Golfing Bleg for Access to Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, KS.--

I am going to be at a conference at the U. of Kansas Law School in eastern Kansas on Oct. 20-21. I have long been curious about Prairie Dunes, the classic links golf course in Hutchinson, KS. I am a big fan of links courses, my favorite being Scotland's Turnberry, though Dornoch, St. Andrews, Lahinch, and Waterville are also great. The best US courses that I've played include Olympic, Yale, Brookline, and Bethpage.

Are there any VC readers who are members of Prairie Dunes (or close friends of members) who would be willing to host me for a round of golf on Sunday, Oct. 22--or arrange for me to play. I would, of course, expect to pay the guest fee (at the very least).

Only relevant comments please.

Pixxelshim (mail) (www):
If ever in the Detroit area, a must-play is the Old Course at <A rel="nofollow" href="" target=_"blank">Indianwood</A>.
9.17.2006 9:58am
James Lindgren (mail):
Thanks. I've played the older Pete Dye course at U. Michigan in Ann Arbor, and it was excellent.
9.17.2006 12:38pm
Justin (mail):

The University of Michigan's "older" (and official) course is an Alistair MacKenzie classic - and by far the best course in Ann Arbor.
9.17.2006 6:18pm
Juan Non Golfer:
Can't help, but Hutchinson's a solid 200 miles from Lawrence. I realize it's a lot closer than your home base is to Hutchinson, but still involves at least an hour of car time per hour of golf.
9.18.2006 9:52am
If you are interested in golfing in Hutch, you could contact Stephen Martino at the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission who could put you in touch with the members of the Greenwood County Fair Association, several of whom have memberships and are lawyers. You might want to ask around KU Law as well, some of the professors like McAlister or Prater may have friends out west who are or know someone who is a member.
9.18.2006 12:49pm
gab (mail):
"Links" have to be near water - and by water, I mean the ocean. If you're golfing in Kansas, it ain't on a links.

Here's the definition: "A links golf course, sometimes referred to as a seaside links is the oldest style of golf course, first developed in Scotland, where golf originated. The word comes from the Scots language and refers to an area of coastal sand dunes. It also retains this more general meaning in the Scottish English dialect. It can be treated as singular even though it has an 's' at the end, and occurs in place names that precede the development of golf, for example Lundin Links, Fife.

Links are located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, often amid dunes, with few water hazards and few if any trees. This reflects both the nature of the scenery where the sport happened to originate, and the fact that only limited resources were available to golf course architects at the time, and any earth moving had to be done by hand, so it was kept to a minimum. It is believed that the term "links" comes from the fact that the land used for golf originally was the land near the sea that was not good for farming. This land was between the sea and the farmland and thus was a "link" between the two."

This is a common mistake made by many who are new to the game.
9.18.2006 1:55pm
James Lindgren (mail):

gab wrote:

"Links" have to be near water -- and by water, I mean the ocean. If you're golfing in Kansas, it ain't on a links. . . .

This is a common mistake made by many who are new to the game.


I am not new to the game. I've played since the age of 4 (so I have no excuse for my mediocre game), and I come from a golfing family (my father was captain of golf teams that won the Big Ten college championship and the IL state HS championship). I played freshman and JV golf my first two years at Yale, though I probably sat down slightly more than I started for those teams.

As with the meaning of any word, it evolves over time, so there are purists (such as yourself) who resist this evolution and there are those (such as myself) who usually accept the use the word as it is used by knowledgeable people.

First, contrary to your claim, almost every American golfer would call some courses "links" that are not near oceans, such as Whistling Straits on Lake Michigan.

Second, I described Prairie Dunes in passing as a links course. In retrospect, I realize that what I wrote was misleading, because I meant that the course was a classic course in quality and that the course was of the links type, not that it was the epitome or truest example of a links. (In other words, I was saying that the links course was good enough to be a classic, not that the course was in classic links style.) If your disagreement was over my ambiguous use of the word "classic," then I would tend to agree with you. To be a "classic" example of a links course, it should probably be near water.

But if you meant that I shouldn't refer to an inland course as a links course, then I would disagree. Probably some knowledgeable Americans would think that Prairie Dunes shouldn't be described even in passing as a links course, but probably many knowledgeable Americans would find a description of Prairie Dunes as a links course entirely within the modern usage of the term. I think most people in the US use "links" to describe a STYLE of course routed over natural dunes land with trees (if present) usually playing at most a minor role as hazards, much as you describe the actual land in your comment.

Given your objections, if I had to do it over again, I would have described Prairie Dunes as a "classic course designed mostly in links style." By logic, you might still object to that usage when no ocean was nearby, since you seem to view the nearby ocean, not the characteristics of the land and course, as essential to the definition of a course as a "links." For the usage "links style," I would be in good company. Here is the USGA's description of Prairie Dunes from their website for the 2006 USGA Senior Open:

Prairie Dunes is an American original and one of the most scenic courses anywhere. You could never mistake pictures of it for any other American course, although it is easily confused with some of the best of the British Isles. Hutchinson, KS., the center of the United States, is the last place anyone would expect to find a links style course with rolling hills reminiscent of the seaside courses in Scotland.
9.18.2006 3:25pm
James Lindgren (mail):


I've played Dye's Radrick Farms, but not the older MacKenzie course, which is why I was ignorant about when it was built. I just read about it online. Sounds like a great course.
9.18.2006 3:38pm
gab (mail):
JL - my apologies for assuming you were new to the game. I naturally assumed that because you had used the term "links" incorrectly, you must not know much about golf. And yes, language evolves, thus terms like "irregardless" or " I could care less" become commonly accepted. And it even spreads to august bodies like the USGA. But just because everyone gets it wrong, doesn't mean it's correct. Links is links...
9.18.2006 3:58pm
James Lindgren (mail):

OK, fair enough.

