“Great things in Hot Springs”
Back in July, when Myra and I first began our plan to travel from our home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to visit her sister, Val, and other family members in the Florida Panhandle, Hot Springs, Arkansas, was not on my list of must see places.
It was for Myra, who had long wanted to visit the famous town known for its thermal baths and therapeutic mineral water. After she informed me of this slight detour, of which I had no objection, would be a three day visit I then proceeded to google “Hot Springs golf”. It soon became a four-day visit after google introduced me to a residential golf Mecca slightly north of the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, poignantly known as Hot Springs Village. Here amid some of the most beautiful woodlands and rolling terrain, sits eight fantastic golf courses of which two we were very pleased to be invited by Mr. Tom Heffer Director of Golf to play and review.
I will get to the features and benefits of playing these two remarkable golf courses shortly, but this golf review trip has to include how blessed we feel having met some of the friendliest and kindest people who live here in Hot Springs Village.
As regular travelers we like to stay in small cottages, carriage houses or suites that are privately owned. As I take care of all the golf planning, Myra takes on the task of researching and booking us into really cozy accommodations. Our four nights here in Hot Springs Village has us staying in a lovely little suite overlooking the fifth fairway of the Ponce de Leon golf course. You would be hard-pressed to find a friendlier couple than Susan and Jack who own the house. We honestly feel like we have made friends that we hope to see again in the near future. Susan and Jack have not only accommodated us in every way you could imagine, but also included us in one of their social nights at a casual beer and barbeque mini car show event that they are part of every Thursday with the Village Cruisers.
The couples that hang out over at Gasoline Alley, some showing off their various hot rods and collectable cars, were as warm hearted as you could hope to meet. It didn’t stop there as the next morning I felt like a VIP as Jack introduced to an amazingly talented and gracious man named Leland Kew, who showed me around a private car museum he is part of called Holly Classics
The hour and 15 minutes spent there zipped by and if it wasn’t for a morning tee time that Myra and I had I probably would’ve brought her along and spent most of the day with this 90-year-old marvel of a gentleman.
Now to that tee time and our day at Granada golf course.
One of eight golf courses in Hot Springs Village accessible to the public, Granada is as rewarding a golf course as you could want to play globally.
One of the features of going into the town of Hot Springs is to consume some of this famous therapeutic water. Many of the pamphlets you will read state “If it doesn’t fix your ailments it will at least make you feel better”. I’ve always had a very strong belief that people who feel good tend to treat other people very nicely. Well, everybody we have met here must be “quaffing the elixir” regularly because the level of friendliness here was top notch.
It certainly was exhibited by every person we have met involved with this golf course oasis. We were warmly greeted by Leanna in the pro shop at Granada. The previous day we had popped into the pro shop just to get a scorecard and we met Grady who not only gave us some valuable tips about our following day at Granada, but I think he would’ve had us over for dinner if we didn’t have plans already.
Everything about playing golf at Granada oozes simplicity and warmth.
Once you have checked in you go over to the cart storage and grab whatever cart you want, the key is on the seat, you go to your vehicle load up your clubs, really easy, real smooth.
After a warm-up session including hitting balls on a very accommodating driving range then some bunker practice, chipping and practice putting we met another friendly southerner, Jackie the starter. Again nice and simple and friendly a few tips about where not to go on your cart and keeping up a pace of play and that was it.
She happily took a picture of us posing on the first tee and sent us on our way.
I feel quite confident in saying that when I look down the first fairway of a golf course I pretty well know what lays ahead. Standing on the first tee, driver in hand, I said to Myra before striping it down the middle “Hon, this is going to be one really, really nice course to play”.
Most of the readers know I don’t get into hole by hole descriptions and how to play the course. What I do is describe the experience on the day and this experience rates a gold medal.
The course rewards good shots and moderately punishes bad ones. It has enormously wide landing areas off the tee boxes to fairways that are in great shape. The greens held shots that I flew in from upward of 200 yards and the bunker configurations were very pleasing to the eye and well positioned.
The surrounding landscape is beautiful with numerous varieties of trees framing the holes and the golf course itself. Off the fairways there are many holes with side hill lies and if you aren’t used to Bermuda grass you soon appreciate those players that play it well. As we hadn’t played in about 10 days and it was Myra’s first attempt at Bermuda grass golf, she used it as a practice round and opted not to keep score. I on the other hand having played many rounds of golf on Bermuda in the southern US did keep score. Bar a couple of bad miss-hits on two of the par 3’s I faired pretty well with 12 pars and a birdie for a solid 41 front 39 back 80 total.
As you can see by these photographs and really we could’ve shown photographs of every hole on the course as it’s a treat to play.
We finished and shared thank you’s with Rex in the pro shop, he too must drink a lot of the “happy water ” and headed away totally gratified with a golf day beyond compare. Four hours on the button, slightly overcast windless 75-degree weather. Go to their website golfers, pick a few or all 8 of the courses here at Hot Springs Village and make this a must play destination.
Oh, and y’all drink the water.