Several years ago I was a member of a group known as Leadership Logan County and, for the governmental portion of our curriculum we spent an evening in the capitol then hit several government sites throughout a Friday.
Whether I can tell you a single thing I learned on that trip or not is debatable but I remember well the trip home. On part dare, part pure goofy antics, our driver pulls in at the Alotian Club.
Of course we’re met at the gate but Fred is on a roll. By the way Fred is the name I gave a certain former elementary school principal when I thought he was introduced as Dryer.
Like I said Fred is laying it on thick about why we need to be admitted to the golf club that is so exclusive private hardly covers it. Of course the guards were not amused – I didn’t see weapons, but wasn’t so sure there weren’t any – we were told to turn around and be on our way.
I thought of that incident when I read last week that for $100 I can go through those gates the week of July 29 through Aug. 4 to watch the Western Amateur Open. Maybe that has been the case in the past and it didn’t register with me.
I am not completely golf-illiterate but, other than a few holes during my class reunion, I haven’t been on a course for anything non-work related since the two girls who refer to me as Daddy, so getting through the Alotian gate wasn’t really that big of a deal to me.
Still, last week I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the news about the Warren Stephens built course. Especially since the $100 badge is transferable, meaning that with the same badge I could go one day, you could go one day, heck, even Fred could go one day, he’s not that far away from west Little Rock these days.
According to the piece I read about the limited – of course – number of badges available outside the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur the invitation-only Western Open at the Alotian is the most "prestigious event in the world."
With Golf Digest ranking the Alotian as the 14th best course in the country, and the same publication saying the club was the best new private course in 2005, that would be hard to argue.
If you caught Harry King, my Stephens Media colleague’s piece Saturday you know there were also scores of volunteer opportunities, but that too comes with a $100 price tag. Of course the volunteers get a couple of shirts, a hat and meals that more than makes up the charge.
The volunteer badges also admit volunteers to the course when they aren’t scheduled to work, according to one story last week and, as King put it, there are plenty of non-golf specific jobs where a volunteer is needed.
The golf you can take in includes two rounds to cut the field to 44 and ties, two more to cut it to 16 and match play that routinely includes future PGAers.
The tournament also supports the Chick Evans Scholarship Foundation that has put upwards of 10,000 caddies through college with about 830 currently counted as students.
In case you’re wondering the Western Golf Association was formed in 1889 and the tournament was held in Chicago for many years. Starting in 1971 it was held in Michigan for over 30 years.