Prairie View Golf Club – Carmel, IN
Tucked into 206 acres in the upscale Indianapolis Community of Carmel, Prairie View Golf Club delivers exactly what you would want in an upscale golf experience. There are no homes lining the fairways of the only Robert Trent Jones design in the state of Indiana, in fact you find far more nature than you would anticipate with lakes, streams, natural wetlands and yes lots and lots of trees and prairie grass.
A great combination of tree lined and open prairie style holes; variety is definitely one of the great features at Prairie View. Despite the fact that we were there in March, the greens rolled perfectly and the fairways provided plenty of turf to get approach shots airborne. I can only imagine how pristine this place will be after a few months of warm weather allow the trees to fill in, native grasses to grow and fairways and greens to get, well, green.
The front nine starts in the open prairie for the first five holes and had a different club in my hands for every approach shot, which I think is the sign of a great design. The par-3, 4th hole is probably a mid-iron, but playing into the wind was much more. While there is plenty of room to bail out left and miss the creek and drop off to the right, up and down from the left is nearly impossible so I will take my bogey and run. The most fun and most challenging hole on the front 9 is by far the par-4, 9th. Playing into the wind again and at just over 400 yards this would be a challenge with nothing else. Now throw in a well-placed fairway bunker on the right, water left all the way down the landing area and water short of the well bunkered and severely sloped green, you have got all you can handle. I hit the green and still did not feel terrible with my 3-putt bogey as I had a 40 footer with a lot of slope up and to the left.
The Back Nine is where this golf course really shows its teeth. The first three holes are tree lined, well bunkered from fairway to green and the par-3, 12th is 180 yards over the natural wetlands and by the way with no bail out right or left. Hitting that green was probably the best shot of the day. My favorite holes on the course started with the par-5, 13th . A slightly down hill and for us down wind that day par-5 of just over 500 yards. With a little firmer conditions, I think going for two is a real possibility if you do not mind carrying water the entire way to the green. The green itself is huge, sloped and depending on the hole location a very challenging approach from the diagonal facing fairway if you lay up as I had to. Par was a good score.
My other favorite, maybe because it resulted in the best par I have made in years is the par-4, 7th. A dogleg left with water and bunkers all the way down the left side, the biggest test on this hole is the green. Sloped severely from right to left and back to front, we played to a back right pin which really made my miss pin high right not good. In two months, I have no change, but because the rough was still low and allowed for a ball to bounce and trundle, I was able to will the ball to 5 feet and made a putt with still 5 inches of break. Miss short and left and you have to decide to pitch up over a 4 foot rise in the green or hit a putt so hard it just does not feel right as my partner did leaving an impossible 4 footer coming back down the hill.
Prairie View is an outstanding example of how you can provide variety and use every club in the bag over 18 holes. This Trent Jones layout gives you plenty of landing area and challenges your eyes on the approaches and your creativity on the greens without being unfair. I will put Indy and Prairie View on my list of must returns later this Spring or Summer to see how quick these greens can get.
To learn more about Prairie View Golf Club visit www.prairieviewgc.com.