Hale Irwin recognizes that most golf courses have only one signature hole. But you don’t win the U.S. Open three times and rack up 87 professional victories in a storied PGA career by doing what everybody else does. So when Mr. Irwin unveiled his design for The Links at Cottonwoods in March of 1998, he included two signature holes: the 13th, a par 5 extending to a whopping 600 yards, and the 16th, a par 3 with a nerve-racking island green. In 2012, readers of Golf Digest presented Mr. Irwin with a 4.5-star rating in the magazine’s “Best Places to Play” section for his audacious design and willingness to flout convention.
His distinctive pair of holes highlights a pristine, 18-hole stretch of Scottish-style links, complete with wide fairways pestered by strong seasonal winds but free of wandering sheep that chew on argyle socks. As players chase dimpled orbs across the Meyer Zoysia fairways and tap them over the Champion Bermuda greens, they’ll encounter water-bordering play on more than half of the holes.
Course at a Glance:
Wedgewood Golfers' Club and North Creek Golf Course integrate the scenic landscapes of northern Mississippi into their par 72 layouts, taking golfers across rolling hills and rippling waterways.
The North Creek course's bermuda-grass fairways weave along the edges of Horn Lake Creek with a relatively open layout and mounded terrain that channels the links-style charm of golf's Scotch-Irish forebears. Slightly easier than its counterpart, North Creek caters to clubbers of all stripes with four tee options and optional bumper greens.
North Creek Golf Course at a Glance:
Cleaved through a combination of dense tree lines and intervening ponds, The Wedgewood course's bermuda-grass fairways sprawl across 6,863 yards of arduous terrain. With trees hugging most holes, and water hazards kissed against the underside of two doglegged fairways, the course frequently forces players into tough course-management decisions, such as when to smash a driver, when to play lay-up with a three-wood, and how to coerce fellow golfers into giving you unlimited mulligans. Though challenging from the back tees, the course's inventive layout is forgiving enough for players of all abilities.
Wedgewood Golfers' Club at a Glance:
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:
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.