Jim Harris: Stephens' Alotian Club Will Be In Full View In 2013 With Prestigious Western Amateur

by Jim Harris  on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 3:30 pm  

Warren Stephens' Alotian Club in Little Rock will be in full view when hosting the 2013 Western Amateur. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Tracy, who has played Alotian on two occasions with his teammates on the University of Arkansas golf team, said he's certain that Alotian in mid-summer will have "rough that is murder, greens that are pure and pins that are hard to reach."

One reason the Western Golf Association and its Western Amateur appealed to Warren Stephens, he said Wednesday, was due to the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship Program, in which the WGA provides full college scholarships to caddies around the country. The Alotian Club is the only club in the state that is among the 400 clubs that support the WGA and the program. Two former Alotian high school age caddies have received Chick Evans scholarships; 825 caddies from clubs around the country are attending college on the scholarship, and the Evans Alumni around the country number 9,400. Most scholars attend one of the 14 universities where the Evans Foundation owns and operates a Scholarship House. The program is funded by more than 100,000 golfers around the nation, along with Evans Alumni and proceeds from the BMW Championship, a PGA Tour FedEx Cup event.

Vince Pellegrino, who represented the Western Golf Association at Wednesday's announcement, said the Alotian's Club involvement in the Chick Evans Scholarship Program led to conversations about the club playing host to a Western Amateur. While both Stephens and Pellegrino acknowledged that late July is not the most favorable time for golf in the Little Rock area due to heat, Pellegrino joked, "We've put out a request for cooler weather at that time."

Stephens said, "We'll do what we have to do" to make the playing conditions up to tournament standards. The Alotian has top-of-the-line bent grass on its greens and a heating and cooling system below the playing surface to help manage the greens in a variety of conditions.

For the past three years, the Western Amateur has rotated among four Chicago-area clubs, including 2012's event slated for Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, after spending 38 years at Point O'Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich.

The Alotian Club will be the highest 2011-12 Golf Digest-ranked club to ever host the event, while some of the greater U.S. courses in the past 100-plus years also have played host to the event: Pinehurst (the No. 2 course is 37th for 2011-12), Bellerive CC in St. Louis, Chicago Golf Club (currently ranked 17th by Golf Digest), Detroit Golf Club, the old Memphis Country Club where Bobby Jones was medalist in 1920, to name but a few. Maybe the second most-famous amateur name behind Jones, 1913 U.S. Open winner Francis Ouimet, won the Western Am in 1917 at Midlothian in Blue Island, Ill.

And Chicago's Charles "Chick" Evans, whose scholarship bears his name, literally owned this tournament for a while; he won eight times, starting in 1909 and ending with the 1923 title.

The big winners in this are Central Arkansas' golfers, the ones who haven't played Alotian or seen the course in person. Now, they'll be able to see some of the most skilled golfers in the world tackling a world-class course built right here.

The incomparable Pine Valley, as exclusive a club as Alotian and Augusta National Golf Course, lets the public through its gates and up its tiny road for one weekend to see the annual Crump Cup. Warren Stephens has found the perfect event to show off his and Tom Fazio's creation and to bring great attention to golf in Arkansas.



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