Prairie Band and Firekeeper make a winning hand

Firekeeper-golf

JUNE 2014 – It is a combination that is hard to beat. The Prairie Band Casino & Resort offers everything you’d want for a Kansas weekend getaway.

It is 15 minutes north of Topeka on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation reservation. Prairie Band offers casino gaming, prestigious hotel accommodations, high-quality dining options, a convention and entertainment venue, and the state’s top-rated golf course, Firekeeper.

“It has continued to be ranked the number one course you can play in Kansas,” said general manager Randy Towner, head PGA professional.

Golfweek magazine has rated Firekeeper the best in Kansas every year since it opened in 2010. It was also ranked as the ninth-best new course in the country in 2011.

And it has only gotten better.

“Just like a three-year-old kid looks a lot different than a four-year old, it has matured a lot,” Towner said.  “The new areas of grass are filling in and the course is beautiful.”

Unlike most area courses which are fescue, Firekeeper has bentgrass tees, greens and fairways, with fescue only in the rough.

“I think the bentgrass makes it unique,” superintendent Rob Christie said.  “It’s holding up well in the summer.  We’ve had good water.  It’s great to see how nice it looks now with all the rain.  It’s been green early in the season and in the fall weather. It just looks so good. What impresses me is how smooth it all looks.”

Christie was a construction superintendent working with Landscapes Unlimited, LLC, out of Lincoln, at the time of the course construction. He was in charge of putting together the crews that built the course architect Jeff Brauer designed.

“The front holes were filled out from an old cornfield,” he said. “It was terraced, not just flat. There’s some movement up front. The back holes were built out of a wooded area and a pasture. On those back holes, we didn’t move a lot of dirt. We just shaped them to fit into the land.  That was kind of (Brauer’s) goal and I think he did a pretty good job.  It’s hilly, with a creek that runs through the back holes.”

Sponsor-GolfTowner and Christie both enjoy the Kansas feel that Firekeeper evokes.

“Randy and I agree,” Christie said.  “Number two is our favorite.  When you’re looking west, it’s wide open like the Kansas prairie.  You can see one farmhouse and see some cows next to number four.  It does represent Kansas in a way.”

Having a course which isn’t surrounded by a housing development helps bring out the prairie feel.

“There are no homes on the course,” he said.  “It’s all native grass and there are no trees on the front nine.  In the back where it’s wooded, it’s more of a pasture back there.  It just really does kind of remind you of being in Kansas.”

In addition to the rural ambience, the course provides plenty of challenge for golfers of all stripes.

“One of the neat things about the course is you can bite off as much as you want,” Towner said.  “It can play as short or as long as you want. You get to pick your poison.  It can be extremely difficult or easy. It offers a little something for everyone.”

The course offers challenges for experienced golfers, playing as long as 7,600 yards from the back tees, but can play easier at 4,500 yards from the forward tees.  There’s also a double fairway on No. 18, for those who like to gamble on the golf course as well as at the casino.

“Hole number 11 is a short par five which takes you back east,” Christie said.  “It’s kind of a small green and it’s challenging to go for it in two.  It is a little green perched on a hill.  If you miss it right or left you’re in the woods.  Number 13 is another pretty good hole. It can play as much as 260 yards as a par three.”

The course has been the host to several tour stops, including the Adams Tour and the National Pro Golf Tour.  Firekeeper will host the Symetra Tour again this year, September 11-13. It has hosted the Midwest PGA championship for three years running, and will play host to the Kansas amateur championship in 2018.

Firekeeper features some unique traits, such as a shared green for holes No. 1 and 6, which also makes its own geographical imprint. The bunkers to the left of No. 1 form the shape of the Firekeeper logo, while the bunkers off No. 6 are in the shape of a buffalo.

“It’s just a beautiful place to come for the weekend,” Towner said. “It’s close enough to the city that it’s easy to reach and it’s far enough to feel like you have gotten away. It’s great food, gambling and golf.  It’s a pretty good combination.”

The “Stay and Play” package offered by the resort is an especially attractive combination.  It includes two rounds of golf, a cart, range balls, and an overnight stay at the casino hotel, with weekday packages at $199, while weekends are $259.

After hitting the links, guests can enjoy the casino with more than a thousand slot games, plus 29 table games, including poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and Pai Gow.

There are 297 upscale hotel rooms surrounding a gorgeous courtyard with two hot tubs and a cascading waterfall, and three great dining options to choose from.  The Longhouse Buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while the Three Fires Steakhouse offers an extensive dining menu and the Buffalo Grill is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Another great feature of the resort is the 12,000-square-foot convention center.

“Whether you are looking for a small boardroom setting or a large meeting space, we can accommodate your needs,” said advertising coordinator Annette Wheeler.  “Not only does it provide meeting space but it can be transformed into a theatre for entertainment.  It’s a very intimate setting which will hold 1,000 seats for entertainment, and there’s not a bad seat in the house.

The resort is attracting some exceptional talent, including Big Bad VooDoo Daddy featuring special guests from Dancing with the Stars – Lacey & Tristan – on June 26, Mary Wilson of the Supremes & the Four Tops on July 3, Trace Adkins on July 17, and BJ Thomas on July 30.  Tickets are on sale by visiting www.PrairieBand.com or in the Prairie Band Gift Shop.

The resort also includes a 67-station RV park with full hookups, a nice gift shop and a convenience station.  Within the RV park, the Prairie Meadows Lodge features four bedrooms each with its own bathroom, a full kitchen and a large living room complete with fireplace and flat screen TV, which is available with a golf package that includes four rounds of golf, a cart and range balls, with midweek pricing at $799, while weekends are $999 per night.

“It’s a real destination getaway, with hotel accommodations, dining options, and a golf course,” Wheeler said.  “Everything they need is right here.”

For more information about Prairie Band Casino & Resort, visit the website – www.PrairieBand.com – or call 785 966-7777 or text “Golf” to 70366 for information and contests.

Article by Marc Bowman

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