Robert Trent Jones II and owner John Tyson (Chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods) had a number of goals in mind when designing Blessings, near Fayetteville, Arkansas. Mr. Tyson, a very hands-on client, wanted a flexible golf course where every shot required careful thought and precise execution. He also wanted a course sufficiently demanding to host major collegiate tournaments. To meet the dual goals of toughness and flexibility, RTJ II created a unique golf course with three adjustable holes-eight, nine and sixteen-which can be configured to play to different pars, depending on course setup.
Another challenge in designing Blessings was to route the golf course so that the clubhouse could be located outside of the floodplain of Clear Creek, the major topographical and strategic feature of the site. After considering a number of possibilities, we recommended a continuous eighteen-hole routing rather than a pair of returning nines.
A third challenge arose as we designed the short, par-three tenth hole, which plays to a green located on an exposed platform at the edge of a vertical rock quarry. The green site was shaded by a grove of hardwoods that we wished to save, but needed to thin out to provide sunlight to the green. To solve this dilemma, we generated computer models that showed sunlight angles to the green at various times of day and season, and figured out how to save the greatest number of trees while allowing for enough light to grow grass on the green. This is a good example of how RTJ II delivers environmentally sensitive solutions to golf course design challenges-something we've been doing for more than 30 years.
Blessings stretches to nearly 7,500 yards from the back tees and plays through two distinct landforms-the Clear Creek floodplain and a plateau that rises to 65 feet above the floodplain where it's bisected by a series of ravines. Both the outward and inward nines climb up and down between the two topographies, creating drama and variety on a course where golfers will surely feel both tested and blessed by the glory of their surroundings.