The story goes that architect Perry Maxwell found this land in Hutchinson and said to the Carey family, “Here’s your golf course.”
This is how the course was built, using the only mechanically functioning equipment at the time: the Ford Model T and Model A and opened its first nine holes in 1937, its other nine in 1957. The other nine holes were designed by Perry Maxwell’s son. , Press Maxwell.
Prairie Dunes Country Club Golf Course was recently rated the best private golf course in Kansas by USA Today’s Golfweek in a state-by-state golf rankings article in early June.
A championship golf course
The Hutchinson Country Club has become known nationwide and has hosted numerous tournaments including the US Women’s Open in 2002, the US Women’s Amateur in 1991, the NCAA Men’s Championship in 2014 won by Alabama Crimson Tide .
Prairie Dunes will be the site of the 2023 Big 12 Men’s Golf Championships. The course has already hosted the conference event 13 times.
What makes the course unique? Course superintendent Cory Griess, who oversees the course and maintenance, said he and his staff are working to meet the expectations of the course’s original construction.
“The bottom line is that Perry Maxwell and Press Maxwell were the architects from the start,” Griess said. “They created this place with a vision and a certain mentality of how it should look, play and feel. It’s kind of what we do on a day-to-day basis. Are we living up to that expectation of what they wanted? Obviously they’re ‘I’m not here anymore. How old photos and articles and all that historical documentation and hearsay is what it should look like (and) that’s how it is should play. That’s what we look for daily from my side.
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Meet the expectations of the Maxwells
By staying on top of these standards, the club has been able to run many tournaments since its inception. Griess said hosting the Big 12 Championships is a unique opportunity because they can host some of the best college golfers in the country.
“They come back every two or three years, and we house them,” Griess said. “I think it’s great. What a great atmosphere for the kids. I mean, Big 12, there are some big names. When we got it last year, we had five Walker cuppers playing in the Championship Big 12. These are the best of the Seeing them here for a few days is awesome.
“It’s great for the club. It’s great. We have a lot of members coming to see us. We’re proud of that, the club too, and we want to continue this relationship with them.”
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Griess talked about keeping the architecture of the course the same as how it was built and designed by the Maxwells. Perry Maxwell has been recognized for resurfacing numerous putting surfaces at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, where The Masters is played. With the evolution of golf courses, he said doing little things and making “little tweaks” helps keep the course as it was created.
He said they haven’t changed all but three greens on the course.
“Looking and playing is kind of the main thing,” Griess said. “We are proud of these greens. Our golf course greens are 85 years old. There are only three greens here that we have changed. Otherwise the others have been intact for 85 years. We are very proud of that.”
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Golf, tennis and swimming
Located at 4812 East 30th Ave., the country club not only features a golf course, but also tennis courts, a pool, and a restaurant. The swimming pool is located on the south side of the club with the tennis courts on the north side of the main building.
Griess said the golf course might be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Prairie Dunes, but he added that the extra amenities add the real feel of the club’s social aspect.
Prairie Dunes is one of three Hutchinson courses; the other two are Carey Park Golf Course and Crazy Horse Golf Course. Membership in Prairie Dunes is by invitation only, but Griess said the club is not a closed club.
“We allow reciprocal play and things like that,” Griess said. “We’re definitely not a closed club where you can’t walk through the front door. We do tournaments and things like that. Just things like that. We try to bring the Midwest vibe to our club to our members and to the members who are also all over the country.”
The goal for Griess and his team is to make it feel like the ties of a course as much as they can allow. He said ultimately they want to try and stay the course on the Perry Maxwell-Midwest links type course.
“That’s what we do for sure,” Griess said. “I’ve been given a big responsibility that I know and appreciate, and I just want to take it and run with it and continue to keep what Perry Maxwell and Press Maxwell wanted this place to be. This is this what we’re trying to do and achieve. I think that’s what made this place so special.
Billy Watson is the sports reporter for The Hutchinson News and has been in Kansas since March 2021. To pitch story ideas, you can email [email protected] or direct message on Twitter @hutchsports Where @billywatson4l.