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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista The golf groups attend the annual Golf Expo to sign up new members. There are groups for women, for men and for couples that play on every day of the week.

One of the things that make golf in Bella Vista unique is the groups, Golf Operations director Darryl Muldoon said. There are 118 groups signed up for play this summer. They range from small groups of friends who may divide up into three or four foursomes to the Men's 18 Hole Golf Association or MGA with 180 members. Last week's Golf Expo at Riordan Hall was all about the groups.

It started with a meeting of group leaders. The theme was communication, Muldoon said.

"We're there to help," he said about his department.

Some years, the group leaders meeting will focus on an issue that needs to be addressed, like asking the group leaders to be more accurate when they reserve a number of tee times, but this year there were no issues, Muldoon said.

Many of the group leaders, like Joe Dancer, have been doing it for years.

"It can be frustrating," he admitted. He understands that the golf office needs to know how many golfers will play each week, but sometimes he has a hard time getting that information from the golfers. Sometimes, they just don't show up to play.

He also matches up the foursomes, and that means he has to know how well they play. He doesn't always use the golfer's official handicap. Handicaps can be affected by what rounds the golfer actually enters. Not everyone enters every round. So he observes his group members and uses his own judgment.

Some of the group members have offered to help manage the group, but the leader has to be computer literate and willing to handle the money. For Dancer, it's easier to just do it.

"We're having fun and that's what golf is for," he said.

Ron Stevens of the Hobos was wearing an embroidered shirt with the group's logo -- a man with a kerchief bag hanging from a golf club over his shoulder. His may be the only group with embroidered shirts, he said. He used to be in the business. He brought the name and the logo with him from Minnesota and has been running it for 20 years.

No one remembers where some of the groups got their names, but some names are golf-related like the Put-Savers and Aces. The Wimps group is also a golf-related name. It stands for Wednesday Invitational Mens Play.

Other names represent what brought the group together like the Metfield Mommies or the Lakers.

At the expo, the groups are set up according to the day they play. Potential new members can see what groups play on the day they prefer and then see a few details about the group.

Some play summer only, while others are year round. Some play more than one type of game. Some groups play nine holes and others play 18. There's also a women's 5 hole group that always plays on Brittany.

The cost to join a group also varies. Some groups don't have a fee, but some, like MGA, ask for $70 annually for the group as well as regular golf fees. In some cases, the fees go toward a year-end banquet.

Although most of the groups are all men or all women, there a few couples groups like Saturday Spouses or Golf & Burgers.

A few tournaments were represented at the Expo. POA chairwoman Ruth Hatcher, along with a representative from the Bella Vista Foundation, Charlie Teal, were signing up volunteers for this summer's Cooper Charity Classic APT. The LPGA tournament which takes place in Rogers was also represented. So were the Gravette High School Golf Classic and the Friends of the Highlands tournaments.

"Golf Operations is here to support the groups," Muldoon said. "The Expo is all about groups."

Sports on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: Golf Expo: All About the Groups

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