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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista A new practice area next to the cart barn on the Dogwood golf course gives golfers the chance to warm up by hitting into the nets. A new volunteer group, Friends of Dogwood, funded the addition.

When the 18-hole Dogwood Golf Course reopened with renovated bunkers, golfers also found a new practice area.

Golfers, facility supervisor Paul Gomez said, want to warm up with a few swings before they start their game. Most golf courses have a practice area -- either a driving range or at least an open space that can be used to practice. Dogwood only had a pond where some golfers hit balls.

While the POA paid for the new bunkers, it was a different group that paid for the new practice space. The Friends of Dogwood is a volunteer group dedicated to improving Dogwood Golf Course.

Like the Friends of the Highlands and the Lads and Lassies of Scotsdale, the new group is mostly made of people who live in the area.

"They have a vested interest in the quality of the course," he explained. Gomez helped put the group together, calling on former members of the Metfield Neighbors. The Neighbors, he explained, was more of a social group. The Friends are more work-oriented.

Two volunteers, Bill Davis and Tony LiCausi, walked the entire course planning the improvements, Susan Nuttall, a member of the POA's golf committee said. The committee saw a written plan last year and approved it. There are new plantings at holes five and seven, and smaller projects at other holes. Next, the group plans to buy Dogwood and Redbud trees to plant around the course.

Their first fundraiser, a Labor Day tournament, was very successful, Nuttall said.

Their very first project, Gomez said, was a large scoreboard for tournaments. They are currently working on wooden boxes to house the water coolers located around the course.

"We love this golf course," Davis said. He had just finished playing the course along with volunteers Steve Vetter and Terry Tomlinson.

After he walked the course with LiCausi, Davis was impressed with the number of free trees LiCausi found for the course.

"We want it to look good," Vetter added. He said the POA's new bunkers didn't affect the foursome very much, "We don't get into them."

After a year in Bella Vista, golf operations director Phillip Wright is still amazed at the number of phone calls he gets after a heavy rain.

"It's phenomenal," he said. Some years volunteers are organized to rake sticks and rocks out of the fairways if the water is strong enough to leave debris.

Wright said the golf pros at the country club and at Kingsland are recruiting for their own volunteer groups. Because those courses are located in the floodplain, they don't have near neighbors like Dogwood, but Wright doesn't think they will hurt the volunteer effort. Even if they don't live right on the course, each Bella Vista Course has a core of loyal golfers.

In spite of the enthusiasm of the volunteers, they never get in the way, both Wright and Gomez agreed. They work closely with the golf course superintendent to make sure their volunteer projects won't cause future maintenance issues.

"Everything they do enhances the golf courses," Wright said.

Sports on 04/04/2018

Print Headline: Volunteers befriend Dogwood

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