Amateur status drawing card for Alotian

By: Wally Hall
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

— The key word in the Western Amateur coming to Arkansas was amateur.

Alotian, the ultra private golf facility in central Arkansas, will open its doors next summer when it hosts the 2013 Western Amateur, one of the premier golf tournaments for the next generation of PGA Tour players.

Recently it has been played in the Great Lakes area, but the opportunity to have the event at Alotian, which was ranked No. 14 by Golf Digest among the 100 greatest courses in the country, was too tempting.

It took only one breathtaking visit to understand and appreciate the appeal of the exclusive course that was designed by Tom Fazio.

For Alotian founder Warren Stephens to agree to open the course, it had to be an amateur event, and the Western Amateur also supports the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship program, with which Alotian is very involved.

The Evans scholarship program was founded in 1930 and has helped thousands of kids go to college.

The Stephens family always has supported amateur golf, whether through First Tee or other programs that promote the sport among youth.

The tournament isn’t until next summer and the logistics are being worked out, including attendance by golf fans.

More on this as it develops, and a lot more on it next summer when the 111th Western Amateur comes to Arkansas.

A couple of observations before starting a short vacation:

The Arkansas Razorbacks’ 2-0 winning streak started when offensive coordinator Paul Petrino moved from the field to the press box.

The defense appears to be improving, but no one will know for sure until the Ole Miss game because Auburn and Kentucky had quarterback problems.

A crowd of about 350 were on hand at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday to hear Jeff Long.

Long got off a couple of early zingers at Rex Nelson and David Bazzel, and Long’s talk, like those of all Touchdown Club speakers, can be seen at The Arkansas athletic director spent most of the time talking about unity. Long also said he would not openly discuss the coaching search from the podium, but he shared a few thoughts.

For example, he said he hoped to finalize the hiring within two weeks of end of the regular season, which could mean all of the candidates are currently coaching football somewhere.

He said he had to make sure it was someone truly interested in coaching the Razorbacks and not just trying to get a raise where he is currently working, another indication his current list could be made up of employed coaches.

And Long said he had heard recently that he was being quoted as saying the next Razorbacks coach would be the highest paid in the country. He said that was simply not the truth and would be an irresponsible statement.

He also talked loosely about a job description that included someone who has a passion to succeed, discipline and accountability as well as integrity on and off the field.

All of that should eliminate anyone with a hint of NCAA problems in their past.

Oh, and the NFL was mentioned a couple of times, which no doubt will add Pete Carroll to the rumor mill, but he was the head coach of Southern Cal in 2004 when it had to vacate the BCS national championship.

Long did not say this. I am saying it: Arkansas needs somebody who can recruit Texas better than it ever has been recruited by Arkansas.

If not the head coach, then several on the staff.

Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and even Missouri recruit the state heavily, and there are more athletes like Hogs freshman Jonathan Williams - who if he stays healthy is going to be a great Razorback - who can be talked into coming to Arkansas.

It is critical for the Razorbacks to make deeper and wider recruiting paths in the Lone Star State.

Sports, Pages 19 on 10/16/2012