Located deep within the Ozark Mountains of Missouri lies an unexpected destination that just might be the next big thing in golf. Big Cedar Lodge, both a nature enthusiast and sportsman’s dream escape, stretches along the shores of Table Rock Lake, and has long been hailed as America’s premier wilderness resort.
Johnny Morris, noted conservationist and founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, purchased Big Cedar Lodge in 1987 with the intent of creating a place for families to reconnect with nature. Over the years, Big Cedar Lodge has greatly expanded its offerings but Morris’ vision to create a wilderness resort as a place where conservation and family traditions come together has remained at the heart of the resort’s mission.
Within moments of entering the property, it is easy to see that nature was the muse behind the resort’s design. A winding entry road takes you deep within the forested hills of the Ozarks calling you to slow down and take in the surrounding beauty, as the road travels over trickling water crossings showcasing stunning vistas. As you take your last turn, the scene opens to reveal a hidden oasis: secluded cabins tucked into the hillside, rustic lodges that blend seamlessly into their wooded backdrop, a charming chapel reminiscent of your grandparent’s country church and a collection of restaurants and activities that are thoughtfully placed to not disrupt of the natural splendor of the land.
Over the years, Big Cedar Lodge has further expanded its commitment to connecting people with the great outdoors by redefining golf in the Ozarks. Five distinct courses are a vision of Morris and five of the biggest names in golf: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Gary Player, Coore & Crenshaw and Tiger Woods. Through these masterful collaborations, no detail has been spared in creating a multi-course destination that beautifully embraces the natural landscape with exposed rock croppings, waterfalls and stunning Ozark Mountain views. Recently named the “#1 Golf Resort for Families” by GOLF Magazine, each of the Big Cedar courses artfully showcases designs to welcome golfers of all different skill levels, providing breathtaking views with every shot.
Top of the Rock by Jack Nicklaus
Top of the Rock, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, is the first-ever Par-3 course included in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event, and features nature and golf at its finest. Perched high above Table Rock Lake, the peaceful waterfalls, wandering creeks, bass filled ponds and pristine lakes of Top of the Rock complete a true celebration of nature, the Ozarks and the game of golf.
Buffalo Ridge Springs by Tom Fazio
Matching the beauty of Top of the Rock is the Tom Fazio-designed Buffalo Ridge Springs Course (formerly Branson Creek Golf Club). Acclaimed as one of the region’s top golf courses, Buffalo Ridge has been transformed by visionary Johnny Morris and renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio. Adding new approaches, water features and bunkers, Morris and Fazio have redesigned the course layout to bring players in close contact with nature, native grasses and free-ranging bison from nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. The course has been rated the #1 Public Course in Missouri by Golf Magazine and holds a Golf Digest rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.
Mountain Top by Gary Player
World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player and Johnny Morris teamed up to create a world-class, family-friendly golf course that opened at Big Cedar Lodge in August 2017. The 13-hole course was designed to bring a more accessible experience to families, juniors and golfers who are learning the game as it routes through unforgettable rock formations and includes some of the best vistas in the region.
Ozarks National by Coore and Crenshaw
The golf course architect team of Coore & Crenshaw share Johnny Morris’ passion and appreciation for nature and conservation, making Ozarks National a striking display for the senses and a fitting tribute to the Ozarks region. Designed to test avid players and golf travelers from around the country and provide the perfect complement to the existing 18-hole layout at Buffalo Ridge Springs. The course was recently named the “Best New Public Course in America” by Golf Digest and serves as a gateway to the Ozarks National Forest, cementing Big Cedar Lodge as America’s next great golf destination
Payne’s Valley by Tiger Woods & TGR Design
Named in honor of the late Payne Stewart, the new Payne’s Valley golf course will be the first fully public-access course in the world completed by Tiger Woods’ design firm TGR Design. A partnership between Johnny Morris, Tiger Woods and the Payne Stewart Family, the course will showcase the region’s natural beauty through a 19-hole championship course. Payne’s Valley is currently open for preview play, with more holes being added as completed. A grand opening event will be planned when the course officially opens for public play.