The Razorback Golf team moved into their home course at Blessings during the summer of 2004. The course is both challenging to players and was a challenge to create.
Robert Trent Jones II and owner John Tyson (Chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods) had a number of goals in mind when designing Blessings.
A very hands-on client, Tyson 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, a continuous eighteen-hole routing was recommended rather than a pair of returning nines.
A third challenge arose as the architect 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. Text provided by The Blessings from: http://www.rtj2.com/blessings.shtml
Fred W. and Mary B. Smith Razorback Golf Training Facility
The Razorbacks took a giant leap forward in the spring of 2004 with the dedication of the Fred W. and Mary B. Smith Razorback Golf Training Facility at Blessings in Johnson, Ark. Located on the practice tee of Blessings, the facility is home to six indoor-outdoor practice bays, an indoor video swing analysis station, office space and men’s and women’s locker room facilities for the Arkansas golf teams. The long-time CEO of the Donrey Media Group, Fred Smith, is the chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. “We are excited to be a part of this new facility that will help the Razorback golf programs continue to compete at the highest national level,” Smith said. “Many members of our family play golf, so we have an appreciation for the commitment and many hours of practice that are required to succeed. We have a great love for the University of Arkansas and have always been proud to support the Razorbacks.” Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor echoed those thoughts. “I believe we have one of the best golf facilities in the country,” said Estes-Taylor. “I can’t thank Mr. Tyson enough for allowing us to call the Blessings our home. There is not a golf shot that we can not practice at our facility and it helps prepare us for championship golf. The Fred and Mary Smith Golf Center is another amazing facility that houses our offices, locker rooms, video bays, putting studio, and a lounge for our teams to call home. IMany thanks as well to Fred and Mary Smith for their generous support for our golf center. I feel so lucky to have such a great place to show off to recruits. There is this “wow” factor that exist when people see our place for the first time. We are very lucky!” Although the facility and golf course are just a couple years old, a recent expansion was added. The addition included outdoor driving ranges, new greens with multiple grass surfaces to chip and putt from and a state-of-the-art video putting lab. Several finishing touches were also added to the interior including the completion of a trophy case housing a replicas of John Daly’s British Open trophy and Stacy Lewis’ NCAA Tournament trophy. State-of-the-Art Video at our Fingertips
The SAM PuttLab is the most comprehensive putt training tool ever developed. The software and computer system is customized to exactly fit the needs of each individual player. It is used by the top players on the PGA and LPGA tours. The training system gives you feedback on all of the following parts of your putting stroke: face angle, swing path, impact position, dynamic loft and rise angle, club face rotation, movement dynamics, rhythm and timing.