KEEP IT PRIVATE

Summoning the last two years I’ve spent on golf travels, three new private clubs come immediately to mind: the Blessings in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Lahontan in Truckee; and Stone Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. All of these courses are ranked in either Golf Digest’s or Golf Magazine’s Top 100 courses.

The Blessings

The course, created in 2004 by Tyson Foods CEO John Tyson, is just up the road from the University of Arkansas. Robert Trent Jones, II was the lead architect, though many suggestions came from Tyson, who still oversees every facet of the club.

This is a demanding layout that can be stretched to 7,500 yards, if necessary. The terrain is hilly at times and also includes many flat holes with a river running through. I really enjoyed the par-4s, especially the ones on the flat part of the course. The course is in absolutely perfect condition and will only have 200 members.

There are some homes in the area, but they are not really visible from the course. The Blessings has one of the best practice facilities in the U.S. and it is home to both the men’s and women’s golf teams for the University of Arkansas.

John Tyson built a state-of-the-art learning center for the golf teams with an indoor clubhouse, including indoor hitting bays. No doubt this is a big plus for recruiting. The facility is available to members and guests as well.

For more info call 479-444-6330.

Lahontan

Across the street from the Truckee Airport near the north shore of Lake Tahoe lies a Tom Weiskopf masterpiece known as Lahontan. Weiskopf has become one of the elite golf course architects since retiring from a successful career on the PGA Tour, where he posted more than 20 victories, including the British Open and the U.S. Senior Open. He calls Lahontan “the best site in the U.S. that I have ever had to work on.” This is strong stuff from an architect who has many top-rated courses, among them Loch Lomond Club in Luss, Scotland.

Lahontan has many great holes, and remember, the ball goes 10 to 15% farther in the high altitude. This whole course is in a scenic valley with nice elevation changes, rock outcroppings and lots of nature. Deer roam the fairways and pure mountain lakes protect many greens. Flanking the fairways are high-end homes. For more info visit www.lahontan.com or call 530-550-2400.

Stone Canyon

Jay Morrish is well known as the architect who remodeled the Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course. He originally gained notoriety as a partner with Tom Weiskopf in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Stone Canyon in Oro Valley, just north of Tucson, is his creation and required a lot of imagination. The site has ample acreage and great elevation changes. The challenge was to build a championship golf course with less than 90 acres of irrigated land, a restriction set by the State of Arizona in recognition of water shortages. Stone Canyon has a great practice facility so the course actually only uses about 80 acres of irrigated land; this means lots of target golf.

For more info visit www.stonecanyon.com or call 520-219-9000.