Published Mar/Apr 2007

Arkansas, the Natural State, offers spectacular settings
for a great golf trail.
By Richelle Tremaine

It’s quickly apparent to motorists why Arkansas is called the Natural State. Blanketed by hardwood forests, rolling hills fold into one another. Streams and lakes dot the landscape like a painting.

This is an ideal setting for a golf vacation centered around the Natural State Golf Trail, 15 golf courses on 13 sites throughout six geographic regions. In addition, kind weather prevails much of the year, allowing the golf season to stretch from early March through late November.

Matching Arkansas’s fair weather is Southern hospitality. Regardless of where I traveled through the state, the people were open and friendly. That warm welcome from people I met on the courses to the folks I encountered in the restaurants and elsewhere enhanced the experience.
For golfers, the best part of the trip is found on the course. While the sites are spread throughout the state, there is a cluster of courses within an hour or two from Big Creek Golf and Country Club at Mountain Home. Many of these courses are woven together by long stretches of two-lane, scenic roads. Courses are top-notch and offer a natural setting for great golf.

According to Jim Shamburger, president of the Natural State Golf Trail, courses are selected based on play, condition of the course, friendliness of the staff and the food.

“It’s got to provide the total experience,” he said, “That’s what we’re after. We have just about anything you would want.”
Northwest Arkansas courses

Stonebridge Meadows in Fayetteville offers a relaxed pace and fits golfers of all skill levels. While I’m a beginner, my husband is much more experienced, having traveled the country to hit challenging courses. Stonebridge really does offer something for everyone’s game.

For instance, the fifth hole has the No. 1 handicap and is a 410-yard par 4. Ultimately, this hole is humbling.

“It’s all you want and then some,” said Mark Brouwer, general manager of Stonebridge Meadows.

The other course in northwest Arkansas is Eagle Crest Golf Course in Alma. Designed by Tournament Players Champ Mark Hayes, Eagle Crest boasts beautiful views and deep ravines. There even is a tee shot over a double waterfall on the fourth hole.

Central Arkansas courses

Big Creek Golf and Country Club in Mountain Home is one of 17 courses in the nation to receive a five-star rating from Golf Digest. Big Creek sprawls over 200 acres and features four lakes.

The Course at Eagle Mountain in Batesville is a challenging course situated next to the White River. It features bent grass greens, zoysia fairways and five sets of tees.

Greystone Country Club in Cabot features two courses: Mountain Springs and Cypress Creek. Both offer demanding layouts and tree-lined fairways.

Harbor Oaks Golf Club in Pine Bluff is set on the shores of the Arkansas River and offers water features on seven holes. Harbor Oaks is included as one of the state’s top 10 public courses.

Mountain Ranch Golf Club, Fairfield Bay, is a links course that Golf Digest rates as the state’s No. 1 resort course.

Red Apple Inn and Country Club, Heber Springs, is touted as one of the country’s 50 most scenic courses by Golf Digest. This championship course is situated on a peninsula surrounded by Greers Ferry Lake in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

Tannenbaum Golf Club in Drasco also is a peninsula surrounded by the waters of Greers Ferry Lake. Elevations from tee to green vary dramatically; some have drops of 130 feet.

Southwest Arkansas

Glenwood Country Club in Glenwood is noted for its graceful setting. It is one of the top 10 courses in the state. This course earned 4 1⁄2 stars from Golf Digest and offers par 72 play, four sets of tees and two lakes.
Hot Springs Country Club in Hot Springs features two championship courses: the Arlington and the Majestic. These classic courses are designed around natural hot springs and lakes.

Northeast Arkansas

Sage Meadows in Jonesboro is a Tommy Bolt signature links-style course that offers zoysia fairways, bent grass greens and Bermuda roughs. Water features make play on nine of the 18 holes more challenging.

Thunder Bayou Golf Links, Blytheville, is touted as one of the 100 best new courses in the country. This classic links course has water on seven holes to add to the challenge.

Along the way

Golfers in Arkansas should soak up the drive through the scenic countryside. Lang Zimmerman, managing partner of Big Creek Golf and Country Club, suggests travelers take time to enjoy the views and the towns along the way. Many scenic two-lane roads wind through some small town gems.

“There is a slower, quieter pace of life here,” Zimmerman said. “Visitors will enjoy the unique flavor of the communities here because there are still a lot of family-owned businesses and restaurants.”

Golfers visiting the northern part of the state may want to head to historic Eureka Springs. Founded more than 125 years ago, it boasts one of the most abundant assortments of Victorian architecture in the region. The colorful place is also known as an arts community with dozens of artists and galleries.

The Great Passion Play, located three miles east of U.S. Highway 62, also runs here from late April through late October. A cast of 250 performs the greatest story in a 4,100-seat outdoor amphitheater.

Pea Ridge National Military Park, off U.S. Highway 62, is a large Civil War battle site that encompasses 4,300 acres.

If you’re ready to put away the clubs for a bit, trade the greens for the blue waters. Lakes and streams are abundant throughout the state.

Lakes, mountains, valleys, forests: they all have helped Arkansas earn the title of Natural State. It was only natural that the incredible landscapes would give birth to such remarkable golf courses.

Richelle Tremaine is a new contributor from Olathe, Kan.

In Title: Sage Meadows in Jonesboro has water on nine of its 18 holes and 37 sand bunkers. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo

Above: Big Creek Golf Club in Mountain Home has four lakes, a meandering creek and zoysia fairways. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo

Before You Go
For more details about the Natural State Golf Trail, call 1-866-2-GOLF-AR or check out www.NaturalStateGolfTrail.com. For more information about traveling in Arkansas, call 1-800-NATURAL or visit www.Arkansas.com.

Stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks and TourBook guides. View a list of offices.

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