Monday, October 17, 2016

College of the Ozarks Adds Golf Program, Home Course is Acclaimed Buffalo Ridge Springs

(BRANSON/LAKES AREA, MO) – College of the Ozarks is expanding its athletics program with the debut of men’s and women’s golf teams in fall 2017, the latest addition to North America’s fastest-growing golf destination.

Men’s and women’s teams will likely include eight members each and will be coached by Dr. Chris Larsen, dean of sports, recreation, and events. Larsen secured the impressive Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course in Hollister – ranked one of “America’s Greatest Courses” by national golf magazines – as the teams’ home course and is developing practice areas on campus.

Assisting Larsen will be Walter “Smiley” Jones and Kim Vinton. Jones will be director of golf instruction and is a well-known, highly regarded teacher. He played 11 years on the PGA Tour Champions circuit and has 30 years of experience as a golf instructor. Vinton currently gives private lessons in the area and holds an impressive resume as a professional player, instructor and coach.

“These two professionals will be invaluable as we strive to develop our golf program,” says Dr. Larsen.

Practice is currently taking place on the Buffalo Ridge driving range, and a practice green, sand bunker, and tee boxes are currently under construction on the college campus.

“The game of golf operates and is based on many of the values that our institution desires to develop in our students. It is a game where respect, honesty, integrity and responsibility are expected,” said Larsen.

Adding golf at College of the Ozarks mirrors the area’s golf destination growth. Two courses debuted in the past two years and two more are scheduled to open relatively soon (one in 2017, the other in 2018).

“It’s exciting news for College of the Ozarks, the young people who will join the teams, and the golf destination overall,” says Lynn Berry, Branson/Lakes Area Director of Communications. “College of the Ozarks is home to the Keeter Center, an upscale lodge, restaurant and conference facility that was ranked the ‘No. 1 Top Small Hotel in the U.S.’ by TripAdvisor for 2016. People choosing the Branson area for their next golf getaway should consider staying at this amazing place.”

For more information about Branson/Lakes Area Golf, visit or

1 comment:

Barry Benowitz said...

I've worked with Smiley and he afforded me the knowledge to be able to hit the drive occasionally over 300 yards. I've personally seen Smiley Jones help many golfers with their swing faults, he has the uncanny ability and understanding of the golf swing to get the player in a proper position to hit a straight ball deep. Unfortunately it wasn't until I was in my fifties when I met Smiley or my drives might have been 350 yards. I would encourage any golfer Tiger Woods included to seek help from Smiley his knowledge he gained from Mike Austin of the golf swing is so deep you will be instructed with ease. Smiley has shown me things that I have never heard talked about in golf before. Many times we would be watching a golf tournament on TV and Smiley would comment on the players swing, we would rewind the swing and play it back in slow motion WOW I say "Smiley how did you see that" and he would say how did you not. I was lucky enough to play several rounds of golf with Smiley the first round we pulled up to a par 5 playing 575 yards up hill after clocking a dead straight frozen rope drive over three hundred yards he pulled out a whippy red white and blue shafted three wood. Smiley said "I think I'll hit this baby straight up the middle and let it bounce on the front of the green and roll back left to the pin. Ok now I never saw anyone get one this green in two and with five huge bunkers on the right I don't know many who would even attempt the shot. Smiley took one practice swing then as if not to even seem to move his lower body he took a slow backswing cocking the club just passing his right knee allowing the club head to fall effortlessly at the top of the swing. At that moment I could see he was so relaxed and in a position to allow the club to be thrown at the ball. Before I knew it that poor ball was beat traveling dead straight climbing as it started to descend it fell slightly to the left bouncing on the green rolling right up to the pin for a tap in eagle. I looked at this old guy in astonishment and said what a fabulous swing. I later found out Smiley was in his seventies! Anyone who is in the college of the Osaka golf program will be blessed to have Walter Smiley Jones instructions and not only on the swing but the proper etiquette to conduct ones self on the links, a deep understanding of the game and the opportunity to meet a really great person.

Barry Benowitz