Arkansas is playing host to the men's regional at the Blessings Golf Club in Johnson, where the Hogs play and practice on one of the nation's toughest and best layouts. The Robert Trent Jones, Jr., layout, as built for club owner John Tyson, plays to a rating of 79.1 at 7,251 yards against par of 72.
It's an intimidating place said McMakin, the seventh-year UA men's coach. He reminded that one of third-seed Oklahoma State's top players was whipped by the Blessings a few years ago in the Rolex Junior Championships.
"He came in here as the No. 1 junior player in the world and he shot 90-90," McMakin said. "I'm sure he wasn't real excited when they were given this regional. I don't think he'll sleep real well the night before the tournament."
McMakin said that's just what Blessings does to most players, even the great ones, until they've seen it a few times. Recently crowned SEC individual champ Sebastian Cappelen shot 79 the first time around Blessings as a UA freshman.
"I think it takes about 10 times to get used to it," McMakin said. "These players are going to get one practice round. That's not enough. I don't think they'll sleep too well the night before the first round."
The No. 13 Razorbacks enter as the No. 2 seed. Defending NCAA champ Texas has the No. 1 seed. No. 16 Oklahoma State has the No. 3 seed. The rest of the field: No. 21 SMU, No. 28 Kent State, No. 32 Illinois, No. 40 Liberty, No. 45 Tulsa, Kentucky, Colorado, Indiana, UNC-Wilmington, UMKC and Alabama State.
The top five teams in the 14-team regional advance to the NCAA Championships. Clearly, McMakin thinks the Hogs will advance, in style, thanks to playing at the Blessings.
"I think we'll get the individual winner and the team winner," McMakin said. "Our guys really like playing here. I think it will take everyone else a couple of days to get used to the Blessings."
Most would assume Cappelen would be the favorite to win the individual crown playing at home. But McMakin thinks several of his teammates might be his top competition.
"Obviously, I like Sebastian's chances," McMakin said. "But I like the chances of all of our guys. Taylor Moore plays great here. So does Austin Cook. Austin has played well here for four years. He's just comfortable here."
Cappelen is from Odense, Denmark. His parents are making a rare trip to watch.
"They've been to see him twice in college," McMakin said. "He's played great when they've come. I know he's excited.
"Really, all our guys are. They know a lot of their friends who normally never see them compete are going to be watching."
Tee times for Thursday's first round -- May 16 -- begin at 8 a.m. when the top pairings with the Hogs, Longhorns and Cowboys go off No. 1. The 54-hole tournament wraps up Saturday.
So how much is the Blessings worth to the Hogs?
"I think it might be six shots a round per team," McMakin said. "It's tight. There's not a lot of rough, but you can't play a foul ball. There will be a lot of lost balls out there. The visual effect off the tee is intimidating. The greens are super fast, probably between 12.5 and 13 on the stimpmeter.
"It's long, but it plays even longer. We've had a lot of rain and may get some more before next week. It's zoysia fairways and there is no roll out. Of the five par fives, only one is reachable in two. There are some players in the field who may not be able to get to some of the par fours."
One of those is the par four 18th. It'll play at 480 in the tournament. There's a formidable carry off the tee, into the prevailing southwest wind. McMakin is hoping that it blows at least some.
It's an unusual layout in that there are five par fives and five par threes. The par fives measure 635, 560, 535, 580 and 524. The last of those, the 16th, is the only possible two-shot hole. Three of the par threes are over 200. The 17th can be a monster, but will play "only" 241 for the tournament with an up tee in use.
"Ideally, we'd get a different wind all three days," he said. "That would give us the most advantage. This time of year, it does blow most days and we like that. We hit it pretty low as a team and that will help us."
It's the changing wind that helps the home team.
"We've played it in all conditions," McMakin said. "That's what we want. What makes Blessings tough is the change in elevation, the drops, the rises and the swirling wind. We know all of those places."
Texas is talented, but McMakin thinks Blessings will pull the Hogs even.
"Texas has a great team, but we should win," he said. "It's just nice to play at home. You eliminate that eight hours of travel and sleep in your own bed, it helps.
"We've never played at home since I've been here and our guys are excited. I'm just trying to keep them from getting too excited.
"I've told them they don't have to try to do anything special. There are pins that we are going to see out there that you just don't go for. Hit it to the middle and take your par.
"We have to play good to beat Texas, but I think we will play good."
What's a good score?
"That's the thing, we don't really know what teams are going to shoot here," McMakin said. "I think you will see some big scores, some big numbers. When we qualify in the wind, par is pretty good. With no wind, we shoot a little under par, maybe 4-under as a team. But I think par is going to be very good here. If we play well, that will be good enough.
"We play here all winter in tough conditions and we play it all the way back, 7,400 yards. So this will be up for us, a little easier."
The Hogs didn't play well last year at the NCAA Regional in Kentucky. They didn't advance.
"We had a very good team, but we had a bad week at a bad time," McMakin said. "There is so much parity that small schools can have five good players and have a good team.
"We never felt comfortable on that golf course. I felt it as a coach."
McMakin feels just the opposite this May and knows it's the rest of the field that has that uneasy feeling about the course.
"This is a championship golf course," McMakin said. "You can hold a major championship here. We play some good courses, but we don't play courses like this every week. It's big. It's a man's course.
"There aren't many birdies out there. Most places, a par five is an easy birdie. Not here. You can make doubles and triples. That's why I say you don't need to be hunting pins. You don't have to be fancy.
"This is a nerve-wrecking week. For a coach, this is our week (to be counted). You get points for the Director's Cup when you advance. But I'm a little less nervous."