Alotian Club Hears the Call, Hosts Arnold Palmer Cup

When the event is named after you, you can pretty much decide where you want it held.

Stephens Inc. President and CEO Warren Stephens officially announced Wednesday that the Arnold Palmer Cup — a top international golf event for collegiate level male and female players — will be held at The Alotian Club in Roland on June 7-9.

Stephens made the announcement at a news conference in the Alotian clubhouse, with the Arnold Palmer Cup trophy sitting nearby, following a short video highlighting the course consistently ranked among the best in the nation.

“It’s a very young club and for us to host the Palmer Cup and a few years ago to host the Western [Amateur] is a compliment to us,” Stephens said of the course and club he opened in 2004.

The selection of Alotian as the site of the 23rd Arnold Palmer Cup has been known since 2016, after Palmer himself called Stephens with the request. Making the official announcement on Wednesday, Stephens said the phone call clinched a deal that until then had only been in the talking stages.

“I was dragging my feet a little bit honestly,” Stephens said. “My response was, ‘Yes sir, we’re going to host the Palmer Cup.’”

Jon Podany, of the Arnold and Winnie Palmer Foundation, said it was the last business call Palmer made before his death on Sept. 25, 2016.

“I thought to myself, ‘Thank God I said yes right there on the phone,’” Stephens said.

Stephens and his late father Jack Stephens have had a notable connection to the world of golf and have crossed paths with some of the sport’s highest profile figures. That includes Palmer, who, with Phil Mickelson, came to Alotian for the Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Golf Tournament in 2009.

From 1991-1998, Jack Stephens was chairman of Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club, home of the prestigious Masters Tournament that Palmer won four times, and Warren Stephens is a member.

“I know that Arnold Palmer had a special relationship with you, Warren, and your family,” Podany said.

The Arnold Palmer Cup  is a Ryder Cup-style, team event that, counting coaches and players, is expected to represent six continents and 20 countries at Alotian. The format pits a 12-member U.S. team against an international squad, each chosen from a roster of 24, and has the unique feature of teaming males and females.

“We haven’t done as good a job as we’re doing now and we’re going to do in the future of promoting women’s golf,” Stephens said.

Arkansas women’s standout, senior Dylan Kim, and men’s player Mariel Galdiano of UCLA are returnees from last year’s victorious U.S. team. The U.S. leads the overall event series 12-9-1.

Palmer, who won 93 titles and seven major championships, lent his name to the cup after he was approached by the Golf Coaches Association of America who were organizing a competition between the U.S., Great Britain and Ireland.

The first Palmer Cup was held at Palmer’s own Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Florida in 1997.

There have been 122 Arnold Palmer Cup players to go on to the PGA, European or LPGA tours.

When the Tom Fazio-designed Alotian Club opened, it swiftly took its place among the more notable courses in the United States. Consistently ranked among the top 100 courses by Golf Digest, the 7,500-yard, par-72 course is at No. 31 this year.

The course, site of the 2013 Western Amateur, takes it place among previous Palmer Cup sites like St. Andrews, Scotland; Ballybunion, Ireland; Cherry Hills, Colorado, and last year’s site, the Evian Resort Golf Club in southeastern France.

Tickets for the entire, two-day Palmer Cup will be $50 and will be transferable, Stephens said. The Alotian Club is looking for volunteers as well as caddies, who must be 14-19 years old.

“We are passionate about amateur golf at Alotian,” Stephens said. “It’s something my dad instilled in me.”