Golf News

Experience the Hidden Gem of the Arkansas Golf Trail


Written by Alice & Danny Scott

Who knew, Arkansas has a golf course? In March, as the flip goes from winter to spring and everything is buzzing about the Eclipse, we played two on the track and one that warrants listing. “The Natural State” mixes beautiful landscapes with history and more, which America deserves to rediscover.

Little Rock

Little Rock is a great city to fly into and explore a bit before heading out. Stay at the Little Rock Marriott for a spectacular view of the waters of the Arkansas River. Downtown attractions include the Clinton Library with interesting historical photos and artifacts, regardless of political discourse. Since Arkansas invented the cheese dip, believe it or not, try the world’s award-winning, 24 plus ingredient, creamy treat at Dizzy Gypsy.

Golf at Mystic Creek in El Dorado

Two hours south of Little Rock and just over the Louisiana border, the town of El Dorado (Spanish for The Golden), emerged in the 1920s during the black gold rush. A century later, impressive statues on one main corner commemorate the men and machines that built the thriving city.

The Haywood boutique hotel is a place to stay and play Mystic Creek Golf Course, the first course on the route and one of Troon’s pride and joy portfolio. This true championship course is home to the Epson Tour event and GM, Cody Lack says it’s one of the gals’ favorites to play. A sunny blue sky accentuates the tall pines and hardwoods – a playground for the squirrel and a maze for the golfer. A meandering stream crosses Swilcanesque bridges along the course. The depth of beauty is derived from natural curves while the difficulty comes from changing bunker placements and crazy greens designed by Kenneth Dye Jr.. Some elevated greens with false sides and sides make the tee to seven easy.

The three-year-old new clubhouse, constructed of local pine, serves as an 18th hole playground on the lower level or on the upper patio. Mystic Grill delivers quality service with a great outdoor view. The salmon cakes are a must try and so is the course.

Golf at DeGray Lake Resort

DeGray Lake Resort State Park is a perfect getaway, one hour from Little Rock. The Lodge is set on a lake with a front lawn for romantic weddings or family reunions like The Duck Dynasty’s.

Leon Howard designed the golf course using the rolling hills of the Ouachita Mountains. The front nine fairways are wide with a few unseen houses and various waterfowl. Dogwood trees glisten with white blossoms among the evergreens on the back nine. It is a jungle tour where Safaris are led for park visitors to look for nocturnal animals in a golf cart.

The course is well maintained with assistance from inmates of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Dressed in white jumpsuits, looking like golfers, they show up at work carrying equipment, guarded by fully armed sheriffs on horseback. They love work and do great work.

Golf, boat, relax or explore nature. Boredom never sets in at

Hot Springs Village

The largest community in North America has eleven and nine golf courses at the Isabella Golf Complex, designated on the Arkansas Golf Trail. Also, eight other courses are beautifully designed and maintained for a life of storybook golf for residents and visitors, 45 minutes from Little Rock.

Granada was designed in ’04 with panoramic views. Cortez is known for its wildlife, with occasional bear sightings; but deer and possums are very common in all the courses including Ponce de Leon_,_ opened by John Daly. Balboa, Coronado, DeSoto, and Magellan complete public courses while Diamante Country Club is a private course in a gated community within a large gated community for double security.

Near the city and the Hot Springs National Park, the hot springs have drawn visitors for over a century. The Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and Museum is an extensive exhibit of original bathhouse works. The Gangster Museum presents an interesting history, showing the New York connections of Al Capone and others who chose Hot Springs as their base of operations, their gangster’s paradise.

Oaklawn Racing and Gaming started here in 1905 and with a $100m renovation, today you can bet for fun, bet on small horses or canter through the main casino and dine at The Bugler, a culinary winner.

A 3-day stay at Hot Springs Village starts at $299 and includes lodging, meals for two, community tours, access to amenities and golf. Book this getaway and you could find your new home at

To find out more about all 14 courses on the Arkansas Golf Trail, visit here.


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