Mystic Creek Golf Club Celebrates First 10 Years
By Tom Mackin
Where were you in May 2013? That’s when Mystic Creek Golf Club opened its doors a few miles west of El Dorado, Arkansas. While its location is far off the typical golf destination path, it is well worth the journey. Named one of the “Best New Golf Courses” in 2013 by Golf Digest, it has also been ranked the No. 1 “Best Course You Can Play” in Arkansas for the past four years by Golfweek, and its currently No. 38 on that publication’s “Top 100 Best Public Courses You Can Play” list for the entire country.
The feedback from golfers is just as sterling, according to General Manager Cody Lack. “They tell me if Pinehurst No. 2 and Augusta National had a baby, this would be the course,” he said. Like those two layouts, Mystic Creek is a strategic golf experience unfurling over a landscape of rolling hills, with holes framed by soaring Cathedral Pines, beds of pine straw outside the rough lines, and green complexes with plenty of movement.
And as at those two iconic courses, the key to Mystic Creek is its unique layout and knowing where you can miss. “It’s an exciting championship course that requires quality golf shots,” Lack said. “You have to be very patient playing here and take what it gives you. It’s not about just hitting a green, it’s where you hit the green. Par is a good score, and sometimes bogey is a great score.”
Course architect Ken Dye maximized the up and down topography of the property, which sits in the south-central part of the state, less than 20 miles north of the Louisiana border. Owned by Murphy USA, an El Dorado-based company whose portfolio includes gas stations and QuickChek convenience stores throughout the country, the course is no stranger to high-caliber golf, either.
The Sunbelt Men’s Conference Championship was played here in 2021 and 2022, with the competitive course record of 66 set by Mickel Schmitt of the University of Louisiana Monroe in 2021. The Southland Women’s Conference Championship visited in 2021. The course has also hosted an Epson Tour event — the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout — since 2015, and will do so again this September 22-24.
“Mystic Creek was an early and memorable stop in my professional playing career,” recounts Ally Ewing, Epson Tour alumna and three-time LPGA champion. “The beauty of the course, with the creek running throughout it, creates a serene walk that matches up with a championship-style golf course. It provides a challenge that puts your skills to the test all while growing your appreciation for the high quality and pristine appearance.”
A stay-and-play package, starting at $197 per person/per night, includes two rounds of golf and a two-night stay at The Haywood El Dorado. That hotel is right in the middle of El Dorado’s historic downtown, which placed third in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice for Best Small Town Cultural Scene in 2021. With approximately 30,000 residents, the town is a frequent host of local food, wine, and music festivals, with the likes of ZZ Top, Dwight Yoakam, and Elvis Costello playing shows at the First Financial Music Hall.
Back at the course, an 8,400-square-foot clubhouse with a distinctive timber frame opened two years ago and was quickly recognized with 2022 Regional Excellence Award for Wood Design from Woodworks. Inside, visitors can enjoy the culinary efforts of Chef Socorro Gill, whose menu features Classic American, Southern-style dishes, many of the latter with elements reflecting her Hispanic heritage. It’s the perfect place to toast a course that is the epitome of a hidden gem.
“The response from our out-of-town guests always reinforces what we already know about our course and club,” he said. “If Mystic Creek were in a larger town or big city anywhere in the country, we would be on a membership waitlist. From the course to the kitchen… it’s that good.”
Mystic Creek Golf Club, El Dorado, Ark., (870) 312-0723, www.GolfMysticCreek.com