Maybe I should tee it up blindfolded.
That was my thought after playing Stonebridge Meadows Golf Club’s first six holes in even par in chowder-thick fog, then finishing the front side in three over once I could see.
The fog was so dense I mistakenly turned into a horse farm’s driveway instead of the invisible Fayetteville, Ark., course just ahead and to the left. I learned this from a farmhand who nearly crashed into the rear of my rental. In fact, after being the site of a Civil War hospital, the course’s land was once a thoroughbred horse farm that trained several award-winning horses, including Nodouble.
Upon arrival at the Randy Heckenkemper-designed Stonebridge Meadows, I was immediately sent first off the tee as a single, surprising considering I couldn’t even see the first tee. The cart contained an invaluable course map booklet for guidance — provided I could locate the cart, that is. After hitting my opening drive, a small light advanced toward me. Thankfully the man on the mower led me to where he saw my drive finish.
The highlight of my fog-shrouded start was the 185-yard third hole, which, according to the map, was guarded by water all the way down its right side. After checking my map, I lined up to where I thought the green was located based on the tee boxes’ alignment and fired away. I heard a faint thud, not a splash. Good sign, I figured. When I was 10 feet from the flagstick I spotted the ball, two inches from the hole. Talk about blind luck.
The fog slowly began to lift as I stepped to the tee at the 225-yard sixth. I barely saw my tee shot finish on the front of the putting surface — 60 feet from the flagstick, which I found after a short search. I heard the putt drop into the hole for birdie. I finished 3 under for the round on the par 3s — the first and probably last time I’ll accomplish that feat.
Afterwards, I drove the first six holes to witness what I had missed. The 7,150-yard, par-72 course features some of the finest views in Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. The course — which opened in 1997 — winds through curving valleys, and stands of pine and oak trees, and features generous fairways, subtly contoured, quick greens, strategic bunkering and elevation changes.
Stonebridge Meadows has also hosted many big events, including qualifiers for the U.S. Amateur, Nationwide Tour and 2012 U.S. Public Links. Now even I can see why.
The Lowdown: Stonebridge Meadows Golf Club
Stonebridge Meadows Golf Club, Fayetteville, Ark.
Rates: $39-$55 (includes cart)
Packages: Visit http://stonebridgemeadows.com/golf/runtime/specials_login.php or call 479-571-3674