Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Long days and scalding heat don't stop true golfers from playing or the greenskeepers from tending the turf. In fact, the public courses of Central Arkansas may be the greenest place to be this summer, and they welcome all kinds of players. Here's a list of our very different options, and what it will cost to tee off.
Burns Park Championship Course The quintessential public links in the metro area, this is a mature course that places the emphasis on reaching the green rather than putting. The greens are slow with little to no break, soft and receptive to irons (even long ones). The rough is far less punishing than the hard pan skirting some of the holes. The open layout is good for beginners but holds on to a few secrets for the more skilled player to discover. The atmosphere is laid back with no apparent dress code. No tee times required. 30 Championship Drive, NLR. 758-5800. $29 Mon.-Fri., $31 Sat.-Sun., $10 twilight fees after 4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $14 twilight fees after 4 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Course open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
Country Club of Arkansas This is the Cadillac of public courses, but you have to pay for it. The Tifeagle Bermuda greens roll smooth and absorb approach shots like a sponge. Fairways expand and contract giving the player a risk-reward option on nearly every hole. An e-membership gives a nice price break if you plan on playing there enough, but this is not a course for beginners or budget golfers. This is a country club without the white sweater tied around its neck. See website for twilight, super twilight and early bird specials during the week and on weekends. Fees include golf cart rental. 3 Country Club Circle, Maumelle. 851-0095. countryclubofarkansas.com. $22-$42. 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Emerald Park As a kid, did you dream of full-sized Putt-Putt courses? Where you'd drive the ball through windmills and chip over an electronic alligator's jaws? Emerald Park is a close substitution. One green has a stonewall backboard, another hole is lined by an exposed pipeline and others boast right-angle doglegs. The greens are fair and fairways are a little rocky, but this nine-hole course has charm in spades. There are multiple nine-hole tournaments every week at the end of which you get a free hot dog, straight off the grill. The mostly volunteer staff is friendly and will help in any way. Discounts available for seniors and veterans. 2200 Fort Roots Drive, NLR. 244-8500. emeraldparkgolfacademy.com. $8 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $9 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.-Sun. and holidays, $5 4 p.m.-dark daily. 7 a.m.-dark.
First Tee of Arkansas Though designed and promoted as a golf school Mecca for Central Arkansas kids, First Tee also offers the finest nine holes of golf available to the public in Little Rock. Well groomed and classically designed, the long nine, the Chairman's Course, offers a true test of skill without the distraction or comfort (depending on how you look at it) of a golf cart. The short nine, the Honors Course, is a great place to play a round with kids or work on your short game. Both are in spectacular condition. 1 First Tee Way. 562-4653. thefirstteelittlerock.org. Chairman's Course: $13-$15; Honors Course: $9-$10. 8 a.m.-dark Mon.-Sat., noon-dark Sun.
Golf at Castle Valley Most golf courses add on a bar as an afterthought to the golf, a tidy place with a cutsie name like Bogie's, Birdie's or Duffer's, where you can grab a beer at the turn or share a drink at the end of a round. Castle Valley is just the opposite. It looks like a biker bar decided to add on a golf course just as it would another pool table or a second foos-ball game (both of which Castle Valley have). If Midtown played Pizza' D in a Ryder Cup-style match, Castle Valley would host it. The greens are not in great shape, but welcoming. This is a perfect option for the anti-country club scene and a symbolically, if not in the bar, breath of fresh air for the weekend muni-golfer. Discounts available for seniors and milirary. 8500 Castle Valley Road, Mabelvale. 562-1814. golfofcastlevalley.com. $23 Mon.-Fri., $26 Sat. Sunrise-sunset.
Greens at North Hills Immediately you can tell that this is not your average Central Arkansas muni course by the attendant who greets you and carries your bag to your golf cart. The once-private country club in Sherwood now welcomes one and all as kindly as if you played there everyday. The course is situated on rolling hills, so you rarely enjoy a flat lie, even from the fairway. The greens run very fast. So fast in fact, that a well struck wedge can easily escape off the front or back of the large greens. The cart paths are not fit for a burro, and the grass still needs to mature, but all the components are there for a top-shelf public course. Annual fees are available as are discounts for juniors and seniors. 7400 Hwy. 107, Sherwood. 501-833-3790. thegreensatnorthhills.net. $19 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Thu., $10 2 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu., $25 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Fri.-Sun. and holidays, $16 2 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun and holidays. Tee times: noon-6:30 p.m. Mon., 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun.
Hindman Golf Course By far the most difficult public course in the metro, Hindman requires a full spectrum of shots. You’ll need more than a driver and a wedge to hit greens on the tight and tree-lined par fours. The Bermuda greens are thick with grass, even in the hot summer sun, but roll slowly over fine sand. Discounts available for seniors and female golfers. 60 Brookview Drive. 565-6450. $16 Mon.-Fri., $17 Sat.-Sun and on holidays. 7 a.m.-dark.
Rebsamen Golf Course With the river butting up against the fairways and a view of downtown Little Rock in the distance, Rebsamen offers a scenic and open golf course for the public. The wide fairways lend themselves to a variety of golfing styles and skill levels, and the layout and condition of the course are all you could ask for from a municipal course, even if it is a bit boring around the greens. Additionally, Rebsamen offers up a short course (not a par-three course) for those still honing their skills who may not want to get out on the big course. Discounts for juniors and seniors available for 18-hole course. 3400 Rebsamen Park Road. 666-7965. 18-hole course: $23 Mon.-Fri., $29 Sat.-Sun., $13 after 3 p.m. daily. Nine-hole course: $10 daily. 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily.
Stonelinks The only true links experience in Central Arkansas, Stonelinks is a course of extremes. Seven thousand yards of wide-open fairways give way to impeccable greens, both of which miraculously seem to be at their best in the height of summer and the dead of winter. The open layout allows for a variety of skill and style of play. Discounts available for juniors and seniors. Greens fees include cart rental. 110 Hwy. 391 N, NLR. 945-0945. stonelinks.net. $30 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $25 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $35 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun., $25 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
War Memorial Golf Course You'd be hard-pressed to name another golf course that sets par at 64 and doubles as one of the Southeast Conference's finest tailgate spots. It's versatile, convenient, fun and downright iconic. The first five holes are crammed into the northwest corner of the park and include three par threes and nowhere to use a driver. The last 13 holes are easy and fun holes with drivable par fours, blind drives to elevated fairways and elevated tees to sunken greens. Plus, if you can hit a ball into War Memorial from number 17-tee box your Razorback-wish will come true! Watch out on 18 that you don't slice one into oncoming Markham traffic. Discounts for juniors and seniors available. 5511 W. Markham St. 663-0854. $16 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $12 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $17 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $13 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-7 p.m.