Chris Jenkins is known among state amateur golfers as “Mr. Fourth of July” for his record number of Fourth of July Classic championships at War Memorial Golf Course.
In 2018, Jenkins will add the title of hall of famer, joining Dawn Darter and Brent Winston as the Arkansas State Golf Association’s newest hall members.
Jenkins, 48, isn’t going into the hall of fame merely for winning nine Fourth of July Classic championships, which is one of the state’s top four amateur tournaments that is played on the par-64 course alongside some of Little Rock’s busiest streets and Interstate 630.
“War Memorial, as much as I enjoy winning it, it is still just one event,” said Jenkins, who has won 50 state-designated events as well as the state amateur and match-play tournaments. “I’ve won nine at War Memorial and 41 I’ve won elsewhere.”
Jenkins also had a stellar junior career and was a two-time all-conference player at Arkansas State University. He’s served on the ASGA board of directors since 1994 — its president the past two years — and remains an integral part on the state’s junior golf scene.
“I’ve been fortunate to serve on the ASGA board and been involved for 23 years other than just as a player,” he said. “All of it has been enormously rewarding. I feel it’s important to play some role with the ASGA and reaching out to junior golfers. I feel like we’ve done that and think we are moving in the right direction.”
Darter, 58, has been the head club professional at The Greens at North Hills in Sherwood since 2010. She learned to play golf under Tommy Hanson when the club was North Hills Country Club and later became an Arkansas high school state champion.
“I grew up at North Hills, and Tommy Hanson was instrumental in molding me into the golf professional that I am today,” Darter said. “There were things I learned from him that I want to pass along to kids coming up.”
Darter played collegiately at Oklahoma and also participated in three U.S. Women’s Opens. She became a PGA professional, then worked under Hanson as a head professional at two clubs in the state and two in Nevada before returning to North Hills.
She started the PGA Central Region Junior Tour and the PGA Junior League with Cary Maddox and Mike Smith in 2014. She has won numerous awards with the PGA Chapter and the South Central Section in junior golf and merchandising.
“I like working with kids, keeping them engaged and growing the game,” Darter said.
“I was fortunate for people like Tommy Hanson and others that helped get me where I am today.”
Winston, 45, won the state match-play championship in 1994 and 1995 when he also captured the state amateur, culminating in the ASGA Player of the Year title. A winner of 15 ASGA designated tournaments, Winston was an All-Sun Belt Conference selection for two years at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock before turning professional.
Current ASGA hall of famer and multiple state champion Wes McNulty nominated Winston, writing, “strong player, but even stronger character; strong in faith and loves his family and strives to do right every day.”
“Those are pretty good words coming from a friend and a reflection on how I was raised by my parents,” the Sheridan native said.
Winston played on what is now the Web.com Tour in 2001 and 2002, and he qualified twice for the St. Jude Classic on the PGA Tour. He said he didn’t expect to be going into the ASGA Hall of Fame at this stage and that the achievement “hasn’t sunk in yet.”
“I had bigger aspirations,” Winston said. “I had dreams that I would play a long time on the PGA Tour, but God had his way. I wouldn’t trade anything how it turned out. I have a beautiful wife, a lovely family and have been extremely blessed.”
A date and location for the induction ceremony have yet to be announced.