El Dorado, Arkansas is not a town you’re likely to come across out of the blue. During the 1920s, El Dorado was at the heart of the oil boom in south Arkansas and became known as “Arkansas’s Original Boomtown.” On Jan. 10, 1921, the Busey No. 1 well was completed about a mile west of town which led to an explosion in population and prosperity. If you find yourself in town with a few hours to kill, take a self-guided tour of El Dorado’s downtown – which was voted America’s Best Downtown in 2009 – and you will see all of the beautifully renovated 1930s style buildings, many of which are on the National Register. The Union County Courthouse which was built in 1928 and lays testament to this.
El Dorado is the corporate home of Murphy USA; if you’ve ever purchased gas at a Walmart, odds are you’ve done business with them. The company has invested heavily in the community including the Murphy Arts District and the award-winning Historic downtown area.
El Dorado is also home to one of the nicest golf courses in the state and not surprisingly, it is owned by Murphy USA. Mystic Creek Golf Club opened in May of 2013 and was carved into the rolling timberlands that surround the town. The course was designed by Ken Dye who, oddly enough, is no relation to Pete. Ground was broken in 2001 and, after a series of misadventures, was finally completed in 2012. As you make your way around the course you’ll find tall cathedral pines as you’d find at several courses around Augusta, high flashing bunkers styles similar to those on an A.W Tillinghast layout, and domed greens with runoffs similar to Pinehurst #2. Tee boxes, fairways, and greens grassed in Champion Bermuda are as beautiful to look at as they are fun to play on.
Mystic Creek is a semi-private golf course and although many players will tell you it’s a tough course, it provides an unforgettable experience for golfers of all skill levels as long as you play from the tees that best suit your game. Memberships are available as are homes and homesites within the Mystic Creek community.
Mystic Creek is not without its fair share of accolades: GolfWeek Magazine has put it at the top of its “Best You Can Play List,” and was recognized as one of the ‘Best New Courses’ by Golf Digest shortly after opening. They’ve also played host annually to the Symetra Tour’s “El Dorado Shootout” and several NCAA Golf Championships. Mystic Creek is managed by Honours Golf, a division of Troon, so you know it’s always going to be in prime condition. Mystic Creek is a stunning piece of property and features wide-open fairways, spectacular bunkering around the greens, and greens PGA TOUR players would be proud to play on.
Member’s Favorite: Number 14, Par 5, 493 yards. This is both the most challenging and most photographed hole on the golf course. The left side is framed by a creek and native grasses while a group of fairway bunkers catches any errant shots hit down the right. With the tees forward and a good drive, the green can be reached in two. A more conservative play is to play your second shot short of the greenside bunker on the left and leave yourself a short pitch shot into the green. That’s where things get interesting. The green is small and severely sloped from left to right. A pin located on the back shelf can be especially tricky and if you find the deep greenside bunkers, par can be tough. When the rough is cut down, it’s not uncommon for balls to roll off the green and come to rest near the creek at the bottom of the hill. Take a par and run!
Assistant Pro Casey Wroot’s Favorite Hole: Number 4: Par 3, 172 yards. For a guy that can hit the ball a long way, it’s interesting that Casey’s favorite is a par 3. Although it’s the second-longest par 3 on the layout, it plays downhill and slightly shorter. Water surrounds the left and backside of the green and there are bunkers left side, front and back right. The ridge that divides the green is similar to the 16th hole at Augusta without the slope.
My Favorite Hole: Number 18: Par 5, 489 yards. A well-played drive down the left-center of the fairway will present you with a choice to either layup to the right side of the severely sloped fairway or go for the green in two. There’s a strand of pine trees on the right and a fairway bunker left that catches anything pulled. If you choose to go for it, you’ll need to avoid several bunkers and collection areas that guard the green. There are three distinct tiers to the green, so you’ll need a good approach shot to have a chance at birdie or better.
Most Challenging Hole: Number 3, Par 4, 402 yards. According to the scorecard, this is the toughest hole on the course and one of the longest par 4s. Water flows all the way down the left side to the green and the double bend in the fairway puts a premium on accuracy. The conservative tee shot is down the right side but that will leave a long iron or hybrid into the green. A successful tee shot that challenges the water will leave a much shorter iron on approach. The green is one of Mystic Creek’s largest and the deep bunker on the right side sees its fair share of play. Par is a good score here.
For visitors to the area, Mystic Creek offers some great Stay & Play packages through Troon Golf Vacations. Packages include 2 night’s accommodations, 2 rounds of golf, and two days of car rental from Avis.
Mystic Creek offers a variety of memberships for singles, families, and juniors. If you prefer walking, you can purchase a membership without a cart and save some money. Memberships include all greens fees, cart fees (if applicable), and use of all practice facilities. As a member, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of being a member of a Troon facility, with access to Troon facilities worldwide. For more information, visit them online.
If you live in the El Dorado area and are considering membership at a club, take a look at Mystic Creek. In addition to one of the State’s best golf facilities, they’ll soon have a brand new clubhouse and restaurant which are slated to open in 2021. Mystic Creek offers a variety of memberships, with and with golf carts included. For more information on memberships and to track the progress of the new clubhouse visit the Mystic Creek website at www.mysticcreekgolf.com.