New Course Underway in Arkansas

Work on a 500-acre development that includes a golf course is underway in El Dorado, Ark. Pete Parks is the backer of the Union County project, and Ken Dye is the designer of the layout, tentatively to be called Mystic Creek Golf Club.

Mystic Creek will be the only course in south-central Arkansas that will qualify to be part of the Natural State Golf Trail, which now consists of 10 facilities around the state. The fairways have been staked, and construction to set to begin in May.

Besides the Dye-designed track, the project involves homesites that range from garden-patio size to 2- to 3-acre estate lots. Regardless, the new residents will enjoy great views of the course, according to Parks. “The majority of lots are looking down a beautiful slope to a fantastic green complex. The contouring is really better than I thought it would be,” Parks told reporter Toni Walthall of the El Dorado News-Times. “Now that I’ve had a chance to walk the property, Mystic Creek is the perfect name, because the creek mystically pops up everywhere you go.”

Parks believes the golf course will serve as an attraction to new residents and help spur El Dorado’s economy. According to Dye, a partner in the design firm of Houston-based Finger, Dye, Spann, Mystic Creek has dreamy possibilities. “[The property] has 90 percent of what a golf course architect would look for,” he told Walthall. “For the El Dorado area, this property has more elevation change than is typical. From high to low it has 70 feet of elevation change, very undulating. There couldn’t be any more elevation, or any less; it’s ideal for a golf course.”

Dye is also enamored with the ground upon which the course will be built. The site boasts sandy soil, ideal for growing turfgrass. Dye plans to integrate native vegetation, including pines and hardwoods, into the layout. He estimates some of the trees are 100 years old. “I won’t be adding too much to it, just taking away trees necessary for the golf course,” he told Walthall. “It’s a very good, very large piece of property.”

If all goes well with the initial development, Parks has the option to expand onto a neighboring 1,000 acres. If that happens, another 18-hole course may be in the offing. The current site is certainly big enough for Dye, who designed the acclaimed Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club in Sandia Park, N.M. “It’s a large piece of property that allows us to have a lot of room for the golf course, a lot of room for the holes, so they are not too close,” Dye said. “[The course] is not surrounded by development, no road crossings to interfere, nothing interrupting play.”

Dye also found the land a bit more intriguing after a recent site visit. The topography “is a little more complex” than he originally thought. “There are extremely complex land forms – ridges and valleys, which we will make good use of.”

Construction of the course will be overseen by Bill Zimmerebner, whose son, Tim, will serve as the facility’s director of golf. Tim Zimmerebner served in that same position at El Dorado Golf and Country Club for 15 years, and was named the PGA Arkansas Chapter’s Professional of the Year in 2004.

Mystic Creek will be open to the public, with green fees in the $35 range. The course will extend a whopping 7,500 yards from the tips, and its forward tees will be a more manageable 5,000 yards. If all goes well with construction, golfers will be able to test drive Mystic Creek for themselves in the summer of 2006.