When I first heard “golf” and Arkansas mentioned in the same sentence, I was a little bewildered. I’d been to this state when I was younger to chase whitetail deer, ducks, and largemouth bass, but had never thought of it as a destination for great golf. Boy, was I ever wrong?
It’s true, the Wonder State is home to some incredible golf at a reasonable price. The best part about golf in this great state is the geographic diversity in which the best courses were designed. Great golf can be found on the shores of some of the largest lakes in the country, and at elevation in the Ozark Mountains. When it comes to golf, Arkansas really does have something for everyone.
Curious to learn more? Check out our list of the best courses below.
Thunder Bayou Golf Links
Lee Trevino once said, “in a lightning storm, hold your 1-iron and 2-iron up to the sky because God can’t hit them either.”
While thunder and lightning aren’t uncommon in Arkansas, the experience at Thunder Bayou is anything but scary.
Located in the town of Blytheville, this track is a must play for both the experience and value.
Measuring just over 7,000 yards from all the way back, this links style golf course is an experience unlike any other in the state.
If you play in the afternoon when the winds kick up, remember to “swing it easy when it’s breezy.”
And don’t forget your sand wedge as the course features 80 strategically placed bunkers and numerous penalty areas that are waiting to punish wayward shots.
Big Creek Golf and Country Club
Just because this course has the words “country club” in its name, doesn’t mean you can’t play it. In fact, the staff at this top-notch facility are ready to welcome you with open arms and a warm smile.
Opening in 2000, this track is a hidden gem in the Twin Lakes and Mountain Home region of Arkansas.
Target golf is the name of the game at this property that features generous landing areas and expansive penalty areas. In short, it’s essential to commit to every shot here if you want to play well.
It’s easy to see why Big Creek has been the recipient of numerous Golf Digest and Golf Week accolades for best places to play.
Zoysia fairways and pure, bent grass greens make for immaculate playing conditions.
Just want to work on your game? You’ve come to the right place at Big Creek. The three-tiered 400-yard driving range and expansive short game areas allow you to hone every facet of your game.
Don’t forget to bring your bait casting rod too. The area is a bass fishing mecca with Norfork and Bulls Shoals Lakes only a short drive away.
Tannenbaum Golf Course at Mountain Ranch
Mountain golf reigns supreme at the Tannenbaum Couse at Mountain Ranch.
Built into the undulating landscape of the Ozark Mountains on the shores of Greers Ferry Lake, this course puts a premium on shot making and club selection.
Views of surrounding mountain peaks and the serene lake can make it tough to concentrate on the task at hand.
If you decide to play from the tips, be ready. This course is touted as one of the best tests in the entire state.
When you’re done with your round of golf, world-class trout fishing awaits both in the lake and on the Little Red River.
There’s no shortage of outdoor activities in this Ozark paradise. Golf is certainly one of them.
Mystic Creek Golf Club
There’s a reason locals of El Dorado, Arkansas call Mystic Creek the public Augusta. I was fortunate enough to play this track with a close friend one fall and it more than lives up to the hype.
Nestled amongst Cathedral Pines, Mystic Creek’s design mirrors everything I’m used to seeing on CBS every April.
The greens are notoriously fast a true and, the lack of rough and tight green surrounds present a challenge for even the most deft player.
Precision is the name of the game at Mystic Creek and the experience of playing this great track isn’t one you’ll soon forget.
If you’re able to get around here without a three-putt, consider it a good day.
Ponce de Leon Golf Club
Who isn’t a fan of John Daly? I don’t know about you but, if there’s a guy I wouldn’t mind tipping a couple back with, it’s Big John. This course has his name on it.
The track is consistently voted one of the state’s best and it’s not hard to see why.
Tree-lined fairways and some of the best putting surfaces around make Ponce de Leon a favorite for both locals and vacationers.
Even though this a tough track, it’s a fair test for all levels of player. If you’re in the Hot Springs area and have time for a round, Ponce de Leon is your ticket.
Rebsamen Park Golf Course
If you find yourself in the state’s capitol and have an afternoon for round of golf, Rebsamen Park is calling your name.
The history at this track dates all the way back to 1954 when Raymond Rebsamen donated $30,000 for the development of a course that he wanted to be accessible to the public.
Today, this championship layout features generous fairways and remarkable views of the Arkansas River on a number of holes.
Each hole is right in front of you. You’d best be on your game from tee-to-green, though. Narrow fairways are guarded by plenty of trees that can prove to be penal if you aren’t careful.
I’m always a fan of golf courses that are modestly priced and inclusive in nature. Rebsamen Park is the epitome of that in the heart of Little Rock. A must play.
Indian Hills Golf Resort
One of the best kept secrets in the whole state is Indian Hills Golf Resort.
If classic designs are your cup of tea, Indian Hills has everything you’ll want and more.
Narrow, tree-lined fairways and small, undulating greens make this track a true shot maker’s test.
While the amenities lack the glitz and glamour of some other facilities on this list, the golf course is second to none.
Having played this track myself, I’ll admit it ate my lunch the first time around. As I lamented my woes over a beer with the locals after my round, they tell me there’s a lifetime of local knowledge to be garnered around here.
My suggestion? Play this track for fun the first time… And revenge the second.
Also, remember to keep it a secret – the locals like it that way.
Glenwood Country Club
You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again… Just because a golf course has “country club” in its name, doesn’t mean the average Joe isn’t welcome.
That’s precisely the case at Glenwood CC.
Even though they’ve only been open since 2015, this Bobby McGee design is worth the price of admission. And that’s pretty modest for what you get to experience.
When you play here, make sure you play 18 holes. The signature 15th measures 178 yards from the tips and is one of the more demanding tee shots in the state. You’d better choose the right bat and flush it. Mishit? Grab your snorkel and fins… Or you can just pencil in double bogey like I did.
The amenities are exceptional as well. And they’re moderately priced.
If you want to pound it off the tee, this might not be your spot.
Should you want a great round that rewards the good and punishes the bad however, Glenwood makes Arkansas proud.
Country Club of Arkansas
The name says it all at this facility. It epitomizes everything that golf should be in the Wonder State. Downhome, decency, and a warm welcome are what you get when you come to this iconic property.
Then comes breakfast before a morning tee time… Oh yeah, there’s the golf course which is the real reason you come.
Strategically manicured in a forest of stately pine trees, this expanse is just north enough to be a little edgy, yet south enough to lend an air of gentility that’s deserved.
This is classic Arkansas golf where no one is in any particular hurry, yet things move along as the place, people, and nature intended.
Straight forward. Challenging. Fair. Reputable. Having played this track, those are the words that come to mind as I describe my experience here.
When you come here, take a deep breath. Let the serenity and quietude move you along at the appropriate pace… That’s what I did, and the number was favorable based on what I expected.
Forest Hills Golf Club
Intertwined through a deciduous and pine forest lies Forest Hills Course. If you’re looking for an exceptional experience but don’t want break the bank, this is as good as it gets.
Although this course isn’t long, it beckons strategy and precision.
The practice facilities are some of best in the area and the resident pros know what they’re talking about… Take it from me, I was struggling when I signed up for a tune up here out of desperation and was back on track in a matter of minutes.
The golf course is pure. No two ways about. Value, check. Service, check. Total experience, check mate.
Next time I head to Arkansas (it won’t be long), I’ll surely have my deer rifle and fishing rod in tow. Mark my words though, I’ll have my sticks with me too.
Even though this state isn’t known for its world-class golf, there are plenty of great tracks to play. When it comes to great golf, friendly people, and reasonable prices, there’s no reason Arkansas shouldn’t be near the top of your list.