Before you get there, you think you’re lost. The road to Mystic Creek Golf Club is under construction with at least two lanes closed at any given time. But long before you reach the club’s entrance, you feel betrayed by the GPS. There’s no way it’s out here, you tell yourself. Four miles outside of El Dorado, Ark. (pronounced like El Tornado), the roadscape is a hodgepodge of pine trees and single-family housing sprinkled across the land over decades.
But then you turn into the club entrance and fall through a pine-hole into golf wonderland. From the clubhouse, you can see most of the first hole, as well as the 9th and 18th greens. And you know this is something special.
“The place is terrific, isn’t it?” Kim Kaufman said of Mystic Creek, which she saw for the first time on Monday. “Just so good. It reminds me of Pinehurst. The greens complexes are all perched up. They have run-offs and a lot of movement. Thank goodness it’s playing a little soft. It’d be almost impossible to hold (the greens) if it was playing firm and fast.”
The architect is named Ken Dye (no relation of Pete and Alice), a North Carolina native who worked for the legendary Joe Finger and is now the president of Finger, Dye and Spann. His work at Mystic Creek shows hints of Finger’s green complexes with bunkers that you would swear Tom Fazio built from memory.
“Whoever built it did a good job,” said Casey Danielson, who is playing in her fourth El Dorado Shootout and currently sits at No. 3 in the Race for the Card. “It’s a great design and always in great shape. They do so much to make us feel welcome here. The golf course is just one aspect of that.”