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The Natural State Golf Trail

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When you think of all the natural beauty Arkansas has to offer through outdoor recreation, golf may not come to mind at first, but it should. Arkansas is home to many golf courses, both public and private, for golfers to choose from. Golf has a long history in the state. The Arkansas State Golf Association was established in 1915 with seven country clubs as founding members. That number has grown to 126 clubs and over 11,000 individual members. In the early 2000s, then-Senator Mike Beebe became interested in establishing an Arkansas golf trail to draw even more interest and tourism to the Natural State. The Arkansas Natural State Golf Trail was established on July 13, 2004.

The Arkansas Golf Trail features 14 of the best golf courses Arkansas has to offer in 13 different locations. If you commit to playing each course, you’ll have the opportunity to view the beauty Arkansas has to offer from across the state, from the Ozarks to the Ouachitas, to the River Delta region. Each course offers a unique experience and is worth a visit.

Bella Vista Golf CourseBella Vista, in the top corner of Northwest Arkansas, has long been known as a golfing community. The Bella Vista Golf Course and Country Club is an 18-hole course with long fairways, Little Sugar Creek running through the area and lots of shade. The area also includes five other golf courses.

Big Creek has great golf and views.

Big Creek Golf and Country Club – Tucked into the twin lakes region in Mountain Home, Big Creek offers a five-star ranking from “Golf Digest” and earned the #1 ranking for public courses in Arkansas for several years. It has beautiful, Zoysia grass fairways, which create a dense carpet of grass, and rolling terrain featuring four lakes and Big Creek. Mountain Home also boasts great fishing and all manner of outdoor recreation.

Eagle Crest Golf Course – Eagle Crest is located in the 450 master-planned community of Eagle Crest in Alma. It originally opened in 1997 but changed ownership in 2020 and recently reopened with improved greens and ongoing renovations to the clubhouse. It is still one of the best public courses in Arkansas, with tree-lined fairways combined with breath-taking views of the Ozark and Ouachita mountains.

Eagle Mountain – The Course at Eagle Mountain is in Batesville. The semi-private facility is located near the White River Bend and golfers can enjoy a wooded course along with rolling hills. Eagle Mountain also has a restaurant, golf shop and a pool.

Hole 16 at Glenwood Golf Club

Glenwood – Glenwood Golf Club in Glenwood, Arkansas, is rated a 4.5-star Golf Digest “place to play.” The club recently installed Bermuda grass on the greens and is a secluded, beautiful course. It features a golf school and pro to get you to your best form. The course also has lodging on-site, a rare feature that allows players to stay right off the greens at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains.

Harbor Oaks – Harbor Oaks Golf Course in Pine Bluff is one of the top 10 public golf courses in Arkansas. It features a 72-par course with challenging water features on 7 of its holes. The course also has a restaurant and lounge. Pine Bluff is home to the Delta Rivers Nature Center, the Arkansas Railroad Museum and many other fascinating places.

Catch a round at Harbor Oaks in Pine Bluff.

Hot Springs – The Hot Springs Country Club has a long history in the state. Founded in 1898, the club was one of the original clubs in the Arkansas State Golf Association. The club has two 18-hole courses and is a full-service club with a restaurant, pro shop, tennis courts, a pool and a playground.

Hot Springs Village – Hot Springs Village has the second Arkansas Golf Trail course in the area. The village is a planned community created for retirees and features nine different courses, one of which was ranked the #1 course in Arkansas several years in a row. Isabella Golf Club has 27 holes in three 9-hole rotations. Hot Springs Village and its golf courses are a must for anyone experiencing the Arkansas Golf Trail.

Hot Springs Village offers an array of options.

Mountain Ranch – One of two featured courses in Fairfield Bay, Mountain Ranch is highly ranked as the #1 resort golf course in Arkansas and GolfLink’s #4 most valued course in the U.S. It is a challenging course near Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River.

Red Apple Inn – This golf course is combined with the Red Apple Inn, which has boutique rooms, suites and condos all close to the picturesque golf course. Revived in 1995 from disrepair, the Red Apple course has hilltop views of Heber Springs and Greers Ferry Lake. Owners Dick and Patti Upton have created a unique golfing experience with a lake resort feel.

Red Apple Inn’s Hole #2 offers a stunning view.

Sage Meadows – Sage Meadows Country Club in Jonesboro offers a little of everything, from golf to swimming to tennis. The semi-private course has unique water features like a waterfall and tight water hazards. It is home to Arkansas State University’s Men’s and Women’s Golf Teams.

Stonebridge Meadows – Stonebridge Meadows in Fayetteville has a long history as first the location of a Civil War hospital. Then its gently rolling hills were home to thoroughbreds at a racing farm. Now the course offers a variety of holes with its elevation changes and a view of Fayetteville. Stonebridge has often been called one of the best public courses in the state.

Tannenbaum – Tannenbaum is in Drasco, Arkansas, quite close to Mountain Ranch. The two courses share a website, facilities and even course membership. Tannenbaum is located on a peninsula surrounded by Greers Ferry Lake. It has surprising elevation changes and a challenging layout within a picturesque setting.

Watch out for the water hazards at Thunder Bayou.

Thunder Bayou – Thunder Bayou is set among the upper Delta region in Blytheville. The 18-hole course challenges golfers with over 80 bunkers and water hazards on seven holes. It’s a links-style course and a favorite for those in Northeast Arkansas. The course includes a chipping green, driving range, practice bunkers and a pro shop.

Although the Natural State Golf Trail can’t feature every great golf course in Arkansas, it provides a great start to those who want to experience challenging courses that are beautifully designed and showcase the diversity of Arkansas’s landscapes.

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Kimberly S. Mitchell loves journeys, real or imagined. She has hiked the Inca Trail, walked into Panama on a rickety wooden bridge and once missed the last train of the night in Paris and walked several miles home (with friends). She believes magic can be found in life and books, loves to watch the stars appear, and still dreams of backpacking the world. Now she writes adventures to send her characters on journeys, too. Pen & Quin: International Agents of Intrigue - The Mystery of the Painted Book is her debut novel. Find out more at KSMitchell.com.

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