Arkansas Natural State BBQ Golf Trail

Mountain Home - Alma - Glenwood - Pine Bluff - Hot Springs - Fairfield Bay - Herber Springs - Jonesboro - Fayetteville - Drasco - Blytheville

www.naturalstategolftrail.com

Fat Guy Note :  Despite some forgettable course names, Arkansas' Natural State Golf Trail is a road-tripper's paradise and a great value.  Most greens fees on the trail are within 10 scheckles of the $50 mark for weekend prime time with cart.  Combine your golf with a tour of Arkansas' best BBQ joints, and you're in for a memorable buddy trip.

Following the Natural State Golf Trail:  "With 11 courses at 10 locations, The Natural State Golf Trail provides the perfect path for you to follow your passion for the game, while experiencing the many pleasures available in Arkansas. Play through rolling hills, hardwood forests, towering pines, grand prairies and fertile deltas or alongside tranquil rivers, crisp mountain lakes, and pristine streams. And when you are not on the links, you can fish our famous streams, relax in a luxurious spa, shop for hidden treasures, explore American history and savor the authentic flavors of the South."

Where To Play & Eat BBQ :

Big Creek Golf & Country Club
Mountain Home, Arkansas

Golf Digest rated Big Creek at 5 stars, saying, "Golf at its absolute best. Pay any price at least once in your life." Also rated fifth in the USA in “Service” and eighth in “Top Courses in Conditioning” by Golf Digest's “Places to Play.” Big Creek, designed by Ault, Clark & Associates, sprawls over 200 acres featuring four lakes, the namesake creek, white sand bunkers, lush zoysia fairways and bent grass greens. Only one-and-a-half hours from Branson, Missouri, Mountain Home also offers world-record trout fishing on the North Fork and White rivers and other water sports on Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes.

For barbeque nearby, head for local's secret Al B.'s BBQ. Order the pulled pork or the kielbasi platter.

Eagle Crest Golf Course
Alma, Arkansas

After opening in the spring of 1997, Eagle Crest Golf Course quickly established itself as one of the premier golf courses in Arkansas. With perfect zoysia fairways, great greens and one spectacular view after another. Designed by multiple tour event winner Mark Hayes.

For some 'que, locals dig Cunningham's ... "Mighty good."

Harbor Oaks Golf Club
Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Voted one of the top 10 public courses in Arkansas. Tifton Bermuda fairways and mini verde greens with water on seven holes. After your round, stay and enjoy the stunning views of the 9th and 18th greens from the award-winning restaurant and lounge. Other nearby attractions include The Delta Rivers Nature Center , The Arkansas Railroad Museum , The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas , The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame , and seasonal festivals and concerts.

Hot Springs Country Club
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs Country Club features two 18-hole courses: Arlington and Park. The challenging Arlington course rambles over 6,690 yards of the Ouachita foothills. Built in 1927 by William Diddel and renovated by two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and his partner Bill Coore in 1994, the course features a series of undulating bent grass greens and steep, narrow Bermuda fairways. The Park course was constructed by Willie Parks, Jr. Extensive renovation by Coore and Crenshaw completed in 2008 provided for 6,852 yards of lush fairways, watery challenges and breathtaking vistas of surrounding lakes and mountains.

Local McClard's BBQ ( www.mcclards.com ) justifiably gets all the press around here as Bill Clinton's fave.  For something a little more off the beaten path, head for Roland's Bar-B-Que Company (200 Higdon Ferry Rd, www.rolandsbbq.com ), who serves up some great Texas-style BBQ.

Mountain Ranch Golf Club
Fairfield Bay, Arkansas

Designed by Edmund B. Ault, Ltd., this par 72 layout features some of the most spectacular scenery in the Ozark Mountains. The front nine provides a gentle, sloping introduction to the course, after which the back nine exacts precision and strategy to navigate a splendid, yet dangerous, string of holes.

Sage Meadows
Jonesboro, Arkansas

A Tommy Bolt Signature Course, Sage Meadows offers an outstanding test of golf on a beautiful rolling site of hills, streams, ponds and mature hardwood trees.

Grab some good ol' BBQ at Demo's Barbeque & Smokehouse .  Order the ribs or the "Big Chop", and the baked beans.

Stonebridge Meadows
Fayetteville, Arkansas

This energetic layout by architect Randy Heckenkemper delights golfers of all abilities. Rated four-and-a-half stars by Golf Digest's “Places to Play” in 2004, 2008 and 2009.

Fayetteville is home of the University of Arkansas, and when Fayettevillians aren't cheering for the Razorbacks, they're eating them.  Fayetteville was named one of the Top 10 Cities in the U.S. for BBQ by Livability.com, with upwards of 14 'que joints in town.  These four are usually mentioned among the best:

Sassy's Red House : This place is all about the sauce and for good reason. Their original sauce was developed by owner Sassy Jones' grandfather, Jasper, in 1895. Today Sassy's serves up a whopping selection of sauces to slap on their dry ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken.

Lucky Luke's BBQ : All of the meats are hickory smoked, and the portions here are out of control. Customers rave not only about the 'cue, but also the fried pickles and jalapenos.

Penguin Ed's : This just might be the most popular restaurant in town. There are actually three locations in Fayetteville, each serving hickory-smoked meats. Ed's also has a great story. Ed started selling barbecue from a trailer in 1993. For some reason, he created a flock of paper-mache penguins and put them around the trailer. The name Penguin Ed stuck, and sales took off.

Whole Hog Cafe : This Arkansas chain has a location on North College Ave. It's three founders have taken top honors at three Memphis-in-May World Barbecue Championships. They serve up succulent pulled pork, brisket and ribs. President Bill Clinton is a fan.

Tannenbaum Golf Club
Drasco, Arkansas

Nestled in the strikingly beautiful setting of the Ozark Mountains on the shores of enchanting Greers Ferry Lake, Tannenbaum is one of the most breathtaking courses in Arkansas. This course offers an enjoyable, yet challenging, experience for all levels of golfers.

Thunder Bayou Golf Links
Blytheville, Arkansas

A true links-style course, Thunder Bayou has been ranked by Golf Digest as one of the “100 Best New Courses” and one of the top public courses in the state. This 18-hole championship course features five sets of tees, water on seven holes and more than 80 bunkers.

Get your 'que on at the quintessentially Southern-named Dixie Pig (701 N 6th St).

Where To Stay: One of the courses on the trail, the Red Apple Inn & Country Club in Herber Springs, has an Inn that features 57 rooms, 2 restaurants, 2 outdoor pools, tennis courts, a steam room, and a hot tub for those sore golfing muscles.  The golf course was nominated by Golf Digest as one of "America's 50 Most Scenic Golf Courses." Their golf packages includes rounds at nearby Tannenbaum, and Eagle Mountain , a challenging but fair layout routed near the famed White River.  For BBQ, head for the Spunky Pig in Herber Springs ).

Red Apple CC

Or head for Hot Springs and crash at the Glenwood Lodge , part of the quirky Glenwood Country Club and just miles from the Hot Springs, for some old-fashioned hospitality.

For upscale digs near Hot Springs, stay at The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa ( www.arlingtonhotel.com ).