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Big Creek rates big with readers: the Alotian Club tops list of private courses.

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MOUNTAIN HOME'S BIG CREEK Golf & Country Club, rated by readers of Golf Digest among 17 courses in the United States as a five-star course in 2004 and 2006, tops all of Arkansas' public-access courses in the 2008 ArkansasSports360. com readers' poll of the best golf courses in the state.

The Alotian Club, the ultraprivate golf enclave built by Warren Stephens in western Pulaski County, was the clear-cut winner among private courses in the poll, which was conducted online and through mail-in ballots from mid-January to Feb. 22. The Alotian Club, which opened in fall 2005 and was designed by the renowned Tom Fazio, was voted the Best New Private Course by Golf Digest in 2006.

Golf Digest's "Places to Play" has said of Big Creek: "Golf at its absolute best. Pay any price at least once in your life." It was rated No. 1 in the United States in top courses averaging 20,000 rounds per year or fewer and named the top U.S. course opened within the past five years in the 2004 edition of "Places to Play." The course, designed by Tom Clark of Ault Clark & Associates (also designer of the Hot Springs Village courses) maxes out at 7,320 yards and is highlighted by large greens. Its state-of-the-art practice facility features a three-tiered, 400-yard-deep driving range, separate putting and chipping greens, and a practice bunker. Its pre-sales tax greens fees range from $50 on weekends in the winter ($40 on weekdays) to $79 in the summer ($69 on weekdays), including cart rental. The club also sells full and nonresident memberships.

In the poll's 10-point system, where 10 points went to each reader's top choice all the way down to one point given to the reader's 10th pick, Big Creek nearly doubled its nearest challenger and garnered 208 first-place votes. More than 700 readers voted.

Mountain Ranch, which for years topped Arkansas' public-access course ratings, was second to Big Creek. Edmund Ault, who created Ault Clark & Associates, was the architect of Mountain Ranch. Fayetteville's Stonebridge Meadows, a Randy Heckinger design, finished third in this year's balloting. The Course at Eagle Mountain near Batesville, the newest of the top 10 rated public-access courses, was fourth, while Tannebaum, which only in recent years added a second nine to its original nine holes near Drasco on Greers Ferry Lake, was fifth.

The Alotian Club was the runaway leader in first-place votes in the private course rankings (garnering 118), but the course got few votes from readers for second through 10th places, and it was a narrow winner over Chenal Country Club's original Founders Course, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design. Pleasant Valley Country Club (Joe Finger, architect as well as redesigner) was third followed by Chenal's Bear Den Mountain, which opened in 2003 and is also a Jones design, and Diamante Country Club, Hot Springs Village's private course designed by Tom Clark.

TOP COURSES

TOP PUBLIC-ACCESS COURSES

Big Creek G&CC, Mountain Home

Mountain Ranch GC, Fairfield Bay

Stonebridge Meadows, Fayetteville

The Course at Eagle Mountain, Batesville

Glenwood CC

Harbor Oaks GC, Pine Bluff

Tannenbaum GC, Drasco

Red Apple Inn and GC, Heber Springs

Eagle Crest GC, Alma

Hot Springs CC Arlington

Others receiving votes (11-25): Rebsamen GC (LR), CooperHawk GC (Melbourne), Greystone Cypress Creek (Cabot), DeGray State Park GC (Bismarck), Hot Springs CC Park (formerly Majestic), Thunder Bayou GC (Blytheville), Big Sugar (Pea Ridge), Sage Meadows GC (Jonesboro), Greystone Mountain Springs (Cabot), First Tee of Central Arkansas (LR), Burns Park GC Championship (NLR), CC of Arkansas (Maumelle), Ben Geren GC (Fort Smith), War Memorial Park (LR).

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TOP PRIVATE COURSES

The Alotian Club

Chenal CC Founders Course

Pleasant Valley CC

Chenal CC Bear Den

Diamante CC

CC of Little Rock

Texarkana CC

Hardscrabble CC, Fort Smith

The Blessings at Clear Creek, Johnson

Pinnacle CC

Others receiving votes (11-25): Isabella

(HSV), Fayetteville CC, Granada

(HSV), Ponce de Leon (HSV), Balboa

(HSV), Maumelle CC, Chamberlyne CC

(Danville), RidgePoint CC (Jonesboro),

Magellan (HSV), Cherokee Village South

(Hardy), Eagle Hill Golf & Athletic

Club, Centennial Valley G&AC (Conway),

Springdale CO, Bella Vista Village CC,

Cherokee Village North (Hardy).
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Title Annotation:GOLF: Arkansas' Top Courses
Author:Harris, Jim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Mar 3, 2008
Words:688
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