Grand greens: New course at Nutters Chapel gives golfers a challenge

“Sixty days ago, this golf course didn’t look like this,” said developer Hal Crafton of Rush-Hal Properties, which partnered with the Lindsey company in the project. “Phillip Stamps, the golf course superintendent, is the hardest working man I’ve ever been around. There was never one time that I came out here when Phillip was not working.

“This is going to be one of the nicest public golf courses in the state because of this man and his staff.”

Nutters Chapel, which has been open for play since Oct. 31, is located at 1705 South Salem Road in Conway.

Crafton thanked the Lindsey family – Jim and sons Lyndy and John David – for their partnership in creating such a project for his hometown.
Harkening back to the building – and battle – of The Links at Cadron Valley, he said that experience opened his eyes to what could be in Conway.

“This is an 18-hole Cadron Valley with a golf course like we’ve never had,” he said. “So now we have 27 holes of public play, and it didn’t cost the city of Conway one penny. We’re proud of Conway, and I hope Conway is proud of this.”

The par-70 course, designed by Lyndy Lindsey, himself a former Arkansas junior and amateur golfer, includes four sets of tees. The Grizzly Bear tees will play at 6,159 yards, Black Bear from 5,380, Brown Bear from 4,209 and White Bear from 3,799.

“This golf course is different from anything else in Conway,” said Reggie Rose, director of golf for all three Lindsey properties in Conway. “It will be significantly shorter than Centennial, with a 60-to-70-foot elevation change. It’s up on a hillside. It’s tighter, so you’ll have to be more strategic.

“You’ve got to think about the shot; you can’t go out and take your driver out and hit it as far as you can. That won’t work out for you. You’ve got to think yourself around the course.”

But the good thing for the recreational player is it’s not overwhelmingly long.

“The one thing you don’t want to get is to have a real long, hard golf course,” Rose said. “That’s no fun. Some places out here you’ll have to hit strategic shots, but it’s still short. But if you get to hitting it a little crooked out there, it’s not good.

“You can see almost all of Conway from the course.”

The course features mini verde bermuda grass greens with bermuda fairways and tees and zoysia collars. Centennial has bent grass greens. The hard winter was rough on the course, and several greens were closed in the months prior to the opening, but with few exceptions, the layout was nearly immaculate at the opening.

Greens fees are $21 Monday through Thursday and $26 Friday through Sunday and holidays, with cart fees $14 per person for 18 holes. Memberships are available for $150 per month. Membership entitles the golfer to play The Links at Cadron Valley and other Lindsey courses except for Centennial.
Centennial Valley members retain playing privileges at both Cadron and Nutters Chapel.

Jeremy Wallace is the manager at Nutters Chapel, having come from Centennial and, most recently, Cadron. Golf shop assistants include Bobby Hill, C.J. Bobbit and Austen Moix. Steve Coney is the course marshal. Stamps, the golf course superintendent, is assisted by Jessie Hinton.

Lyndy Lindsey praised Crafton for the “magnificent job” he did in finding the property. Ground was broken 18 months ago.

“You’ve got to have flat land to build apartments, but a golf course wants hilly ground, and this has both,” Lyndy Lindsey said. “I remember the first time we drove around it, it took my breath away.”

He said a few weeks ago his father talked to him about a future project in which he wanted nine holes around the apartments and nine holes away from them because people don’t feel like playing golf around a complex.

“I said, ‘Dad, that’s what we’ve got at Nutters Chapel.’”

The opening brought out representatives of the city, the Arkansas State Golf Association and several banks in the community.

According to Jay Fox, executive director of the ASGA, Nutters Chapel is Lindsey’s 16th 18-hole facility, and the company has another 25 nine-hole courses.

“That’s 41 golf courses, not all in Arkansas, but the thing about the Lindsey family is how they are helping the economy,” Fox said. “There’s revenue out here, jobs, taxes.

“Any time you can do something for the city of Conway, I’m all for it. To better the game of golf is just a bonus.”

Mac Stubbs, the ASGA’s director of handicapping, said the organization had a reciprocal relationship with the Lindsey group.

“The Lindseys have 15 courses in the state of Arkansas, and our members come out of those clubs,” Stubbs said. “We depend on them to host events because of the quality of the golf courses.”

The ASGA has offices at Eagle Hill, the Lindsey property in Little Rock, and Stubbs said the organization uses Hurricane at Bryant often for ASGA events. He said Nutters Chapel would “absolutely” be the host course for future tournaments.

“It’s a little shorter than some of the other courses, but it’s a position-type golf course,” he said. “It will be a good venue for junior, women’s or senior events because of the yardage and quality.”

The opening marked the first phase of the development, which will ultimately include 950 apartments along with a second clubhouse and pool.

“I think people will be enjoying this property for 100 years,” Jim Lindsey said. “It’s nice to think about all the thousands of people who will live out here and enjoy it. Add to that all those who will play out here, and we will have done a good deed for the city of Conway and ourselves.”