Posted on December 7, 2013
Originally published in the El Dorado News-Times on December 8, 2013.
It?s been a whirlwind seven-month run for Mystic Creek Golf Club.
Since opening in May, Mystic Creek has played host to several tournaments and gained a reputation as being one of the toughest courses to navigate in South Arkansas.
Recently, El Dorado?s newest golf course received national recognition.
Golf Digest, one of the country?s top publications on the sport, named Mystic Creek as one of the best new golf courses in 2013.
"It means a lot to us to be recognized nationally, but also locally,? said Bryan LaRue, who is the head golf professional at Mystic Creek. "I believe it?s a big compliment.?
The award also stands to give Mystic Creek more attention, as well as the chance to host bigger tournaments in the future.
"It?s huge,? LaRue said. "This past year, we?ve kind of been word of mouth. We really didn?t do much advertising, but with Golf Digest coming down, looking at the golf course and giving us that honor, it certainly opens doors for bigger tournaments, more national tournaments, which is what we want.?
Although it took several years to finalize, Pete Parks, Mystic Creek?s developer, never wavered in his commitment to the project.
"You have to stay committed to what you believe the vision is,? Parks said. "It was a new concept for our area, which was difficult for a lot of people to understand, but again, I?ve seen it work so well in areas that were small and rural like ours where the draw is an elite golf course. Golfers are very passionate about the game of golf, and they?ll travel to play what they think is a challenging course.?
Although the golf course itself has been open for play since May, Parks said the entrance to Mystic Creek, as well as the clubhouses and overnight cottages still need to be completed.
"Depending on when we receive the plans from the architects, we hope to have everything pretty well finished by this time next year,? Parks said. "It?s possible it could go into the spring of 2015, but our goal is to try and get everything done by the end of next year.?
The award could also make an impact on the number of golfers that visit from out of the area to try and take a crack at Mystic Creek, which measures a whopping 7,492 yards from their championship tees.
"We?re really close to Dallas when it comes to golf-like trips,? Parks said. "It?s only about four hours or so, and that?s sort of the geographic area we have. The bulk of our play will come within a 70-mile radius, but one substantial portion of the play will come from people who will travel to the course because of the good things people have heard about it and the challenge that it presents.?
LaRue said Mystic Creek already has events set with the Golf Week Amateur Tour and the Arkansas Women?s Golf Association, as well as the return of the SAU Mulerider Fall Classic for next year, and he didn?t rule out the possibility of hosting high school events or having a local school make Mystic Creek its home course.
"It?s certainly possible,? LaRue said.
Although Mystic Creek is far from being completely finished, Parks believes that when everything is done, it will be a good accomplishment.
"It?s an ambitious project, and to complete everything requires time, persistence and cooperation from a lot of other parties,? Parks said. "It?s something I think we?re proud of, and I hope the folks in South Arkansas are proud of it.
"It?s an elite golf course, and we?re already attracting people from out of state to come and visit. We?re attracting out of state events that are coming here that will bring out of state players. We?re just in the infant stages of accomplishing what we hope to accomplish over the next few years.?
Although he has heard some grumbling on the difficulty of the golf course, Parks believes the challenge of Mystic Creek will keep people coming back.
"The only complaint that we?ve had is the difficulty of the course,? Parks said. "It is difficult, but when Golf Digest came out with their rankings this year, they talked to one of the architects, and there was some complaining about the fact that the first five holes they played on a particular course had 90-degree putts on them, and that architect said that?s what makes it fun.
"People want challenges, and that what makes greens fun. That?s what I say about our course. It is challenging, but it?s in a beautiful setting. It?s comparable to what you would play if you played on one of those elite courses. That?s what we wanted in our area, and the more you play it, the easier it gets. That?s just the way it is.?
Although Mystic Creek?s first-year anniversary is still several months away, LaRue has been pleased with its debut.
"I?m kind of biased, but it?s a special place,? LaRue said. "I?ve lived in Michigan and played a lot of golf courses, but this place is real special. You forget that you?re in South Arkansas.? " "And The Winners of the 2013 El Dorado Christmas Parade Are… – Tuesday, December 10, 2013"