Golf Course Architecture - Issue 73, July 2023

34 MARK WAGNER Along with Dancing Rabbit and Circling Raven, Firekeeper may be in the hunt for best name for an eighteen-hole golf course. Everything good about Kansas is found here, and the club is planning on adding a short course designed by Christine Fraser. The current layout was designed by Jeff Brauer, former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (now its director of outreach), and Notah Begay III, a Native American who played on the PGA Tour and is now an analyst with Golf Channel and NBC. Firekeeper sits an hour west of Kansas City, 20 minutes north of Topeka, and a day’s drive from the geographical centre of America. Brauer considers Firekeeper his best work, noting the course traverses three distinct environments while creating minimal disturbance to the existing land. The course, which opened in 2012, is an endeavour of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, and the tribe was very interested in preserving the character of the land, which Brauer feels he and Begay managed. “Their main goal was to build a course that stands with the best in Kansas,” says Brauer. “It seems most people think we achieved that, making it a very successful project for my firm.” Michael Powell, a PGA professional who has been at Firekeeper since it opened, suggests the course has generated a clientele that has changed the perceptions of the area and its tribal cultures. “Gaming has been a source of financial income to take care of each tribe’s people,” he says. Powell, who is a member of Osage Nation, notes Firekeeper sits on land toward the end of the Trail of Tears. “A lot of tribes got shoved off into the middle of nowhere,” he says. “Well, nowhere is now this beautiful golf course. A lot of nations have taken advantage of building topInclusivity and sustainability are valued highly by the Native American tribe that owns Firekeeper Golf Course, which will soon have a short layout designed by Christine Fraser. Everything good about Kansas INSIGHT “ The course traverses three distinct environments while creating minimal disturbance to the existing land”