For area golfers, it’s a chance to play on the same course where Jack Nicklaus and other greats roamed just weeks ago.
But that’s only one reason why the head of the Ozarks Water Watch – which promotes water quality in the White River basin – appreciates his organization’s annual golf tournament.
Consider what the OWW Golf Classic says about folks in the Ozarks. And look how it benefits outdoors enthusiasts, too. The tournament is June 18 at newly renovated Buffalo Ridge Golf Course south of Branson. To sign up, call the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at 889-3100.
“In many parts of the country, environment and business interests are on opposite sides. In the Ozarks, you find this cooperation,” said David Casaletto, president and executive director of Ozarks Water Watch, which promotes water quality in the upper White River basin. “It’s really nice.”
That’s important for the OWW, whose recent expansion may help it keep pace with the lakes region’s rise as a major economic engine.
Ozarks Water Watch launched in 2001 as a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit. It helps monitor water quality in a combined 15 counties in southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas — an area tied around Table Rock, Taneycomo, Beaver and Bull Shoals lakes and other lazy waters of the Ozarks.
If an algae bloom develops in a cove or, should a leaky septic tank threaten nearby water, OWW jumps in to help remedy the problem.
The organization added the Table Rock Lake Water Quality Inc. under its umbrella earlier this year, raising the staffing level to a combined six.
However, the OWW’s efforts still require leaning on hundreds of volunteers – and wrangling them yearly.
Which is why Casaletto is optimistic about the sixth annual OWW Golf Classic presented by Country Mart. It links businesses and golf enthusiasts in aiding efforts to keep the lakes clean.
The selling point of the tournament now is Buffalo Ridge, which in April hosted the Legends of Golf, an event that brought in major PGA winners such as Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Gary Player.
“The tournament is our major fundraiser,” Casaletto said. “Proceeds are used to fund water quality protection efforts and to allow us to continue our watershed-wide volunteer monitoring program.”
Proceeds from the tournament, thus, could be significant.
In recent years, for example, the OWW has helped steer homeowners toward grants that help remedy broken septic systems.
That’s helpful, said Todd Fickbohm, assistant administrator of the Stone County Health Department. His department is tasked with informing homeowners of the need to upgrade septic systems and, thanks to OWW, can point to help immediately.
“They’ve helped replace failing septic systems with new ones,” Fickbohm said. “They’ve helped educate the public on water quality issues. They’ve done a lot.”
Entry for a foursome in the OWW tournament covers lunch, golf carts and individual gifts and greens fees, plus business signage on the course. A raffle for a nominal fee could win grand prizes such as a chartered fishing day and kayak, or 20 other items such as gift cards. Call the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.
All of which could be a bargain, given it’s about $110 alone for greens fees and cart per person on any other day at Buffalo Ridge.
Businesses fielding teams also can benefit. On-course signage, greens sponsorships and hole sponsorships are available.
“One thing about our organization is we’re an advocate and friend,” Casaletto said. “We go to the source and say, ‘How can we help you solve this problem? In my heart, that’s how man and environment can work together. How do we coexist with the environment? I believe we can.”
Want to go?
What: Sixth Annual Ozarks Water Watch Golf Classic presented by Country Mart
When & where: Thursday, June 18 at Buffalo Ridge Golf Course in Branson
Registration & lunch: Noon & 1 p.m.
Free gifts: For a four-person team, each golfer also receives a polo shirt, green fees & cart rentals.
Sponsorships: Available for greens, holes, print advertising and banners.
Call: Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100