Humidity, rolling fog, a 7:30 a.m. start time and even a raging cold couldn’t stop Tiger Woods from enthralling a gallery of about 250 at a private clinic held Tuesday morning at Warren Stephens’ exclusive Alotian Club golf course.
Woods was in Little Rock as part of the inaugural Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Golf Tournament, which was expected to raise as much as $1 million for five Arkansas entities.
With an exclusive tournament set to tee off following the clinic, a gallery of golfers and select students from The First Tee and Episcopal Collegiate School watched Woods talk candidly about different aspects of his game and personal experiences, all the while barraging the pristine driving range with his monster drives and artful approach shots.
“Oh, sorry about that one,” said Woods as he miss-hit one demo. “You have to be honest with yourself when that happens. If I lie to myself, I can’t improve my game.”
Woods set the tone upon arrival when he offered spectators watching from a grandstand to come down and sit closer to the driving range.
“Let’s go ahead and make this real intimate,” he said.
Indeed he did, as he openly took questions from onlookers at any time during his 40-minute session.
There were Arkansas-related questions, as expected, including a quest for details about Woods’ round of golf with former President Bill Clinton.
“He does interesting math,” joked Woods, drawing a wave of laughter. “After putting one in the bushes and picking up a ‘gimme’ putt from six feet out … he had a three and I had a four.”
Fighting a cold, Woods was expected to play only a few holes at Tuesday’s tournament at Alotian before jetting out of town.
Warren Stephens, chairman, president and CEO of Little Rock’s Stephens Inc., opened The Alotian Club in 2004. Built and paid for by Stephens himself, the golf course has an estimated price tag of nearly $18 million. Membership is said to be limited to about 100 of the financier’s closest friends and business associates.
The five charities benefiting from the invitation-only event were The First Tee chapters of Little Rock and Fort Smith, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at Little Rock, the Arkansas Arts Center, and Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock.