Driving down Arkansas Highway 71 through Bella Vista and seeing golf courses flanking each side of the road can make a golfer feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven. Just ask Joe Vatalaro. Joe lived with his wife and family in California, where he met a retired army lieutenant colonel who was born and raised in Lowell, Arkansas. They became golfing buddies. “He kept telling us about Bella Vista, Bella Vista, Bella Vista and finally convinced us to come out here even though we were leery about Arkansas,” Joe explains. As Joe and his wife Elaine drove into town with nothing but golf courses in view, Joe knew he wanted to retire here.
Scotsdale Golf Course[/caption]He and Elaine bought their first piece of property in Bella Vista in 1991 and used it almost every year until retiring to the town in 2008.Elaine felt a little different about the move. She wasn’t ready to be retired or to move away from the grandchildren. Plus, she didn’t golf much.“I have to tell you there was just one blessing after another when we got here,” Elaine says. Even one of their children has moved to the area with his family because he said it always felt like home. Elaine enjoys the diverse groups she now golfs with, which include not just retirees but also young women that work and families.“It worked out for us and we’ve been blessed ever since,” Joe says. “I think today that it’s the best value anywhere for the amount of golf courses we have, the amenities, what we pay for golf, and for the people. In general, it’s just a great place to live.”
“...You get out on the back side and you just go into another world. It’s just so peaceful and green. You’re surrounded by a beautiful vista.”
Bella Vista offers five regulation, 18-hole courses and 2 nine-hole courses with multiple sets of tees, letting you play at the length that is the most fun for your game.Joe plays golf four to five time a week. He plays in a men’s group as well as two couple groups with his wife.“My favorite course is Country Club,” Joe says. “I like the fact that it has one of the most beautiful buildings. It was designed by [award-winning architect] Fay Jones.”To anyone new to the area or in town for vacation, he recommends playing Country Club, Dogwood and Scotsdale. “Each course is different with different challenges,” Joe adds. “Scotsdale is in the Scottish tradition with bunkers and different greens. Country Club is beautiful because of the Country Club itself. Dogwood because of the farm out there with beautiful horses and Longhorn cattle as well as a beautiful golf course.”
Dogwood Golf Course [/caption] Scotsdale is Elaine’s favorite. “There’s something majestic about Scotsdale. You get out on the back side and you just go into another world. It’s just so peaceful and green. You’re surrounded by a beautiful vista.”She suggests visitors that are very good golfers play the big challenging courses that Joe suggests. However, she says Kingswood is an easier, more social course. “That’s where a majority of our visitors go because of the amenities all around it. The vacation places they can stay, tennis courts, pool. All those amenities are right at their fingertips.”
Kingswood Golf Course[/caption]In the natural setting of Northwest Arkansas, the Bella Vista golf courses are some of the most beautiful and challenging in the central United States.Here’s a breakdown of each course:Country Club Golf CourseFeatures long fairways flanked by mature trees and walkable terrain. Little Sugar Creek is in play on several holes. The Tanyard Creek Practice Center is nearby.Highlands Golf CourseTake extra balls. This is the longest and most challenging course in Bella Vista. Carved out of the rolling terrain, you’ll need shot control. It also has a full practice facility with a driving range, putting green and pitching and chipping green.This course also has a full service bar and Grab-and-Go food selections such as soup, sandwiches and salads. Scotsdale Golf CourseThis 18-hole course plays like traditional Scottish links by using natural hills and slopes of the terrain. Embrace the Scottish way at the Scotsdale Clubhouse and Pub with beer, ales, and Scotch.Dogwood Golf CourseLocated on the east side of Arkansas Highway 71, this course is designed for all skill levels. It is links-style with a layout that features gentle terrain with several long stretches from green to the next tee. The snack bar has beer and brats to enjoy after your round.Kingswood Golf CourseThis 18-hole links-style course is a favorite for couples and family play. Its golf shop offers apparel, balls, rangefinders and other accessories while the practice facility has a putting and chipping green for warm up. Papa Mikes, a quick service restaurant, is located next to the Pro Shop. Berksdale Golf CourseThis nine-hole course adjacent to Kingswood is a full length, 36 par course perfect for a casual round or those new to golf. Rental clubs are available for adults and juniors. Holes offer the challenges of water, trees, and elevated greens with walkable terrain.Brittany Golf CourseIf you’re short on time but want to get a few holes in, Brittany is the place to go with its five par 3s and four par 4s with two tee choices. The terrain will test your short game. Tanyard Creek Practice CenterThe center carries a selection of clubs and gear, offers lessons with PGA teaching Professionals, has 28 uncovered and eight covered hard surface stations which are heated for cold weather practice, and has grass tee surface, putting green and a practice area with bunkers and chipping stations.Get-A-GripThis full-service golf club repair facility is located in the heart of Bella Vista.Stay up-to-date on rates, hours, tournaments, and other golf updates at bellavistapoa.com/thingstodo/golf/.
By Jill Rohrbach