ROLAND — Golfers and fans of the game have two good reasons to attend the 2013 Western Amateur Tournament at The Alotian Club.

ROLAND — Golfers and fans of the game have two good reasons to attend the 2013 Western Amateur Tournament at The Alotian Club.

Both the players in the field and the course itself will be in the upper echelon of golf.

Since 1961, winners of the Western Amateur include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Lanny Wadkins, Andy North, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton, Scott Verplank, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard and Tiger Woods.

Impressed by those names? How about Augusta National, Pine Valley, Shinnecock Hills, Oakmont, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Merion and Winged Foot — the top eight courses in the country, according to Golf Digest. A newcomer to the magazine’s biennial ranking, The Alotian is No. 14 this year. Built by Little Rock businessman Warren Stephens, the course was identified by Golf Digest as the best new private course in the country in 2005.

The Western Amateur will be open to the public, which should entice many local residents who have wanted to see the exclusive Tom Fazio-designed course located west of Little Rock. Prior to the announcement on Wednesday, officials of the Western Amateur said the weeklong tournament normally attracts 3,000 to 5,000. The tournament record of 10,000 was set in the early 1990s when NBA star Michael Jordan was granted an exemption and was paired with Mickelson.

The Western Golf Association’s relationship with The Alotian is rooted in the caddy program at the club, believed to be the only such program in Arkansas. Alotian caddies Joe and Kevin Evans have been awarded Chick Evans Scholarships by the WGA and are attending Northwestern.

Stephens said The Alotian was not built with the idea of attracting big-time tournaments, but that he couldn’t say no considering the history of the Western Golf Association and the prestige of the tournament.

“Hosting a first-class competition and supporting scholarships for caddies made the decision to welcome the Western Amateur to Arkansas an easy one,” he said in a release.

Stephens has said no when approached about holding other events at The Alotian. Pro events, with their tremendous galleries, would be a logistical challenge, he said.

“The foundation of golf is amateur golf,” he said, adding that there would be no professional golf without amateur golf.

Asked later if he would consider having another major amateur tournament at The Alotian, Stephens said, “I might.”

Stephens and members of his family own Stephens Media, which includes the Arkansas News Bureau and the Pine Bluff Commercial.

Originally, the Western Amateur was supposed to be at Olympia Fields Country Club south of Chicago in 2013. Vince Pellegrino, vice president of tournaments for the WGA, said that when The Alotian Club offered to host the tournament, Olympia Fields cooperated and that the move would enable Olympia Fields to concentrate on preparing for the U.S. Amateur in 2015.

The format for the Western Amateur is grueling, made more difficult by the fact that the players must walk and that elevation changes are much a part of The Alotian. The 156 competitors play 36 holes before the field is cut to the low 44 and ties. Those golfers play another 36 holes before the field is reduced to the Sweet Sixteen. At that point, the format is match play — two matches per day for two days.

Practice rounds will be July 29 and the first round is July 30.