Industry News

Branson grows as golf site, according to review

(BRANSON, MISSOURI) – Based on player reviews of Branson/Lakes Area courses on Golf Advisor – the Trip Advisor of golf – the Ozark Mountain destination in southwest Missouri ranks highly and is increasingly being considered a must-play destination by aficionados.

People post reviews and pictures of golf courses they’ve experienced on Golf Advisor, a network wherein kindred spirits provide insight designed to help other players make informed decisions.  Take a review of Branson’s Thousand Hills Golf Resort, for example. It holds a four-star rating (out of five) and the following excerpt came from a recent player there: 

“A great example of why length is not required to make a course interesting or challenging. This course is short, featuring lots of par 3 holes, but it's beautiful, interesting, fun to play. I'm a 12 handicapper and I had all I could handle from the blue tees. I loved the elevation change and well-protected greens. My wife enjoyed how far forward the red tees were – a great layout for the ladies! [Golf Operations Manager Gary Nelson] in the club house was super helpful.”

Thousand Hills is one of many recipients of golfer superlatives.  Reviews of Top of the Rock (4.75 stars), LedgeStone (4.5) Buffalo Ridge Springs (4.5) and Pointe Royale (4) reinforce that golf in the Branson area is diverse, good to great, and recommended.

Welcome to the Ozarks

Big Cedar Lodge has been making golf news for several years now, and that won’t change for years to come thanks to its astounding new-course development. Two new courses are under development at Big Cedar Lodge – a 13-hole short course designed by Gary Player that will open later this year and an 18-hole course designed by the legendary architect team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. A third course, Payne’s Valley (in honor of area native, Payne Stewart), was announced this spring and will be designed by Tiger Woods, along with a short course to accompany the new 18-hole design. These new additions to Big Cedar Lodge will complement the property’s existing courses, Top of the Rock, a 9-hole, par-3 course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and the 18-hole Buffalo Ridge Springs course designed by Tom Fazio. 

Upscale resorts with multiple, above-par courses are no easy entity to manage, but when done well, they can become iconic. Think Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes and Kohler.  Hence, it was an inspired decision by Big Cedar Lodge to bring in Steve Friedlander and Mark Lammi to guide the burgeoning golf destination.

Friedlander is the new vice president of golf at Big Cedar. Prior to joining Big Cedar Lodge, he led the golf operations at Pelican Hill Resort for nearly a decade, home to 54 exquisite holes designed by Tom Fazio. Further demonstrating his expertise, Friedlander served as Kohler’s general manager & group director of golf for eight years.

Lammi is Big Cedar’s new director of golf.  A PGA Master Professional, Lammi comes to the Ozarks from Reynolds Plantation in Georgia, where he served as vice president of golf operations. A multi-course destination, Reynolds Plantation is considered one of America’s finest collections of golf courses.

Both are stoked to be at the hub of the incredible present and dynamic future that is Big Cedar Lodge golf.

“Big Cedar Lodge founder Johnny Morris’ vision and collaboration with many of golf’s greatest minds, is a once-in-a-lifetime confluence,” says Friedlander. “This is a special destination and we’re thrilled to introduce golfers from around the globe to the beauty of the Ozarks through golf.”   

About Branson/Lakes Area Golf

  • Pointe Royale Golf Village, 417.334.4477
  • Thousand Hills Golf Resort, 800.487.0769, 417.334.4553
  • Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course, 417.339.5430
  • LedgeStone Country Club at StoneBridge Village, 417.335.8187
  • Top of the Rock Golf Course, 417.339.5343
  • Branson Hills Golf Club, 417.337.2963
  • Holiday Hills Resort and Golf Club, 417.334.4838
  • Don Gardner Golf Course, 417.337.8510 

About Explore Branson

Branson is a one-of-a-kind family vacation destination nestled in the lakeside beauty of the Ozark Mountains — and an incredible value — with dozens of live performance theaters, three pristine lakes, an international award-winning theme park, dozens of attractions and museums, a Historic Downtown district, a Town Center-style shopping complex, a full range of dining options, and a host of hotels, motels, resorts, RV parks, campgrounds and meeting and conference facilities.
Branson is less than one day's drive for one-third of America’s residents. With low-cost flights to the Branson Airport (BKG – and nearby Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF), it has never been easier to access Branson.
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