Renovated by Jay and Carter Morrish in the late 1990s, the course at Hardscrabble Country Club dates back to the 1920s when Perry Maxwell first pegged out the fairways. The club hosted the 1979 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
This is an edited extract from the Christopher Clouser book The Midwest Associate: The Life and Times of Perry Duke Maxwell :
“Hardscrabble is often referred to as farmland that is almost impossible to grow anything on due to the rocky nature. So just imagine how bad the land must have been on the farm actually named Hardscrabble located outside of Fort Smith, Arkansas. A local resident named E. F. Creekmore headed up a group of investors who purchased the farm for the purpose of building a golf course. Perry Maxwell was hired to do the original design work on the course for a fee of $1,500.
The original layout was a sand green design. Hardscrabble was also the most unique routing Perry would design. The original routing was an out and back layout. In the late 1960s the course was changed significantly as five new holes were added to make the routing into two groups of nine and to make room for a practice facility. Two holes were a true loss to the work done on the course. They were two holes that would be unique to any course in the country.
The 3rd hole required a semi-blind tee shot up the hill to a crest in the fairway. From this spot the player had a view from above the 4th fairway and also had a wonderful view of the green for a drop shot-style approach. The 4th then featured an elevated tee shot that played through a corridor with steep hills on both sides all the way back to the green located at the end of the natural spillway [and] the amphitheatre setting of the fairway provided some interesting lies.
Two other holes on the course were template-style holes. One was a Maxwell template and another was a version of Charles Macdonald’s famous Cape hole. The 14th features a downhill approach with a green guarded on the left by water [and] Maxwell designed the hole to reward the longer player off the tee. The 16th features a drive that must clear a deep chasm then clear the crest of a hill. This hole was also a driveable par four if conditions were fast and firm [and was] a version of the Cape hole at National Golf Links.”