Practice rounds are done and today marks the opening round of the 27th U.S. Senior Open in Hutchinson.
Tuesday, Independence Day, was a busy day. Holiday goers made for a great crowd and the course is beginning to show the signs of high traffic in the rough at the crossings.
To the delight of what seems like everyone, the course is holding up just fine. Golf Course Superintendent P. Stan George, CGCS, reported that the players, USGA officials and spectators were all thrilled with the course.
The following are four tips for those planning to attend the Senior Open and insights on five of the holes to watch.
The first tip is to remember sun screen and insect repellant. There is plenty of sun in the forecast and the mosquitoes heard there will be a crowd.
Next, wear comfortable walking shoes. Prairie Dunes is a beautiful golf course and should be enjoyed in its entirety.
Tip number three, be prepared to pick up some souvenirs. There is something for everyone on your list.
Finally, compliment a Golf Course Management Turf Team member wearing a maroon Prairie Dunes 2006 U.S. Senior Open golf shirt. This golf course is playing at premium conditions as a result of two years of hard work in preparation for this event.
There are some fantastic holes that are worth noting for those attending the event live and for those that will be watching. On the front nine, keep an eye on Hole 4. This short par three can either be an easy birdie or a tough par depending upon the pin placement. Hole 8 is world famous. It shares a tee box with Hole 1 and is acclaimed by Sports Illustrated as one of the "Best 18 Holes in America." Golf Digest lists it as one of the "Best 100 Holes in America," and Golf Magazine claims it is one of the "Top 500 Holes in the World."
One the back nine, Hole 10 is described by Prairie Dunes' architect Perry Maxwell as "The best par three in America," and Golf Digest also lists it as one of their "Best 100 Holes in America." The 10th tee box is right next to the clubhouse.
Hole 17 is a fairly short par five at 500 yards, but even though most players could reach the green in two, few will try. The fairway is about as wide as an ironing board, and the green is hard to hit with a long second shot. Watch for most of the players to lay up.
Hole 18 is a great finishing hole. Anything but a straight drive is trouble. Even then, the fairway is bumpy and slopes sharply to the left. There is trouble all around the green including a high-walled bunker on the left. A ball hit deep into that bunker will likely need to be played back to the fairway. Once on the green, large undulations will reek havoc with putting.
Let the Open begin!