Golf

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Entry Category: Golf

Barber, Miller Westford Jr.

Miller Barber was a successful professional golfer who played on both the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour and the Senior Tour. While perhaps best known for his unorthodox swing, he had many accomplishments, including multiple tournament victories on both tours while accumulating over $5.6 million in career earnings. He was a graduate of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. Miller Westford Barber Jr. was born on March 31, 1931, in Shreveport, Louisiana, to Miller Westford Barber and Susie Mae Lawrence Barber. He grew up in Texarkana, Texas, living with his mother, who ran a grocery store. He began playing golf when he was around eleven …

Bolt, Tommy

Tommy Bolt was one of the top golfers on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour in the 1950s. The winner of the 1958 U.S. Open, he was also a pioneer in the development of the PGA’s senior tour that emerged in the 1960s. He later retired and settled in Arkansas. Thomas Henry (Tommy) Bolt was born on March 31, 1916, in Haworth, Oklahoma, to Walker Jeter Bolt and Adreon Geneva Jones Bolt. Little is known about Bolt’s youth beyond the fact that his mother died when he was two. With his father working in construction, the family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, when Bolt was six. Bolt dropped out of Byrd High School as a sophomore, and like many professional golfers, …

Daly, John Patrick

John Patrick Daly has been a professional golfer on the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour since 1990, having stunned the golf world by winning the PGA Championship as a rookie. He owns a golf course in his hometown of Dardanelle (Yell County), and he is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. John Daly was born the youngest of three children on April 28, 1966, in Carmichael, California, to Jim Daly, a construction worker on nuclear power facilities, and Lou Daly. Daly’s family moved to Dardanelle when he was five because his father took a job at Nuclear One in Russellville (Pope County), and he began playing golf soon after. The family moved several times as his father …

Fair Park Golf Course

aka: War Memorial Golf Course
The Fair Park Golf Course (also known as War Memorial Golf Course) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is an eighteen-hole executive course that sits on ninety acres of the 200-acre War Memorial Park, covering almost the entirety of the park west of Fair Park Boulevard. The course was always part of the plan for what was originally called Fair Park, conceived at a time when the game of golf was experiencing its “golden age” during the 1920s. Although it was closed in 2019, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 16, 2020. Built by the city as its first municipal golf course, the course was the only public venue for golf in the city when …

Fleck, Jack

Jack Donald Fleck had one of most improbable victories in golf history with his 1955 U.S. Open playoff victory over perennial golfing great Ben Hogan, an established star on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour who had previously won four U.S. Opens. Fleck was an unknown who had been playing regularly on the PGA Tour for less than a year when he recorded his historic victory. Fleck moved to Arkansas in 1988, opening the Lil’ Bit a Heaven Golf Club in 1992. Jack Fleck was born on November 7, 1921, on the outskirts of Bettendorf, Iowa, one of five children of Louis and Elsie Fleck. He grew up in a poor family, working odd jobs around farms, with his salary …

Golf

Golf’s popularity in the state of Arkansas can be measured by the sport’s rich history in the state, the state’s numerous golf courses, and a number of regular collegiate, amateur, and professional tournaments. Along with several famous men and women golfers from Arkansas, the state also boasts the Natural State Golf Trail and numerous clubs and organizations devoted to the sport. Today, golf is an individual sport played with a variety of metal or graphite clubs and a single ball composed usually of urethane. The goal is to hit the ball with a club into a hole in the fewest number of strokes. Golf holes and courses stipulate “par,” or the number of strokes a first-class player should normally require. …

Greens at North Hills

aka: Sylvan Hills Country Club Golf Course
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, the Greens at North Hills in Sherwood (Pulaski County) was originally named Sylvan Hills Country Club and was built in the Sylvan Hills community along the North Heights Highway (also known at times as the Ark-Mo Highway, AR Highway 5, and AR Highway 107) in 1926. The country club was envisioned and built by real estate developer Justin Matthews Sr. to provide recreational opportunities for residents living in his new Park Hill subdivision in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), as well as residents of his planned community of Sylvan Hills, located at present-day Loop, Kellogg, Johnson, and Miller roads. In 1927, Justin Matthews Sr. and his wife, Agnes, transferred their …

Mock, Lucy Byrd

Lucy Byrd Mock, a native of Prairie Grove (Washington County), set numerous records as a golfer, established two national World War I–era women’s organizations, and was a noted author, journalist, poet, and publisher. Lucy Byrd Mock was born in Prairie Grove on February 23, 1876, the second of James Mock and Amanda Patton Mock’s six children. She was a student at the Methodist Academy in Prairie Grove until 1890, when she was admitted to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) as a fourteen-year-old sophomore. After completing the spring semester in 1893, she spent part of her summer break on a trip overseas to Great Britain, where she learned to play golf. Mock enjoyed the game so much …

Natural State Golf Trail

The Natural State Golf Trail is a public-private partnership created to showcase the scenic golf courses of the state. The trail consists of twelve courses in eleven different locations across the Arkansas. First discussed in the early 2000s, the Natural State Golf Trail came about due to the efforts of Lang Zimmerman, a co-founder and managing partner of Big Creek Golf and Country Club in Mountain Home (Baxter County), and because of the interest of Mike Beebe, then serving as an Arkansas state senator. Beebe suggested the possibility of a statewide golf trail to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and with the help of Jim Shamburger— a commissioner on the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission and …

Runyan, Paul

Paul Runyan is a household name in Arkansas golf history. He won the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Championship twice, in 1934 and 1938. At the diminutive size of 5’7″ and 125 pounds, Runyan earned the nickname “Little Poison” both because of his stature and because of his style of play—producing only short drives but relying on tremendously accurate freeway wood play. Paul Scott Runyan was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on July 12, 1908, to Walter and Mamie Runyan; he had an older brother, Dixon. His father was a farmer who also worked at the Majestic Hotel across the street from Hot Springs Country Club. Despite numerous chores, Runyan escaped to the golf course, where he made money caddying …

Stephens, Jackson Thomas

Jackson Thomas Stephens was one of the most successful, high-profile business figures in Arkansas during the twentieth century, joining his older brother Wilton R. “Witt” Stephens in building Stephens Inc. of Little Rock (Pulaski County) into one of the nation’s largest brokerage firms. Stephens also became a well-known philanthropist, supporting institutions ranging from the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Jack Stephens was born on August 9, 1923, in Prattsville (Grant County), the youngest of the six children of A. J. Stephens and Ethel Pumphrey Stephens. A. J. Stephens was a farmer and a politician who served two terms in the state …