Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great Golf and Horse Racing In Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas, became America’s first resort city (in the mid-nineteenth century) because of the natural thermal springs that provide warm water for its healthful and soothing baths. But tourists can only spend a part of each day “taking the waters,” so it was not long before other diversions began to take root. Golf had become a popular sport in America and the Hot Springs Country Club was established in 1898 as a semiprivate Club offering membership privileges to the local residents, as well as providing golfing opportunities for the out-of-town visitors.

Nestled in the Ouachita foothills and surrounded by neighboring lakes and national parks, the Hot Springs Country Club continues to operate with those same Southern traditions of service. With 36 holes of golf available, the Club offers a wide variety of golfing experiences. The Arlington course has recently been reworked and restored by Master's Champion Ben Crenshaw, with Bentgrass greens and a restoration of its original classic design. Steep and narrow Bermuda fairways through rolling hills make this course a true challenge for any golfer.

The Park course, a bit more open than the Arlington, offers its own sandy and watery challenges. It also was recently renovated by Coore and Crenshaw. It is a little longer than its sister course at 6,836 yards and also offers new Bentgrass greens for year-round play.

Located only three and a half miles from downtown Hot Springs on Highway 7 north, Belvedere Golf Club (a public course) is an inviting destination for golfers at all levels of play.

Its a beautiful and scenic 18-hole championship golf course spread over 135 acres surrounded by the Ouachita Mountain range, neighboring lakes and the national park. Belvedere has bent grass greens and Bermuda fairway. Designed by Herman Hackbarth in 1949, it remains one of Arkansas top ten courses. Hackbarth designed more than 40 courses and was voted into the ASGA Hall of Fame in 1994.

Belvedere Golf Club is open six days a week with a restaurant grill and full service bar. A driving range is provided, along with a putting green and electric golf carts. There are golf packages available at several hotels in the Hot Springs area.

Golfing was not enough of a diversion and horse racing (and wagering) came to Hot Springs early in the new century, On February 24, 1905, Oaklawn Race Course presented its first racing card before a crowd of 3,000 that turned out after Hot Springs Mayor John Belding declared a half-day holiday for the city. The first race at the new track was won by Duelist, owned by John W. Schorr, a prominent Memphis sportsman. Since then, Oaklawn has evolved into one of the premier race meets in the country.

Best known as the home of the Racing Festival of the South and Arkansas Derby, the track has played host to some of the biggest names in the sport including champions Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Lookin At Lucky, Blind Luck and Zenyatta who won the 2010 Apple Blossom Handicap and Horse of the Year honors. Winners of the Arkansas Derby (for three year olds) regularly go on to compete at the Kentucky Derby and other Triple Crown races, The Oaklawn racing season extends from mid-January to mid-April with the Arkansas Derby the final race of the season.

Today Oaklawn also offers wagering on television simulcasts of races around country and a casino with electronic slots and table games. Its open daily year round.

To learn more about attractions in Hot Springs

James Weaver
Sr. Travel Writer
GolfWiz Blog


  1. That is a humble beginning for this grand place. Good thing they availed of the ranch and a golf course for added attractions. It's cool to see horses racing while taking a soothing bath. :)

  2. I read some good reviews about this place and I hope that one day I could go there and visit it personally. The attractions is one of the reasons why I like to visit the place...

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  3. New web site is looking good. Thanks for the great effort. horse racing