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Smyers Gives Stiff Challenge: Rival America’s Best
Promising to deliver “one of the most outstanding golf facilities in the United States,” landowner Ronny Hissom and the management company Pro Star Golf have put the burden to fulfill the promise squarely on the shoulders of course architect Steve Smyers.
”We looked at golf course architects who have a significant amount of experience but are on the cutting edge and are becoming highly recognizable by their designs,” said Pro Star’s Rich Covelli. “Steve has three courses now in the top 100. He is a consummate professional, easy to work with and has a very, very strong reputation for high-quality designs.”
In this project, Circle H Golf Community in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Smyers appears to also have the right kind of land for golf. Work on the course began in early March 2001. “This has unique topography,” Smyers said. “It has nice rolls, and is fairly open with good pitch-and-roll opportunities. We will use the existing slopes of the land to develop strategy and shot-making.”
While the White River runs adjacent to a few holes, Smyers will take fullest advantage of the site’s hills, valleys and swales, using “angles of the target” to provide a challenge and a risk-and-reward component. “A challenge can be playing a ball on a hillside or a swale at an awkward lie and an awkward angle to the hole,” he said. “The Southwest wind is prevailing. Combine that with the slope of the hitting area, angle of approach, length of the shot and firmness of the ground – these all provide a hazard. It is not a penal hazard but an obstacle to overcome.”
He termed Circle H “a thinking man’s design. If the golfer has the ability to hit shots and to understand what the lie and wind do and how the ground will play, they can negotiate the shot,” he added. “But if they don’t, the ball will just shoot off-line and they face a more difficult ensuing shot.”
Meanwhile, Smyers’ design will include a state-of-the-art training center presenting golfers with every shot they will encounter under normal playing conditions: uphill, downhill and sidehill lies, chipping areas and elevated greens. Bunker areas and extensive putting greens will be included. And audiovisual equipment will be available at the driving range stations, which will be grassed.
Hissom and Pro Star hope for an opening in the summer of 2002. Hissom, who operates Hissom Oil Co. in Midland, Texas, and whose family operated a cattle ranch on this property for many years, said the land will be developed in two phases. The first phase encompasses the 200-acre golf course and 200 acres for 300 residential lots.
”This is the best piece of property in northwest Arkansas,” said Hissom, who grew up here. “We have terrific schools and beautiful houses all around.”
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