Sunday, April 15, 2012

Round #12: Arkansas - Chenal Country Club: Bear Den Mountain Course

It has been a few weeks since we returned from our last road trip. Ethan & Adley celebrated their birthdays. We had an early Easter egg hunt with the Iowa grand kids before flying back to San Francisco. 

Adley & her new "baby"

Any guess as to what Ethan got for his birthday??? 

Adley spotted the Easter eggs with no help. 

Adley, Madison & Ethan after their Easter egg hunt.

We spent Easter with the California grandkids and also were present for Layla’s first birthday celebration. Her first birthday party was a little quieter compared to the keg of beer and 70 relatives that helped her brother Max celebrate his first birthday. We returned to Bettendorf at 10 PM on Wednesday night, packed up the car, and took off to Arkansas by 9 AM on Friday morning.
Max with building blocks in Golden Gate Park on Easter Sunday 

Max at the San Francisco Zoo 

Layla really liked the playground at the San Francisco Zoo

Layla would rather eat her birthday card than read it!

My first attempt to play golf in Arkansas was rained out, after making the 665-mile journey under warm, sunny skies. The tables were turned for this trip; after driving 300-miles through Missouri in hard driving rain we arrived under scattered showers on Friday night in Arkansas. Saturday morning brought with it warm & dry conditions - it was time to play golf!

Round: #12
Location: Little Rock, AR
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #5
Date: 14 Apr, tee off at 9:50 AM
Conditions: partly sunny skies, 11 MPH wind, 72 degrees
Yardage: 6,621
Lost balls: 1
Score: 88 on a par 72
Chenal Country Club has two 18-hole courses designed by Robert Trent Jones. The greens had been recently aerated on the Bear Den Mountain course and golf carts were restricted to cart paths to ready the course for the upcoming Southern Amateur tournament. For those reasons, the majority of members were playing the Founders course. I teed off by myself on the more difficult Bear Den Mountain course.

 412-yard par 4 hole #1

355-yard par 4 hole #2 (view of the approach shot from the fairway) 

168-yard par 3 hole #4 

494-yard par 5 hole #7

There were no players visible in front of me; two ladies teed off a hole behind me. With such a lack of players, I was surprised when a single player on a cart caught up to me on hole #6. I waited on the #7 tee box where an insurance broker named William Roberts Lee joined me. He introduced himself as “Roberts” since he prefers to be called by his middle name. I naturally inquired after hearing his family name - - - and was told he is a 5th generation descendant of Henry Lee III, Robert E. Lee’s father. The “golf gods” were not helping me on Saturday morning. After hitting one ball into a creek and another shot into the trees, I carded three double bogeys in the first six holes. I was glad for the change in pace. Roberts brought me good luck as I parred three of the next six holes. Unfortunately, he dropped off after hole #12 to attend his son’s baseball game.

Wiliam Roberts Lee standing on hole #9 green 

502-yard par 5 hole #10 (view of approach to the green over a creek bed) 

180-yard par 3 hole #13 

507-yard par 5 hole #15 

View of the green & fairway on hole #15 

354-yard par 4 hole #16 

163-yard par 3 hole #17

When I first started to target which courses to play in each state, I originally selected the Alotian Golf Club in nearby Roland, Arkansas. When they denied my request I turned to the Chenal Country Club as my 2nd choice. During the short time I spent with Roberts, he provided me with several interesting stories - most of which revolved around the Alotian Golf Club.
Alotian Golf Club
One of the founders of the Alotian was Warren Stevens, who’s father Jack Stevens was a former Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club. Jack was a native son of Little Rock who made his fortune taking Arkansas companies public, companies with names such as Walmart and Tyson Foods. In forming the Alotian Golf Club, Warren was attempting to develop a very exclusive club similar to Augusta National. In order of exclusivity, Roberts listed Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey as #1, Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia as #2 and the Alotian Golf Club as #3. That helped me understand why my request to play was denied.
A business relationship enabled Roberts to play the Alotian. He shared two events from that experience. As he approached the #1 tee, he lifted his foot and noticed a golf spike was missing. The starter approached him and asked what the problem was. Roberts first impression was that he had done something “wrong”. When the problem with the missing golf spike was mentioned, the starter informed him that “they do not have any problems at the Alotian”. The starter called for assistance; two men quickly appeared and proceeded to replace all of his shoe spikes. The second memorable moment occurred at dinner. No menus were provided; the waiter merely inquired as to what he would like to eat that evening. The chefs were prepared to cook whatever he desired to eat. I did not ask what that dinner cost.
A favorite story in Little Rock involving Jack Stevens involves a friendly poker game. Jack was playing poker with a few other members in the Crow’s Nest room at Augusta National. A new member approached and asked to join the game. After the cards were dealt, he learned the gentlemen were playing for a $1 stake. Not satisfied with such low stakes wagering, he requested raising the stakes to some “serious” money. After Jack tired of the repeated requests, he turned to the new member and inquired about his net worth. After learning the new member was worth $50M, Jack proceeded to ask if he wanted to just cut the deck of cards for that amount. The gentleman declined. . . and the group returned to their $1 stake poker game.

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