Big Cedar Lodge: Tee Off in Paradise

by | Nov 15, 2023 | Where to Play

Unveiling the Golfing Splendor at Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge is a golfer’s dream destination in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, offering an unparalleled blend of world-class golfing, luxurious accommodations, and exquisite dining. This pristine resort, located just outside Branson, Missouri, is a haven for those seeking an unforgettable golf and travel experience.

This golfing destination has a rich history that intertwines with the resort’s broader story. Originally conceived by Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, the vision for Big Cedar Lodge and its golf courses began taking shape in the late 1980s. Morris, a golf and travel enthusiast, wanted to create a world-class destination that combined the beauty of the Ozark Mountains with the challenge and serenity of golf. Today, The Big Cedar Golf experience has evolved into multiple courses uniquely designed to blend with the natural surroundings.

Payne’s Valley: A Golfing Masterpiece at Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge

Payne’s Valley at Big Cedar Lodge holds a distinct allure as a truly special golf course, and its uniqueness lies in its tribute to golfing legend Payne Stewart and the visionary design by Tiger Woods and his TGR Design team. Beyond the stunning layout and challenging holes, Payne’s Valley is a poignant homage to a Missouri native who left an indelible mark on the sport. The course features dramatic elevation changes, meandering water features, and expansive fairways, all carefully crafted to showcase the natural beauty of the Ozarks. What makes Payne’s Valley exceptional is its seamless integration of golfing excellence with a reverence for the game’s history, creating an emotional and immersive experience for players. As golfers navigate the course, they not only face the challenges laid out by Woods’ design but also connect with the legacy of Payne Stewart, making each swing a tribute to the sport’s rich heritage. Payne’s Valley is more than a golf course; it’s a living tribute, a testament to the synergy of design, nature, and golfing history that makes it a profoundly special destination for enthusiasts seeking a memorable and meaningful round.

Payne’s Valley boasts the awe-inspiring 19th Wonder of the World – Big Rock at Payne’s Valley, where a dramatic par-3 bonus hole awaits. Experience an unforgettable moment on this exciting island green, located at the base of a majestic limestone rock wall, complete with stunning cascading waterfalls.

Top of the Rock Golf Course: Jack Nicklaus’s Par-3 Marvel

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Top of the Rock Golf Course proudly stands as the first-ever Par-3 course to be featured in a professional championship, the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, a PGA TOUR Champions event.

Thanks to its status as a par-3 masterpiece designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, Top of the Rock at Big Cedar Lodge holds a special place among golf courses. Perched atop the picturesque Ozark Mountains overlooking Table Rock Lake, each hole presents a unique golfing challenge and treats players to breathtaking panoramic views, creating a memorable experience. This fusion of challenging play, Nicklaus’s design brilliance, and the awe-inspiring scenery make Top of the Rock a truly special course. The strategic design ensures that Top of the Rock offers an unforgettable round in a way that few courses can emulate.

At Top of the Rock, visitors can marvel at Arnie’s Barn, an impressive 150-year-old structure that was moved from Arnold Palmer’s backyard in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. This magnificent barn showcases a stunning collection of historic photos and memorabilia from Palmer’s illustrious career, making it an absolute must-see for any golf enthusiast.

Buffalo Ridge Course: A Tom Fazio’s Masterpiece

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The Buffalo Ridge Course at Big Cedar Lodge stands tall as the first course ever built on the property. With its redesign by renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio, the course offers an immersive experience, allowing players to soak in majestic natural surroundings.

With Team Fazio at the helm, the golf course design boasts an impressive visual flair. The course features holes cut through the exposed limestone outcroppings, providing breathtaking views of the sprawling Ozarks. With its awe-inspiring beauty and breathtaking natural surroundings, this championship-level course has earned its reputation as one of the premier courses in the country. Featuring rich native grasses, natural rock formations, caves, creeks, picturesque lakes, waterfalls, and free-ranging North American bison –  this experience cannot be missed. The course’s impeccable conditioning and strategic layout provide a challenging yet immensely rewarding golfing experience.

Mountain Top Course: Possibly the Best Walk in Golf

Big Cedar Lodge

The founder of Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris, and golf legend Gary Player collaborated to create Mountain Top Course. Experience an unforgettable round of golf with the breathtaking infinity greens and majestic Ozarks backdrop, complemented by the striking table rock formations.

The team’s tireless efforts were unwavering as they dedicated thousands of hours to excavating the 300-million-year-old limestone formations, ensuring that no detail was overlooked. Their dedicated efforts resulted in a remarkable 13-hole walking course boasting breathtaking views of the Ozarks and stunning rock formations that will leave you in awe. This golfing experience is truly unforgettable and one that every golfer should relish.

Ozarks National: Big Cedar Lodge’s Coore-Crenshaw Collaboration

Big Cedar Lodge

Missouri and Big Cedar Lodge golf have never been the same since the arrival of Ozarks National – the only golf course in the state designed by the world-class architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

Experience the ultimate challenge with a layout that spans over 7,000 yards, showcasing the magnificent Ozarks terrain in all its glory. The course unfolds like a natural masterpiece, with rolling fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and undulating greens that emphasize the inherent beauty of the Ozarks. The layout respects the land’s natural contours, creating an authentic golfing experience where players not only navigate the game’s challenges but also experience the raw and unspoiled wilderness that defines the region.

Whether you’re seeking a championship-level challenge or simply aiming to enjoy the serenity of the outdoors, Ozarks National at Big Cedar Lodge delivers a golfing experience that goes beyond the ordinary. No visit to Big Cedar Lodge should be considered complete without a round (or two) at Ozarks National.

Photos Courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Alan Darty</a>

Alan Darty

Alan is the founder and publisher of Golf One Media and the former publisher of eSouthernGOLF—a second-generation Florida native who loves all things Florida. You can usually find him with his wife, watching their two daughters coaching volleyball at Oviedo (FL) High School or Mississippi State University when he's not golfing, hunting, or fishing.