One of the many private clubs operated under the umbrella of Arnold Palmer Golf Management, Chenal Country Club is located at Little Rock’s northwestern perimeter with the Founders course appearing first in 1990, with Bear Den debuting in 2003.
According to Daniel Wexler, who commented in The American Private Golf Club Guide, “Chenal is one of the Ozarks’ grander modern golf developments, featuring a pair of high-octane RTJII designs. The higher rated Founders course fans out to the southeast of the clubhouse and features water substantially in play on 11 holes.
Though formulaic in spots (e.g. the gimmicky double green serving the 9th and 18th holes) it remains an interesting test, particularly with waterside greens at the 429-yard 3rd, the 197-yard 4th, the 539-yard 9th and the 380-yard 12th all threatening to punish careless shots with big numbers.”
Chenal Country Club has two courses and I agree that the Founders is the belle of the ball. The first hole is a welcoming par five that leans right and is reachable by big hitters. It is tree lined with a fairway bunker left about 165 yards out. The green is elevated with two bunkers right and one front left. The 2nd is a long par four that also leans right, but is much tougher. There is a bunker on the inside right, if you can clear it, you will probably end up inside 150 yards. However, left of the fairway is an unseen water hazard that swallowed my drive. This is a two tiered green with a bunker front right and two left. The 3rd parallels the 2nd and is a good hole and the number one handicap. A creek cuts across the fairway and runs down the left side into a water hazard that the green hides behind. Favor the right side, the green has two bunkers front right and one rear. My favorite hole and I bet you know why. The fourth is a mid-length Florida par three. Deep bunker right and two rear. The fifth is an interesting par four. A creek crosses the fairway early and then runs down the left side and there are two fairway bunker son the right side about 170 yards out. There are four front left greenside bunkers, the further left your tee shot is the more potential challenges. Demanding hole. The 6th is a mid-length par three, but as it is downhill, it plays much shorter. The 7th bends right, but trees creep in from the right and the largest landing area is left and the fairway slopes left to right. However, the further left you are the more bunkers you will have to fly to hit the green. The good news is this part of the hole contours right to left. The 8th is a short par four and a birdie oppty. Carry the fairway bunkers on the right and you will have a flip wedge to the green. If you lay up, you will contend with uphill bunkers carry approach. For big hitters the 9th can be reached in two, but there is water all the way down the left side. For the rest of us favor the right side and for the 2nd shot aim at the middle right fairway bunker to leave you with an attack wedge to the green that is perched on the water hazard.
The back starts with a valley par four with a slight water carry. Ideal line aim at the right fairway bunkers to avoid the shorter left fairway bunkers. The uphill approach is to a green with bunkers right front and left. The short downhill 11th is rated the easiest hole on the course. The 12th is a reachable par five. Favor the right side off the tee to avoid the pot bunkers on the left. There is water left, but it is not nearly as precarious as the 9th. The 13th is a fun hole, a short dogleg left that has been driven, but certainly not by me. There is water down the left side, smart play is lay up between the fairway bunkers. The 14th is a straight away par four. Bombs away off the tee between the left and right fairway bunkers. It is a long hole and there is a fairway bunker right, but you can run the ball onto this green. The 15th is another long par four with a creek that cuts across the fairway diagonally and then runs up the right side. Ideal line is right of the left fairway bunker that starts about 170 yards out. The 16th is a reverse S par five. There is water hazard on the right side that requires a monster drive to clear. Play left of it, however, water sneaks into play on the left as well, starting about 220 out. This water hazard runs thru the green, thus it will be all carry. Safer play hit your next shot right to your favorite wedge distance. The 17th is another Florida par three. The 18th is a good finishing hole, a long dogleg right with water down the entire right side. A stream cuts across the fairway about 180 yards out.
A fine course that I would play again, especially if you paid.