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Prairie View Golf Links offers enjoyable links experience

WORTHINGTON -- Prairie View Golf Links definitely lives up to its name. As a link's style course, what makes Prairie View fun and challenging is what isn't there. You won't find a single tree or house lining this course. Instead, what you will battle is the gusting wind and the lengthy prairie grasses that seem omnipresent in Southwest Minnesota.

Prairie View was first opened in 1983, and was designed by Worthington native and eight year PGA player Joel Goldstrand. It is a public course that welcomes people of all ages and abilities.

This is the first installment of a review of area golf courses.

On this particular day, sun and wind graced the round, which created some interesting shots in the wide open area.

Par 5, 503/491/439 yds

Hole 1: The first hole is a very tough hole to start with. As a par five, it's nearly impossible to see the flag from the tee, so your first shot of the round is a blind one. The green is very fast, and slopes from back to front. The creek runs on the right, and hills from hole eight protect the left side. It's always tough to start with a par five, but even with a less than impressive drive, a par is not impossible on this hole.

Par 3, 166/141/126 yds

Hole 2: This is a short hole with an elevated green. Depending on which way the wind blows, the hole can be very tricky. There is a little trouble short, but it shouldn't really come into play. This hole is a good chance to make up a stroke early in the round.

Par 4, 377/361/294 yds

Hole 3: This is a very straight forward hole, that is, until you reach the green. The green has two-tiers, creating many different angles and difficult putts. The key to this hole is to recognize flag position and make your club selection correctly.

Par 4, 348/322/261 yds

Hole 4: This is a very interesting hole. Right away, you have to make a decision. With the creek running right down the middle, you have to go either right or left off the tee. If you go right, you'll eventually have to cross the creek, but not until close to the green. The left is more wide open and makes for an easier shot to the green, but watch out for the prairie grass on the far left.

Par 3, 165/134/90 yds

Hole 5: The fifth hole is a straight away par three. It is the shortest hole on the course, but notice the color of the flag. Two small bumps in the green create two defined parts. If you're going to miss on this hole, make sure you miss on the same side as the flag.

Par 4, 326/307/259 yds

Hole 6: This par four is a blind shot off the tee. However, with a good drive over the hill, it's just a short chip to the green. There is a small ravine in front of the green, which you are shooting down on. Don't be deceived by the green, seems to not break as much as it appears.

Par 4, 375/358/338

Hole 7: With an elevated green over this par four, don't hook on this hole. With the creek and long grass on the left side, being middle-to-right is the key. The green is shared with the second hole, so don't loose the ball in the massive green.

Par 5, 530/511/475 yds

Hole 8: The eighth hole provides one of the best views at Prairie View. An elevated tee into a long par five, this hole seems to play long. Once you are up by the green, this hole becomes even more difficult. The front is protected by bunkers, and the back is a steep slope of prairie grass. Before you reach the green, small but steep hills line the left side of the fairway. Once you are finally on the green, leave yourself an uphill putt, or the back-to-front slope will make putts difficult.

Par 3, 215/196/164 yds

Hole 9: The ninth is an almost unfairly long par three. If the wind is against you on this hole, par is an excellent score. The green is not too difficult, with a slight back-to-front slope. The key on this hole is to try and be close to the green on your first shot.

Par 5, 515/495/437 yds

Hole 10: This hole is a tough hole to make the turn. It is a big dog leg left around a pool of water, so being on the right side is the best play on this hole. It is a tough hole, and you probably won't make up too many strokes on this hole, especially with a green which has a lower level in the back right. Unless the flag is back right, being short on this hole is not a bad idea.

Par 4, 425/405/347 yds

Hole 11: After the 10th, the 11th provides some relief. The tee shot is blind, but a safe shot down the middle is the best bet. Once you're over the hill, the green is protected in the front by a creek. The green is not tough, which allows a chance to recover once the turn is made.

Par 4, 358/327/283 yds

Hole 12: The 12th is a straight away par four. The creek that runs through the course is just over the tee off, but shouldn't really come into play. You'll want to stay left on this hole, especially since the green is protected by water on the right side.

Par 3, 181/158/141 yds

Hole 13: The distance from the different sets of tees is hefty on this hole. However, regardless of where you tee off, don't miss long on this hole. The green slopes from back to front, and the back of the green is a big drop off. The right side is protected by prairie grass and water, but with the right club selection and a straight shot, this hole could be an easy par.

Par 4, 410/384/320 yds

Hole 14: From the tee, you can see the elevated green and the flag. A field and prairie grass line the left side, with the right side open. The 14th isn't exceptionally long, but the toughest part of this hole is the green. The back left is a raised plateau, and if you are forced to putt from one tier to the other, this green turns a birdie into a bogey real quick. The secret to this is to make sure you pay attention the flag color, and select clubs accordingly.

Par 5, 518/500/421 yds

Hole 15: The 500-yard par five 15th should be the signature hole on this course. With a slight dog-leg right, the challenge of this hole is the water which surrounds three sides of the green. Except for the long hitters, the green is virtually impossible to hit in two. Even with a great drive, this hole forces you to make a decision -- lay up short of the water or try to hit the green. The safest play is down the left side which avoids the water. The green has a hill on the left, and a slight dip in the middle which creates some interesting putts, but getting to the green with a dry ball is the challenge in this hole.

Par 3, 173/151/132 yds

Hole 16: The 16th is a shortish par three. It's not the shortest hole on the course, but it's not the longest par three. However, after a potentially brutal 15th, it's nice to see a shorter hole. The three different sets of tees offer three unique angles into the green on this hole, and if you go far enough left on the tee, the water could potentially come into play. The green is characterized by a small hill on the backside, but for the most part, the green is not challenging.

Par 4, 372/347/276 yds

Hole 17: The 17th is a pretty wide open hole, giving the golfer a break from worrying about a water hazard. The right is the place to miss if you're going to miss on this hole. A gravel road lines the left, but with a decent tee shot, it shouldn't be an issue. A bunker protects the left side of the green, so coming in from the right side is not a bad play on this par four.

Par 4, 420/401/302 yds

Hole 18: The 18th is a great finishing hole at Prairie View. It is a long par four, and can be tricky if not played correctly. The pond curves around the front of the green, but leaves an area on the left. The water makes the player make a decision on the second shot. Left is a safe place to enter the green from, but if you're going to go for this green in two, make sure you pull enough club to get over the water. There isn't much room short, so going long on this hole isn't the end of the world.

Final impressions: The back nine creates more of a challenge than the front, but each side is unique. The only down side to the course is that it was often tough to determine distances, especially in the rough. The course seems pretty forgiving from the tees, as it can be easy to recover. However, to score well, the key is placement around the greens, and reading these very tricky and fast greens.