"Literally," "I could care less."

"Irregardless" of how common former misusages become, we all have limits on what we will accept as extensions of earlier usages. On this one, you might draw the line in a different place than I would, but we might agree on whether to reject some other new usages.
9.18.2006 4:24pm
Steven Brockerman (mail) (www):
"While excessive DDT use in the United States was linked to reproductive problems in several bird species ... "

That is untrue.

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring: Environmentalist Mythology Killing Us Softly
by Steven Brockerman (August 11, 2002)

Theirs is the disease you don't hear about on the nightly news. Newspaper editorialists, too, are silent about the death toll from this ailment -- nearly 9 ½ million people since 1999, of which 8½ million were pregnant women or children under the age of five. No, the disease isn't AIDS. It's mosquito borne malaria, and we've had the means for wiping out this affliction for over a century. However, thanks to environmentalist mythology, the tool, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), has been banned in most countries worldwide.

The ban on DDT, like the modern environmentalist movement itself, grew out of the book, Silent Spring, by Rachael Carson. As almost any school child today can parrot, Carson claimed DDT thinned the eggs of birds. Pointing to a 1956 study by Dr. James DeWitt published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Carson wrote: "Dr. DeWitt's now classic experiments [demonstrate] that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction."

DeWitt, however, concluded no such thing. Indeed, he discovered in his study that 50% more eggs hatched from DDT fed quail than from those in the control group.

Following Carson's lead, hippie environmentalists began claiming that raptor populations -- eagles, osprey, hawks, etc. -- were declining due to DDT. They failed to note that such populations had been declining precipitously for years prior to the use of DDT. Indeed, according to the yearly Audubon Christmas Bird Counts, 1941 to 1960, years that saw the greatest, most widespread use of DDT, the count of eagles actually increased from 197 in 1941 to 897 in 1960. A forty-year count over roughly the same period by the Hawks Mountain Sanctuary Association also found population increases for Ospreys and most kinds of hawks.

Finally, after years of study, researchers at Cornell University "found no tremors, no mortality, no thinning of eggshells and no interference with reproduction caused by levels of DDT which were as high as those reported to be present in most of the wild birds where ‘catastrophic' decreases in shell quality and reproduction have been claimed" ("Effects of PCBs, DDT, and mercury compounds upon egg production, hatchability and shell quality in chickens and Japanese quail").

Carson, her book's affected prose designed to create optimum public panic, heralded, too, a coming cancer epidemic among humans. Her assertion was based on the high incidences of liver cancer found in adult rainbow trout in 1961 -- a result, not of DDT, but of a fungi produced carcinogen, aflatoxin.

Once again, environmentalists followed Carson's lead. A 1969 study ("Multigeneration studies on DDT in mice.") concluded that mice fed DDT developed a higher incidence of leukemia and liver tumors than unexposed mice. Epidemiology data of the preceding 25 years, though, showed no increases in liver cancer among the human populations in the areas where DDT had been sprayed. Upon further examination of the data, moreover, researchers discovered high incidences of tumors in the control group, too. Apparently, both groups had been feed food that was moldy, contaminated by aflatoxin.

Since then, in 1978, after a two-year study, the National Cancer Institute has concluded that, indeed, DDT is not carcinogenic. Even more recently, a study ("Plasma organochlorines levels and the risk of breast cancer") published in the New England Journal of Medicine in October 1997 found nothing to indicate that the risk of breast cancer is increased by exposure to DDT or DDE (a byproduct of DDT).

None of this evidence, though, would have swayed William Ruckelshaus, head of a brand new Environmental Protection Agency in 1971. Ruckelshaus not only refused to attend EPA's 1971-72 administrative hearings on DDT, but also refused to read even one page of the 9,000 pages of testimony. Not surprisingly, Ruckelshaus ignored the findings of the hearings' judge -- ""DDT is not a carcinogenic … a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man -- and banned DDT anyway. It's not surprising because William Ruckelshaus was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund -- later his personal stationery would have printed on it the following boast: "EDF's scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won."

Since 1971, pressured by specialized environmentalist organizations like the International Pesticide Action Network, much of the rest of the world has banned DDT, too. Those countries now rely on pesticides that are neither as effective nor as safe as DDT. Meanwhile, the death tolls from malaria in tropical Third World countries silently climbs. Heedless of this, environmentalists are now pressuring governments to preserve wetlands, i.e., swamps, which are the foremost breeding grounds of disease carrying mosquitoes. One would have to conclude, given the facts, that environmentalists are either insane or intent upon eradicating every human being from the face of the planet. At a UN sponsored earth summit in 1971, a delegate's remark gives us the answer: "What this world needs is a good plague to wipe out the human population."

If the death toll from malaria begins to mount in this country, we'll certainly hear about it on the nightly news. Malaria will be blamed, of course, but the real culprit will be environmentalist mythology, which has been killing us softly for decades.
9.19.2006 10:32am