FORT SMITH — Coach Randy Bagwell has five golfers returning this season, including four of his top players from last season. Making their return this season are juniors Luke Dennis and Hayden Hurst, and sophomores Hogan Dunn, Drew Griffiths, and Connor Teague.

The Pointers have five new golfers this season including four seniors with Caleb Fergeson, Kaleb Kovitch, Brandon Miller, and Sam Seeger. Jerry Fredericksen is the new freshman on the team.

Van Buren has enough golfers for a women’s team this season with junior Haylie Girvin and freshmen Allison Snow and Caroline Teague.

“I got just about everyone back along with four of my Top 5 golfers from last year,” said Bagwell. “We should have a pretty good year. Of course, we’re in a new conference and there will be teams we haven’t seen before. So, we don’t know what to expect from them.”

As schools shut down last March due to the outbreak of COVID-19 it hindered coaches to make their schedules. Van Buren’s home course, Eagle Crest in Alma, closed so Bagwell had to find another place to play.

“I just have to plan the season for my team,” Bagwell said. “I just treated everything like it was normal. Who knows what will happen next week but at least I’ve taken care of my players.”

Bagwell said that all the team has been healthy this summer and no one has missed a practice.

Van Buren opened the season on Tuesday with the Lady Pointers going to the Wildcat Invitational at Springdale Country Club. The Pointers face Alma on Thursday at River Valley Country Club in Dyer. The men’s team return to Springdale on Aug. 18.

The Pointers set Ben Geren in Fort Smith as their home course this season with four matches set. Van Buren squares off against Southside and Northside on Aug. 20, and a solo match with Southside on Aug. 27. Alma visits Ben Geren for a tri-match with Northside and Van Buren on Sept. 3. About a week later Greenwood, Vilonia, Alma, and Russellville. The home match wraps up on Sept. 16 in another tri-match with Northside and Siloam Springs.

Van Buren has just two additional road matches this season with trips to Siloam Springs (Aug. 31) and Russellville (Sept. 14).

“This is going to be easy for us to social distance,” Bagwell said. “We have to wear a mask when we all congregate at the first tee box, but once they off on their own they can take their masks off. When they turn in their scorecards, because there will be people congregating, we have to wear masks. After that, they have to straight to the bus or go home with their parents. We won’t be standing around the scoreboard waiting for the other scores to come in. All that will be texted to us.”

The 5A West Conference remains the same as the basketball league with local teams Alma and Greenwood, along with Greenbrier, Mountain Home, Russellville, Siloam Springs, and Vilonia.

Mountain Home hosts the Class 5A State Match on Oct. 5-6 at the Big Creek Golf and Country Club. The location of the conference meet hasn’t been set. Unlike the previous seasons, only the Top 4 teams will advance to the state tournament with some individual golfers as well.