The First Tee of Central Arkansas welcomes golfers with two distinct challenges: a championship-length nine-hole course and a par-3 nine-hole course. The longer of the two, the par-36 Chairman’s course sends golfers swinging across 3,428 yards of fairways lined with sparsely populated groves of trees. A golfer who is confident with a driver or shower-curtain rod can conquer the course’s lengthier holes, which include 539- and 551-yard par 5s and a 475-yard par 4 that is the course’s most difficult, due in part to a water hazard that hugs the left side and a misplaced track-and-field commentator who encourages the use of the flagstick as a javelin. For a more leisurely round, players can test their short iron skills on the par-3 Honors course, which features holes that range from 65 to 113 yards in length.
Along with its public courses, The First Tee of Central Arkansas uses the game of golf to teach local youth life skills through Jack Stephens Youth Golf Academy. The academy reaches out to low-income and special-needs children, providing free access to the program as a means of enriching their lives and preparing them for the future.
A lifelong golfer who has putted and driven her way to three Women's U.S. Opens while earning her way in to the PGA Quarter Century Club, course professional Dawn Darter knows the ins, overs, and outs of The Greens' stunningly styled slopes—as well as its recently renovated greens and fairways. During each 45-minute private lesson, Darter tweaks swing mechanics with exercises that incorporate posture, wrist motion, and diaphragm control for more pleasant-sounding victory yodels. Mentor and PGA Professional Life Member Tom Hanson is also on-hand to instruct golfers in new tactics for skimming strokes from long and short games. If you'd rather skip to the part where you hit a ball so hard that it circumnavigates the globe and clonks you in the back of the head, head to the driving range area with a ball key card worth 12 large buckets, or 576 golf balls, and spend an afternoon blissfully pretending that each ball is the unusually small, dimpled white head of your boss.
Arkansas Golf Center is one of the largest public driving ranges in the state with more than 100 tee stations, a golf learning academy, a 7,000-square-foot pro shop, and more. Groupon golfers can enjoy a Tour Quality fitting ($50 value) to find out what club length, swing weight, and style of paisley knickers best suit their particular panache on the course. Novice swingers and golf gurus alike can improve their skills with the V1 Pro digital video lesson ($70 value) led by one of the Golf Center’s qualified instructors, who employ the help of high-speed digital video cameras and the advanced swing analysis technology of the V1 Pro Digital Coaching System software to break down swing mechanics. Arkansas Golf Center offers classes in various locations, including the indoor air-conditioned video-lesson bay and the 27-acre driving range.
Cypress Creek Golf Course slinks through Greystone subdivision, adding up to a 7,392-yard length that requires accuracy and length in equal measure. Designer Kevin Tucker drew up the course blueprint with aqua in mind; golfers confront water on 13 of the course’s 18 holes. Players must clear a meandering creek on the par-5 3rd hole, nimbly avoiding it off the tee, on their approach. Both hole 12 and hole 18 take hard doglegs left around a lake, while the par-3 16th hole features a dramatic shot into a unique island green, reminiscent of the famous 17th hole of the TPC at Sawgrass’s Stadium Course.
Course at a Glance:
The six target greens and 350 grassy yards of landing area at Mulligans Golf Range & Bobby Wilson Teaching Center bolster gameplay alongside swing-honing lessons from certified instructors, including three-time World Long Drive champion Bobby Wilson. Golfers can tee off year-round and in any weather conditions from 10 lighted and covered stations, emptying two medium buckets of balls (180 total) across a peaceful verdant landscape punctuated only by the sporadic encouragement of cheerleading Scotch Highlanders. Long-driving neophytes with dreams of golf-ball domination can rework swings and locate sweet spots under the tutelage of certified golf pros during hour-long lessons. Instilled with new fairway-conquering wisdom, guests can showcase golf and culinary skills alike as they line up their shots from a natural grass tee and pepper the greens with a small bucket of 45 balls.