With a few exceptions, Arkansas isn’t exactly on many golf maps for must-see playing opportunities for traveling, public-access golfers. But for those willing to try out the Natural State, there’s a wide range of terrain that promises everything from rolling forests in the south of the state all the way to steeper layouts in the Ouachita Mountains.
The best public-access course in Arkansas, as judged by the Golfweek’s Best national panel of raters, is Mystic Creek Golf Club in El Dorado, about 15 miles north of the Louisiana border. Designed by Kenneth Dye Jr. and opened in 2013, Mystic Creek plays at a maximum 7,492 yards through rolling timberline. It has hosted a Symetra Tour event, the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, that will resume in 2021 after the completion of a new clubhouse at the course.
Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses, including that state-by-state list for private clubs and the popular Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for facilities that allow non-member tee times.
Mystic Creek is followed on that Best Courses You Can Play list by No. 2 The Ridges at Village Creek in Wynne, Hot Springs Country Club with its No. 3 Park Course and its No. 4 Arlington Course, and No. 5 Big Creek Golf and Country Club in Mountain Home.
It’s on the private side that Arkansas really shines, with The Alotian Club in Roland tops on the list. The mountainous Tom Fazio layout, which opened in 2004 not far from Little Rock, is also ranked No. 14 on Golfweek’s Best list for all Modern Courses built in or after 1960 in the United States.
The Alotian Club is followed on the private list by No. 2 Texarkana Country Club, No. 3 Blessings in Fayetteville (host site of the 2019 NCAA Championships) and No. 4 Hardscrabble in Fort Smith.
Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Arkansas
1. Mystic Creek
El Dorado (m)
2. The Ridges at Village Creek
3. Hot Springs CC (Park)
Hot Springs (c)
4. Hot Springs CC (Arlington)
Hot Springs (c)
5. Big Creek G&CC
Mountain Home (m)
Golfweek’s Best Private Courses 2020 in Arkansas
1. Alotian Club
Roland (No. 14 m)
2. Texarkana CC
3. The Blessings
Fort Smith (c)
Golfweek’s Best 2020
How we rate them
The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged together to produce a final rating for each course. Then each course is ranked against other courses in its state, or nationally, to produce the final rankings.