BRANSON, Missouri – When Ozarks National, one of the group of courses connected to Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri, opened in 2019 it was chosen “Best Public Course in America” by Golf Digest. Early in 2020 the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design was rated #1 in Missouri by Golfweek.
The year 2020 has been many things, not the least of which has been the ascension of Branson Golf as one of the country’s most compelling destinations, thank to opening new, astounding courses year after year for the past several, and garnering a parade of best-of-honors from national and international golf media. Payne’s Valley, Tiger Woods design and tribute to Payne Stewart opened in 2020.
The latest distinction comes from GOLF magazine via its biennial “Best Courses in Every State, 2020-2021” that was recently published. Big Cedar Lodge’s Ozarks National ranks third out of five courses listed. All four of the other Missouri courses are private, meaning that GOLF magazine rates Ozarks National as the state’s No.1 public golf course, ranking it as one of its “Top 100 Golf Resort Courses.” The Tom Fazio-Johnny Morris codesigned Buffalo Ridge, Branson Hills by Chuck Smith, and Tom Clark’s Ledgstone joined it to hold four of the state’s top 10 spots.
Despite the severity of the property, Coore and Crenshaw created an intimate routing in which holes lay firmly on the rugged ridges that encompass the area. This creates several blind shots and more than a few uphill ones–a couple to skyline greens. The overall feeling is quite natural–and the long vistas are stunning. Very wide fairways mitigate the big slopes but strategic bunkering and green complexes lend challenge and variety. The ground game is alive and well at Ozarks National.
“You know you are in the Ozarks, and it was our job to complement that, with the way the holes fit together, and the directions they are going,” said Crenshaw. “We’re very proud of Oaks National.”
GOLF Magazine describes its best-of-ratings program and panelists as follows: “We empower and hold accountable a group of 97 well-traveled- and well connected-golfers/aficionados, each capable of expressing their own sense of design excellence at the highest level. The group is seasoned and experienced–we look for raters who know what’s out there, what’s changing and what’s coming down the pike.”
“Branson is an exciting destination where there’s something for everyone: dozens of live performance theatres, 3 pristine lakes, an historic downtown district, breweries and wineries, a full range of dining options, outdoor adventure, and more,” says Lynn Berry, Director of Communications, Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau. Branson is a one-of-a-kind family vacation destination nestled in the lakeside beauty of the Ozark Mountains–an incredible value–a host of hotels, motels, resorts, RV parks, campgrounds, meeting and conference facilities. Branson is less than a 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.