Fifty years ago a group of far-sighted local citizens from Franklin and Logan counties got together to do something that had never been attempted in the area — they started what would become the first modern golf course in this part of the state – Little Creek Country Club.
The course served the communities of Paris, Booneville, Ozark, and Charleston.
In 1964 “Very few people in the area had actually played golf at the time,” said Jack Newhart, one of the early members of the club.
The yearly fee for membership was $100.
Little Creek was built on a former farm site just off Highway 22 in Ratcliff that, today, is one of the most scenic spots in western Arkansas. The course’s namesake, Little Creek, flows through the property. Golfers can see Mount Magazine to the east.
Just across the highway to the north is St. Anthony’s Catholic Church built in 1903 and on the National Registry of Historic Places. Inside the clubhouse, visitors can see a mural by a former artist for Walt Disney, Roy Burkett. He designed toys for the Wolverine Toy factory in Booneville and was a longtime member of the club until his death.
On any given day, golfers may see a menagerie of the kinds of wildlife the area has to offer, including wild turkey, groundhogs, beavers, muskrat, deer and coyotes. Newhart said bear have even been known to wander through the course.
Over the years, Little Creek hosted a future president, Bill Clinton for tournaments. U.S. Senator and Arkansas Governor, Dale Bumpers, was one of the early members, as was Federal Judge Paul X Williams.
The par-72 course is nine holes, but has front and back nines with tee boxes in different locations. In the 1960’s, the course also included an Olympic-size pool — “one of the best in the area,” claims Newhart — and a tennis court, but today the focus is 100 percent on golf.
In August, Little Creek will have its 50th anniversary celebration. The festivities will include a dinner and social on Friday, Aug. 8, which will include a historical display of Little Creek. There will also be a two-person four-ball shootout starting at 5:30 p.m. for $10 per person.
Saturday, Aug. 9, will be the start of the 2014 Little Creek Invitational Four-ball tournament (two-person) with morning and afternoon tee times. The cost is $60 per person. There will a social and calcutta Saturday night after play. Sunday, Aug. 10, the tournament will be completed and a lunch will be served at noon.
Please call Little Creek Recreation Club at 479-635-5551 for details about the celebration, as well as for information about becoming a member of the club.