Country Club of Little Rock: Still for Whites only 

Racial issues slumbered away on the manicured golf courses of the Country Club of Little Rock and Pleasant Valley Country Club until a few months ago

If you're a black American, you can run for president, die for your country, marry a white person and adopt a white child, sign a multi-million dollar pro sports contract, or become a Supreme Court justice.

But become a member of Little Rock's two most exclusive country clubs? Good luck—at least until now.

Racial issues slumbered away on the manicured golf courses of the Country Club of Little Rock and Pleasant Valley Country Club until a few months ago, when part-time governor and full-time presidential candidate Bill Clinton was photographed playing a round of golf at CCLR with Little Rock lawyer Mark Grobmyer. The national press, in particular The New York Times, quickly seized on the club's all-white membership list, typecasting it as a bastion of Old South mores, and Clinton was excoriated by state and national black leaders for setting foot in the place.

Two months later, you still won't find a black member at either the Country Club or Pleasant Valley—though, as members are quick to point out, black guests play tennis and golf, attend functions, and dine at both clubs frequently.

As private clubs, CCLR and Pleasant Valley are free to admit whomever they choose. All-white golf clubs around the country were spurred to change since 1990, after the outcry surrounding the discovery that Shoal Creek Country in Birmingham, the site of that year's PGA Open, had no black members. Successful lawsuits have been brought against some exclusive clubs where million-dollar business deals are cemented over 18 holes and drinks in the clubhouse. For blacks in Little Rock, exclusion from the top two country clubs has been one of the invisible barriers to full membership in the city's professional and business community.

Ironically, efforts are underway at both clubs to recruit black members. The drive to bring in the first black at the CCLR started more than a year ago—long before the most recent media over the club' s membership policies. According to several current members—none of whom would speak for attribution—members Walter Hussman, publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and Bill Bowen, Clinton's stateside chief of staff, are in the process of sponsoring a local black man for membership. Hussman and Bowen, along with current club president Jack Williams, declined to comment, but the application of Curt "Howard" Reed, a local economic consultant with offices in the Stephens Building, is said to have been "accepted for consideration" by the club's Admission Committee. Reed was away from his office and did not return telephone messages for this story.

Two sponsors are required for an application, according to a summary of CCLR bylaws included in the club's membership roster. Each application is then considered by an admissions committee made up of the club board members. Once the applicant is approved by the committee, his or her name is posted on the club bulletin board "so that members may have an opportunity to comment on such application." Membership is limited to 500 "active" members, so even after approval, new members may have to wait for a spot to come open. The initiation fee ranges from $20,000 to $25,000 for different categories of membership. There's a lower charge, for example for "junior"

memberships and out-of-town club members. Monthly dues range from $100 — $200. Members report that the application process is somewhat cloudy.

"First you have to get your application considered," one longtime member explains. "Most people don't make it that far. Then you go onto a list. The application may move off that list, it may stay there forever, or it may just drop quietly off after some period of time."


Speaking of...

  • The Rev. Rapert wants to rename Clinton airport

    November 29, 2016
    The Bro./Sen. Rapert has his panties in a wad over the fact that Little Rock's airport is named for Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to his morning Tweet. I guess he should head on over to the Little Rock Airport Commission and warn them the Ledge is about to take it over. /more/
  • The roots and legacy of Bill Clinton's 'abandonment' of organized labor

    November 28, 2016
    After the labor movement helped elect David Pryor, Dale Bumpers and Bill Clinton early in their careers, the three politicians took aggressive anti-union positions, Michael Pierce, an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas, writes in a recent piece on The Labor and Working-Class History Association's Labor Online website. Pierce sees a connection between Clinton's early work against 1978's Labor Reform Bill (for the Pryor campaign), his later pro-business policies as governor and president and Hillary Clinton's struggles with working class whites. /more/
  • Bill Clinton was right

    November 17, 2016
    At the Arkansas Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser in July, Bill Clinton gave the worst speech I've ever heard him give. /more/
  • Roosevelt Thompson memorialized at Yale

    November 15, 2016
    Yale University had its ceremony last week renaming a dining hall for the late Roosevelt Thompson, the Little Rock native and Central High graduate who died in a car wreck in 1984 shortly before leaving for a Rhodes Scholarship. /more/
  • Huckabee: 'Hillary ain't Bill'

    November 8, 2016
    Mike Huckabee closes out the presidential campaign with comments on the relative likability of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton and vows reprisal against Republicans who didn't back Donald Trump. /more/
  • Breitbart airs 1980 assault complaint against Bill Clinton

    October 19, 2016
    A woman identified as Leslie Milwee, a  Fort Smith TV news reporter in 1980 when Bill Clinton was governor, has given an extended interview to Breitbart, a right-wing news outlet once headed by Stephen Bannon, the leader of Donald Trump's campaign, in which she said Clinton groped her sexually. /more/
  • Take a ‘Billgrimage’ in Arkansas

    October 10, 2016
    Bill and Hillary Clinton have strong ties to Arkansas. The airport in Little Rock was even renamed in honor of the couple. Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president, was born in Hope, grew up in Hot Springs, married Hillary in Fayetteville, served as governor of Arkansas in Little Rock, and made acceptance and celebration speeches in the state when he was elected and re-elected as the U.S. president. /more/
  • No, Bill Clinton did not call Obamacare 'the craziest thing in the world'

    October 4, 2016
    No, despite many reports to the contrary, Bill Clinton did not say in a speech that Obamacare is the craziest thing in the world. There are crazy problems that need fixing, but he is not calling for an end to Obamacare. /more/
  • Sex and the White House

    October 4, 2016
    Ernest Dumas' column this week muses on Donald Trump's vow to make the race about Bill Clinton's history despite the fact that Trump is "the most debauched political candidate in the history of public licentiousness." /more/
  • Donald Trump declares war on Hillary Clinton's marriage

    October 1, 2016
    Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to the New York Times yesterday in which he declared open season on the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton's past infidelity. Seems like a loser, but I've been wrong before. /more/
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Richard Martin

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Cover Stories

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation