Historically, Grand Prairie has seen its share of great places to enjoy some leisure time with friends and family. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Lone Star Park and Texas Trust CU Theatre are some of the older and more well-known reasons to visit Grand Prairie. But a recent renaissance on the south side of town has rejuvenated the city with destinations like EpicCentral, which features the Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark, the Boulder Adventure Park, Chicken N Pickle and their nightly water and light show. In addition, a Big Shots Golf is rumored to be planned for the second quarter of 2024, making this area an up-and-coming destination for entertainment.
With all there is to offer in Grand Prairie, there are still a pair of city golf courses that you need to see. Tangle Ridge, which is on the south side of town, and Prairie Lakes, which is perennially one of our favorite municipal facilities in the area.
Tucked next to Mountain Creek Lake, Prairie Lakes is not only a great budget-friendly option for beginners, but depending on the tees you select, it can also be a challenge for the high-level player as well. Designed by Ralph Plummer and just celebrating their 60th birthday, the trio of nines present players with a plethora of shot options, with their mesquite and oak-lined, tight fairways and their undulating, shot-makers green complexes.
For this feature, we will open discussing the Red Nine, which I would consider to be the most user-friendly of the three. Should you begin on the Red, it is a great way to ease into the round before taking on the more challenging White or Blue.
Right out of the gates, the Red presents a great scoring opportunity with a gettable par 5. The fairway is fairly narrow, but find it and you are presented with a great opportunity to get home in two. There is water short of the green, so be sure to take plenty of club to avoid finding it. This one is a great way to potentially find yourself under par after the first hole.
After back-to-back par 4s, players see the second par 5 of the nine. Playing at 540 yards from the tips, this is probably a three-shot par 5 for all but the longest players. A good tee shot down the right side of the fairway leaves an optimal angle for a lay-up. The pond short and left of the green must be carried to have a chance for birdie or par.
No. 5 is a 165-yard par 3 over water. Depending on wind conditions, this can be a tough club selection. It plays a touch downhill and usually into a prevailing breeze, so choosing the proper club can be tough. The miss is a little long, as anything short will end up wet and bring double into play.
Another par 4 and a par 3 follow before you will come to the most interesting hole design on the property. For expert players, the par-4 eighth is a real risk vs. reward hole, where you can choose the long way home, which is almost all carry over water, or flare a shot out to the right to a safe landing zone. The straight-at-the-green option requires a tee shot carrying 255 yards over water. Those who have the firepower to carry the straight-on opportunity, can get a generous kick forward, propelling your tee shot up near or even on the putting surface. If you are more conservative or protecting a lead, you can always take most of the water out of play, sending a mid- or long iron out to the landing area on the right, which will yield a mid- or short iron into the green. It’s a whimsical hole, and one where you can see some shots change hands pretty quickly depending on execution.
Next, let’s visit the White Nine, which can yield some birdie opportunities before you head for the “Grand Bermuda Triangle,” which can be a real test for even the most proficient ball-striker.
A par 5 opens the nine, playing at just 480 yards. This slight dogleg right offers a chance to get to the green in two with a solid tee shot. The first green slopes severely from back-to-front, so anything that comes up short of a back pin will be a tough two-putt. No. 2 and No. 3 are both gettable holes with an accurate tee shot, but as with many holes on this property, tree-lined fairways can mean a necessary chip out back to the fairway with a miss left or right.
No. 4 on the White is another short par 4, offering players a chance to hit driver to get somewhere close to the green, but a long iron or hybrid is also a reasonable play, which can leave a short iron in-hand. Beware of the right miss on the approach shot, as balls will careen to the right and leave a messy third.
After four holes that are relatively straightforward, you will reach the aforementioned “Grand Bermuda Triangle.” This trio of holes will not only get your blood pumping but can be a spot where you can make up or give away strokes to your competitors in no time.
No. 5, a par 3 that requires an iron shot which covers water, gives players their first look at nearby Mountain Creek Lake. Playing 195 from the tips, with a south wind that can be hurting and off the right, this hole can play, at times, every bit of 210, making it a tough opening stanza to the triangle.
For those who play a cut shot, No. 6 can certainly fit your eye. However, if that cut sometimes turns into a slice, you may want to have an extra ball handy on this tee box. Water all down the right from tee to green makes this one of the more challenging par 4s in DFW municipal golf. Those who lay back off the tee will face an awkward approach to a green that slopes left to right toward the water. No. 6 is a true test for any skill level from tee to green.
