Saturday, April 7, 2012

Round #11: Kansas - Prairie Dunes Country Club

You know you have arrived in Kansas when the billboards are advertising storm shelters. Kansas was a questionable destination for my March itinerary. My fear was that it would be too far north to play with cold weather and dormant grass. The unusually warm weather this spring alleviated those concerns while also introducing a potential for severe storms. You know you have arrived in Kansas when the billboards are advertising storm shelters. With a major storm heading from the Gulf of Mexico up into the Midwest, I planned to get the golf completed before it arrived.

Round: #11
Location: Hutchinson, KS
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #1
Date: 18 Mar, tee off at 10:40 AM
Conditions: overcast skies, 18 MPH wind, 67 degrees
Yardage: 6,515
Lost balls: 0
Score: 81 on a par 70
The fairways and greens on the Prairie Dunes course were much greener than I expected. The native grass growing on the dunes was still dormant; a factor that worked to my advantage as I was able to find the ball when a few of my shots missed the fairway. 

Sand trap above the 161-yard par 3 hole #2 

Approach shot to the green from the rough on the 370-yard par 4 hole #6 

 Blind approach shot to the green from the rough on the 395-yard par 4 hole #13 

Sand trap next to the green on the 500-yard par 5 hole #17 (view back up the fairway) 

The advancing storm front was expected to bring 20-30 MPH winds with gusts up to 40 MPH. I showed up early in an attempt to get ahead of the strong wind; the 18 MPH wind at tee off did increase to 26 MPH by the time I made the turn to the back nine. Wind has a major impact on ball flight. I hit a 200-yard shot into the wind to reach the green on the 161-yard hole #2. The same shot carried past the green into the dunes on the 168-yard hole #4 when I mis-judged the wind direction.

161-yard par 3 hole #2 

2nd shot from the rough on the 168-yard par 3 hole #4

The wind did work to my advantage when it is blowing from behind pushing the ball further down the fairway. The tee shots on holes #12 and #18 traveled 285-yards leaving short chip shots into the greens. By contrast, my tee shot on hole #14 into the wind traveled only 200 yards down the fairway. 

390-yard par 4 hole #12 

358-yard par 4 hole #14

382-yard par 4 hole #18

As you play a round of golf the wind is not always directly in your face or at your back. When it comes from the side you must guess at how far it will push the ball sideways before landing. This challenge was heightened on hole #15 where tall trees boxed in the tee shot into a left to right sideways wind. 

200-yard par 3 hole #15

View from the green back to the tee box on hole #15

Once the golf was completed, we decided to make a quick trip home before any rain moved in. I reset the car’s trip computer as we pulled out of a Hutchinson gas station at 2:00 PM. We arrived home at 11:15 PM, covering the 586-mile distance at an average speed of 71.6 MPH (the car’s engine was off only 53 minutes when we stopped for food & gas). The 65 MPH highway and 75 MPH interstate speed limits in Kansas helped speed us along. I was impressed with a 300-HP car that could deliver 30.9 miles-per-gallon over the last leg of our trip.
Our journey trough Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas  covered 3,400 miles over an 8-1/2 day time period.

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