Big Cedar Lodge, Mountain Top Golf Course
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Ultimate Golf Photo Tour: Branson Golf

Big Cedar Lodge, Mountain Top Golf Course
Criteria for most bucket-list destinations are that they must include a variety of top-notch golf courses in close proximity to one another, that they hold critical acclaim and that the region offer an abundance of restaurants, lodging and after-golf diversions.

Branson, located in the southwest Missouri Ozarks near Springfield and the Arkansas border, checks all of those boxes, but has something that other locations lack: Tiger Woods’ first public course, Payne’s Valley; several new courses opening in the past five years; and an ever-growing collection of high-profile competitions.

 (Photo: Branson Golf)
Big Cedar Lodge, Payne's Valley Golf Course — Hole Nos. 8 and 9
Big Cedar Lodge is the jewel of Branson Golf and is the creation of founder Johnny Morris, a noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder. Morris has not skimped in attempting to put Branson Golf firmly on the destinations map.

Big Cedar Lodge features five courses, the latest being Tiger Woods’ Payne’s Valley, which opened this year to high acclaim and is the first public-access course in the U.S. designed by Woods’ TGR Design. Ozarks National, which was a collaborative design between Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, was named “America’s Best New Public Course 2019” by Golf Digest.

Big Cedar also includes Top of the Rock (a Jack Nicklaus design), Mountain Top (a Gary Player design), and Buffalo Ridge (a Tom Fazio and Johnny Morris design).

 (Photo: Hornstein Creative)
Big Cedar Lodge, Buffalo Ridge
Accolades for Branson Golf courses in 2020 have shown that it’s not just Big Cedar Lodge that makes the destination a must. Four Branson courses were rated among the top 10 in Missouri by Golfweek in its 2020 state “Best Courses You Can Play” rankings: Ozarks National (No. 1), Buffalo Ridge (No. 2), Branson Hills (No. 3) and LedgeStone (No. 7). Additionally, Ozarks National and Buffalo Ridge were selected to Golfweek’s 2020 “Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play” ranking, at Nos. 63 and 82, respectively.

Thousand Hills, The Pointe and Holiday Hills complete Branson Golf’s roster of 10 courses, and each has earned appreciation for playability and value.

 (Photo: Branson Golf)
Big Cedar Lodge, Ozarks National
Two 2020 PGA Tour Champions events were played in Branson, including the Bass Pro Shop Big Cedar Lodge at Ozarks National that was won by Phil Mickelson in his Champions Tour debut in late August.

In September, the Payne’s Valley Cup pitted Americans Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas against Europeans Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.

 (Photo: Branson Golf)
Branson Hills Golf Club — Hole No. 16
Branson Hills Golf Club, which was designed by Chuck Smith and Bobby Clampett, has hosted the state amateur championship and has been a constant on Golfweek’s “Best Courses You Can Play” list for Missouri. The par-3 16th hole is as challenging as it is scenic, with an extremely narrow putting surface guarded by sand bunker and water in the front.

 (Photo: Branson Golf)
Holiday Hills Golf Club
Holiday Hills Golf Club is the oldest course in the Branson Golf portfolio. In 1938, Don Gardner, a noted professional from the Chicago area, and his wife, Jill, created the Golf Ranch Country Club, which is now Holiday Hills. Today, Holiday Hills is a player-friendly course [par 68, 5,771 yards] that is affordable and a casual player favorite.

The Pointe is a daily-fee course located inside Pointe Royale Golf Village, which sits on the banks of Lake Taneycomo. The par-71, 6,515-yard course is noted for its putting surfaces that place a premium on the flat stick.

Thousand Hills Golf Resort was designed by Bob Cupp and is one of the area’s favorite courses due to a collection of diverse, fun and compelling holes. Also, don’t be deceived by the scorecard, which shows Thousand Hills as a par 66. It’s still a stout test of golf.

LedgeStone Country Club was once a private country club, but is now open to the public and is regularly voted as one of Missouri’s best by Golfweek course raters. LedgeStone is a thrilling course that routes up, down and around dramatic terrain. Hole names such as Temptation, Deception, and Sidewinder are indicative of the excitement to come.  

 (Photo: Branson Golf)
Big Cedar Lodge, Top Of The Rock Golf Course
Perched above Table Rock Lake sits Top of the Rock Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus par-3 design that offers incredible views. The course is so good that it was played as a part of the PGA Tour Champions’ Legends of Golf when that tournament was played at Big Cedar Lodge.

 (Photo: Big Cedar Lodge)