Branson, Missouri, must be an interesting piece of the great American pie. The city is named for its founder, a postmaster and general store owner. From its country music-theater beginnings in the late 1960s to the explosion of that genre in the late 1980s and 1990s, Branson gained a place for itself on the map, but, where exactly is that place?
For starters, it's south of Kansas City. And west of Nashville. And east of Tulsa. In essence, it occupies its own little part of Mark Twain's America. It's a country-music mecca, where theaters owned by the talent blend with shopping and amusement parks. It's adjacent to where Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, decided to create his own golf mecca, at Big Cedar Lodge. Located 10 miles south of the city center, Big Cedar Lodge is home to three championship courses and two short layouts.
With deference to Bill Coore and Tom Fazio, the golf course that people want to play will undoubtedly be Tiger Woods' Payne's Valley. Honoring the late Payne Stewart, an Ozarks native, TGR Design's first public-access course will have many eyes on it when it opens for full play in late 2020.
As mentioned, there are five courses at Big Cedar Lodge, making it a unique destination. It's possible to travel to Big Cedar Lodge and play the Mountain Top and Top of the Rock par-three courses as warm-up or cool-down, combined with another round at Buffalo Ridge Springs, Ozarks National, or Payne's Valley, and never visit the town. Possible, but not likely.
In Branson itself, there is plenty of mini-golf, simulator golf, and driving ranges to satisfy all comers. This is a vacation destination, remember, so the quick-hit golf experiences are a necessity. If you find yourself in Branson, say, with family, and you know that you need to play Payne's Valley, it's time for the parlay. Book the round at PV for yourself, and schedule another at an in-town course, with a father-in-law or some other, strategic member of the tribe. If you've arrived for a golf bonanza, you know what to do!
Here's a list of area courses and the rate you'll pay to play.
Big Cedar Lodge
Ozarks National $195
Top Of The Rock $135
Mountain Top $60
Payne's Valley (Preview Play Only)
Thousand Hills Resort $50-$80
The Pointe @ Pointe Royale $50-$80
Branson Hills $80-$140