end up with an easy chip to a long green. A long iron can also be conservatively played off the first tee and still end up with a birdie opportunity. This hole is a great example of the risk-reward golf that awaits players.

The third hole is the first of five par-3s on the course. It is a 205-yard hole that plays left to right. Bunkers in front of the narrow, but big green are the only obstacles to worry about. A marsh that runs along the right side does not come into play with a well-struck iron to the left side of the green.

A shot over the green usually will catch one of the trio of traps behind the putting surface making this a brutal hole to score on if the wind is at your back.

The fifth hole is one of the most intriguing in the area, a 388-yard par-4, dogleg to the left. It is not of the traditional tree laden layouts usually found on doglegs in the Midwest. This hole asks players to stay out of the deep creek that splits the hole in two. It is a matter of where golfers want to take on the hazard.

Golfers that are going over the water on the drive have to contend with an intimidating ridge and huge bunker that takes tee shots out of play on the left side, making the landing area very small and tight. A play down the right side gives golfers a reprieve from the water until their next shot. A small bunker directly in front of the tiny green comes into play on the approach.

If a par is scored on the fifth hole, players have no time to celebrate. The sixth hole is another dilemma for even the best of thinkers on the links. Like golf holes of yester year, this 178-yard par-3 gives the ground crew options from the tee box. Two large moguls split it into three separate driving areas.

A massive bunker in front of the large awkward green makes any of the three tee shots difficult. The green slopes sharply to the center front making any pin placement in the back almost an impossible birdie.

The last hole on the front side is the second longest par-4 on the course. It is a slight dogleg to the left and measures 435 yards. This tee shot should be played center left as the left side of the front of the green acts as a landing area when the pin is in front.

A lake on the right side, along with bunkers on the same side gives any drive lost to a slice a tough approach. A bunker does not come into play unless the wind is kicking.

The second nine is more wooded than the front side making it a good change of pace. The second hole on the backside is a short par-4 measuring 365 yards. There is absolutely no reason to challenge the wasteland that cuts into the hole about 250 yards from the tee.

Placing a long iron in the fairway of this left to right hole will give most golfers an easy approach which has water on the right and a large bunker on the left to contend with. If players are on in regulation, a birdie is not out of the question on this flat green.

The next hole is the longest par-3 on the course. Making it even tougher, it is all carry over a large pond. A bailout area for the intimidated comes into play on the left side. Golfers should place their egos in their back pockets and use the bail out area more than not, because even getting on in regulation does not guarantee a par.

The last hole on the course is a long, treacherous par-5 that asks almost too much from amateurs. On the tee box, players are looking at two bunkers placed in the middle of the fairway about 250 yards out. If a drive is placed in between the bunkers and the left rough, it leaves long hitters a 235-yard fairway wood over water to a small green protect in the front by the same pond.

If played conservatively down the middle of the fairway, the second shot is a middle iron with water on the left. Bunkers well placed on the right side makes the landing area of any well struck second shot one of the tightest on the course. A par here is well deserved since this is one of the best finishing holes in the area.

After golf, Prairie Landing offers a full menu with sandwiches and a full bar in a very comfortable clubhouse overlooking the golf course, making this establishment a can't miss when it comes to golf in Chicago.

Prairie Landing Golf Club
West Chicago, Illinois
Phone (630) 208-7600

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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