When summer in Texas rolls around, sometimes you double-think your outdoor tee time for a cooler activity. However, the residents of Grand Prairie have the best kept secret of an oasis around that will bring some breezes to your sweltering days: Prairie Lakes Golf Course. Not only do you get the small gusts of air coming off Mountain Creek Lake, but the course itself is an impeccably kept track that is fun for golfers of all skill levels.
Right off the bat, one of the best aspects about Prairie Lakes is the layout. There are three sets of nine holes: the Red, White and Blue Courses. It can give each round a different feel with mixing and matching, or sometimes you’re just itching for the extra nine holes to practice or keep the day going.
The Red Course sits on the northwest side of the property and features the most water out of the three courses. Starting off, No. 1 is a nice par 5 that plays 510 yards from the tips. It borders S.E. 14th Street on the left side, has a sprinkling of small trees running down the right, but plays pretty straight. The only potential danger comes from a creek that flows about 60 yards from the green. It’s not too close to the green, or too close the landing area, so it serves as more of a warning of what’s ahead than a direct threat for a penalty.
Nos. 4 and 5 on the Red Course really test your accuracy among the wetlands. The par-5 fourth hole plays 510 yards from the back tees and plays as a straightway, with the exception of the small left angling of the hole about 75 yards from the pin. The sneaky part of this hole, rated as the No. 1 handicap hole on this nine, is that where the fairway takes a left turn into the green, it’s sandwiched in between two lakes: one small body of water on the right that is readily visible, and one larger pond on the left that is hidden behind a giant pine tree. Let me speak from experience and let you know, it does not open up behind the big pine. There’s a lake there. This hole is difficult because if you’re trying to play it safe and get a good angle into the green, you still have to contend the water on the right and the huge tree on the left. If you want to bomb it down there for a chance at a birdie, there’s plenty of ponds to splash into. This hole gets tricky pretty quickly.
The fifth hole is a picturesque par-3 with a creek in front of the green. Prairie Lakes boasts it has the “best par 3s in the Metroplex,” and you can see why on this hole. The 165-yard hole requires a full carry from the tee as a large pond takes up the area between the tee boxes and the green. Water seems to be the main nemesis throughout the nines, so if you can get past the Red Course relatively unscathed, you’ll see a greater percentage of green on the upcoming holes.
The White Course features my favorite trifecta of holes, which happen to be Prairie Lakes’ signature stretch as well. Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are nicknamed the Bermuda Triangle due to their triangular formation and their presence on the banks of Mountain Creek Lake, but the gorgeous clumps of the lilac-colored lake hyacinth in the rippling waters make this trio visually stunning as well.
The par-3 fifth hole is situated on top of one of the fingers of Mountain Creek Lake. The green is guarded by water all along the front and right sides and features a dense line of trees and shrubbery behind the hole. The cart path and a few square feet of land are the only separation between the larger lake and another smaller one on the left. You feel like you’re way out in the middle of the lake here. Accuracy is crucial here, because if you spray it any direction except for the pin, you’re going to hear a splash.
The next hole is one of my favorites on the White Course. No. 6 is a narrow par 4 that is squeezed in between the lake and a large pond. The fairway looks deviously narrow from the tee box, but it gradually widens the closer it gets to the green. Once you find the large green, it is like grabbing the innertube after being lost at sea: it feels great to not be in the middle of water anymore!
The Blue Course, in my opinion, features some of the toughest holes throughout the nines, including No. 5, which is rated as the hardest hole at Prairie Lakes. Don’t let the picturesque 555-yard par 5 distract you; this tree-lined beast has the slightest dogleg to the left layout that eventually plays downhill straight into a lake. It’s a tough birdie hole because if you’re going for it in two, you’ve got to be absolutely certain you’re not going to end up short.
The very next hole, the par-3 sixth, isn’t long (160 yards from the back tees) but has one of the most undulated greens throughout the three Courses. Depending on pin placement, you might be in for a tough stretch on the Blue Course.
Other top-notch amenities include the golf carts and the practice area. I was pleasantly surprised by the zippy electric carts and realized I’ve been taking them for granted; you really notice when you don’t have them at other courses. Yes, the carts are only a small part of the larger operation, but they can make such a difference to the pace (and noise level) of your round.
The practice facilities are great, too, for working on any aspect of your game- including bunker shots! Even though you won’t need to use it on their course, Prairie Lakes has a practice bunker for sharpening your sand shots for when you take your game elsewhere. In addition to the practice bunker, there’s a full driving range, chipping area and Texas’ largest practice green for putting.
This wouldn’t be a review of Prairie Lakes if I left out Eddlemon’s BBQ, would it? The casual dining area and snack bar that serves the award-winning barbeque sets the food apart from other municipal facilities. The full-service restaurant is great for breakfast, grabbing food at the turn or finishing your round with a beer and some brisket.
Prairie Lakes, with the exception of a few tough holes, is probably one of the most player-friendly layouts in the Metroplex with its bunkerless courses and relatively straightforward hole designs. I’d recommend this course to any new golfer or seasoned pro; for newbies, it’s not a menacing track filled with booby traps right and left, but it will still challenge the better golfer with the ever-present water. So, whether you’re a Grand Prairie local or a visitor from another Metroplex neighborhood, Prairie Lakes is here waiting for you to squeeze the most golf out of your summer.
Prairie Lakes Golf Course
Address: 3202 SE 14th St.
Grand Prairie, TX 75052
Phone: (972) 237-4156
Designer: Ralph Plummer
Year Opened: 1965
Par/Yardage: Red – 36/3,340 yards; White – 35/3,115 yards; Blue – 36/3,360 yards
Rates: Mon-Fri $35; Sat-Sun $50 (Rates are for prime hours and include cart fee)
Toughest Hole: Blue Course No. 5, a 555-yard par 5. This hole throws everything at you: length, trees and water. You can’t lose focus because if you spray it off the tee you’re going to be in trouble, and if you end up short on your approach you’re going to be in the water. There aren’t many good misses on this hole; you just have to tackle it head on.
Favorite Hole: White Course No. 1, 480-yard par 5. This dogleg to the right par 5 features a line of trees on either side of the fairway. They’re not overly dense, and a nice low punch shot can get you out in a hurry, but they still lurk around trying to knock down your shot. After a tee shot into the trees on the left, I fell victim to the lower branches on my second shot. A good punch got me 6 feet from the pin, and I tapped in the putt thinking I had saved par from under the trees. It’s my favorite because I didn’t realize I had made birdie until I had made it back to the cart, which is a surprise I always welcome.
Most Intriguing Hole: Red Course No. 4, a 540-yard par 5. Although it’s tough as well, this one is a puzzler on how to successfully approach the green. It’s not too difficult down the stretch, but the last 100 yards are a doozy. Water on both sides, along with a last-minute dogleg to the left angle, make it tough to choose: cut the corner on the left and risk the water, or risk the water in the smaller pond on the right for a better-angled approach shot? Either way, it’s not an easy ending to a par 5.