The final leg of the triangle is the par-4 seventh. Although this hole plays downhill, it will usually play into a prevailing wind, making this narrow hole play longer than the 365 yards the scorecard indicates. Keeping it in the fairway is paramount, as water flanks the fairway both right and left in the landing area. Laying back with a three metal or hybrid might be the smart play, but leaves a longer approach to a deep green with water left. A par is a great score here, and should you be able to navigate the triangle in 11 shots or less, you are likely picking up shots on the field.
If you thought you were done with water after the triangle, you would be incorrect. No. 8 is another par 3 that is a forced carry over a small lake that will again test your game. Although, unlike the former par 3 in the triangle, there is plenty of bailout area left of the green. If you miss, this is the place to do it.
After a final par 4 back toward the clubhouse, the White Nine is complete, and as you can see, it has as much personality as any nine holes in the area.
We move on to the Blue Nine as we complete our tour of Prairie Lakes’ 27 holes. If you are a Ticket or TeeBox listener, then you have likely heard of the April Fool’s Open, which has been contested on a trio of Blue Nine holes for the last several years.
No. 3 on the Blue is a hole that I have always enjoyed as someone who plays a cut shot. You can take as much club as you choose off the tee and try to cut some of the corner off the dogleg. But be aware of the water through the fairway and on the left, because if you aren’t successful hitting a cut, you can quickly find yourself through the fairway and in the drink. Miss too far right, and you can end up stymied in the trees and forced to punch out. It’s a solid little par 4 that makes you think tee to green.
The first par 3 on the Blue Nine comes at No. 4 and plays at 190 from the back tees. As many of the holes near Mountain Creek Lake, this one is a carry over water. Fire an iron to the fat part of the green and hope to make a long putt and get away with a three here. Anything short or left can mean a big number.
After that par 3 come the three holes notorious for hosting the April Fool’s Open. A long par 5 opens this stretch, with a tight window off the tee, leaving a layup shot followed by a short iron or wedge over a pond. Longer hitters who can fire a low draw off the tee could potentially have a shot at the green in two, but the slightly elevated green can be hard to hold, leaving a chip shot from some rolling mounds behind the green. In my opinion, finding a good wedge number for your third shot is the ticket here, giving players the best chance for a par or better.
No. 6 on the Blue is an uphill, almost blind par 3. Although the hole only plays 160 from the back, club selection can be tough, as you can only see a portion of the flagstick. And with the uphill and varying wind conditions, it can be tough to find the right portion of this undulating green.
The short par-4 seventh again makes players use their thinking caps. Playing back downhill to the green and reading 295 on the card from the back tees, bombers can try to blast one over the small pond in front of the green and hit the putting surface off the tee. But an iron for position to the right center of the fairway might be a more reasonable play, leaving a wedge and taking the trouble out of play. There is a small strip of earth out to the left that can offer some refuge should you choose driver, but it’s thin and tough to find.
After the par-5 eighth, the final hole of the Blue is a long par 4 with a narrow fairway and an uphill final iron shot. A driver will leave a mid-iron to an elevated green and one last opportunity for a par or better. It’s a fun and challenging finishing hole to this 27-hole layout.
In the last several months, Prairie Lakes has seen some improvements, with the removal of around 70 trees to not only open up some of the vistas and make the course more playable for those who hit wayward shots, but also eliminate some of the shady areas that were hampering turf growth, which should make some areas more playable in the future.
The clubhouse at Prairie Lakes is standard municipal, with some gear and whatever you may need to stock up on before you play, whether it be nuggets, tees or some new kicks. There is a large driving range to warm up or hit some balls during your lunch hour or after work, and a massive putting green that will refine your putting stroke and allow you to roll a few before you tee off.
In the past, we have made it a point to mention Eddlemon’s BBQ in the clubhouse … but in the last year, the Eddlemon family decided to hang up their aprons, leaving a void that will be hard to fill, as for years, Eddlemon’s cue was a staple of your visit to Prairie Lakes. However, a new barbecue venture is opening to replace Eddlemon’s. Crown’s BBQ will take over service, and we can’t wait to see what they have to offer. We were thrilled to see that the tradition of playing golf and knocking out some great food will continue at the Lakes.
At the end of the day, Prairie Lakes is a fabulous municipal course that not only checks all the boxes for a fun day on the course, but also has the versatility of three separate nines, which can add some variety from visit to visit. That, and the almost unbeatable rates make Prairie Lakes a must-play for not only those on a budget, but also those who want a challenge and enjoy rock-solid course conditions every time out. Oh, and don’t forget to try the new ‘cue!