About 10 days before he died in late September 2016, golf legend Arnold Palmer called Warren Stephens to ask for a favor. He wanted Stephens to host his annual amateur tournament at The Alotian Club.
While discussions had already begun, Stephens knew the personal request from Palmer was imminent when the call came to his downtown Little Rock office.
“Let’s just say he cinched the deal,” Stephens said.
It was likely the last business deal Palmer made.
Alotian, just west of Little Rock in Roland, will host the prestigious 23rd annual Arnold Palmer Cup on June 7-9, 2019. The tournament features the top U.S. amateurs against their counterparts from around the world.
“You can’t have good professional golf without good amateur golf,” Stephens, the founder and chairman of The Alotian Club, said in the clubhouse at a Wednesday (March 27) press conference. “We look forward to hosting this unique and special event.”
The 2019 Arnold Palmer Cup will feature 48 amateur and college-level players from the U.S. and abroad. For the first time on U.S. soil, men and women will be teamed together for the event as 24 men and women will represent America and another evenly-split group of 24 men and women will represent nations across the globe.
The U.S. team won the 2018 Arnold Palmer Cup at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France and leads the international series 12-9-1.
This year’s competition will feature players and coaches from six continents and 20 countries, including Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Scotland, Spain and South Africa. The field is still being set and has a rigorous ranking system for selection, according to organizers of the Cup.
122 former Arnold Palmer Cup participants have gone on to play on the PGA, European, or LPGA tours. Some of the more famous and successful players include U.S. Open champions Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson. Johnson became the first player to claim all four World Golf Championship events.
In 2013, Alotian hosted the Western Amateur, another high-profile amateur event that featured rising stars in the golf world. Stephens said the Arnold Palmer Cup will be “more intimate” due to the smaller field and will likely bring future star power to the course.
“It’s like the Western Amateur on steroids,” Stephens said. He’s particularly excited about the women golfers who will participate as he sees women’s golf as “the great untapped source” for the future of golf.
The tournament is looking for caddies, but the participants must be between the ages of 14 and 19. Volunteers are also being requested to help with logistics, and the public can view the event with tickets purchased through ArnoldPalmerCup.com.
Stephens opened Alotian in September 2004 in Roland, right outside of the western edge of Little Rock. The 18-hole private course covers 7,500 yards at the championship level. World-renowned architect Tom Fazio designed the course.