Big Cedar Lodge: The Perfect Golf Destination for Families
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Mountain Top Golf Course at Big Cedar Lodge (Photo courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge)
One of golf’s most iconic spots for both a great golf vacation and a memorable trip for the entire family is Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri. Set in the heart of the epic Ozark Mountains, Big Cedar has everything a golfer could want, and more than enough other amenities to make the entire family want to come back again and again.
PGA Associate, Matt McQueary, Big Cedar’s Director of Golf Sales & Marketing, explains why this is a can’t miss getaway for the entire family:
“It has to be all the amenities at the resort in addition to the golf. There is so much to do here. I tell golfers all the time that this is the sort of resort you could bring a family to, and even if no one else in the family plays golf, everyone will find something fun to do. We offer so many outdoor activities: golf, mini golf, bass fishing, fly fishing, water sports, shooting, hiking, nature trails, cave tours, pickleball, and more. Plus, for indoor options there is a fantastic history museum full of regional historical artifacts and a giant indoor entertainment complex with bowling, arcade games, golf simulators, bumper cars, ropes course, and more. There is really something for everyone. On the golf side, we have two great par 3 courses that are great for junior and beginner golfers but can also offer a challenge to more skilled players. Plus, we have over 10 different restaurants and places to eat, we have a lot of great options for all types of appetites.”
One of the most unique things about the resort is the list of designers. Fazio, Nicklaus, Player, Coore & Crenshaw, and now Tiger Woods.
“They are some of the biggest names in golf design and professional golf. No other resort has a list of designers with more green jackets than Big Cedar. And to top it off, all of the courses are very unique with different looks, feels, and playing styles.” McQueary said.
The Courses at Big Cedar Lodge
Inspired by a deep desire to connect people to nature, Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, set out to create one of the greatest golf experiences in the country. With the trademark, NATURE'S FINEST™ in describing the courses that Big Cedar Lodge has to offer, Morris brought in some of the top names in golf: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, to layout the five courses, along with their practice facilities, to Big Cedar.
Payne’s Valley is an homage to Ozarks-native and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Payne Stewart. It is the first public-access golf course designed by 4-time PGA Champion Tiger Woods and his golf course design firm, TGR Design.
Through the creation of Payne’s Valley Golf Course, Tiger Woods and Big Cedar Lodge offers a course where players of all skill levels are invited to come together to experience the breathtaking Ozark Mountain Landscape. Here, you can enjoy pristine water features, large fairways and greens, and the spectacular 19th hole—the Big Rock at Payne’s Valley™.
Ozarks National is Missouri’s first and only golf course designed by architect duo, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Measuring 7,036 yards from the back tees, this 18-hole course represents all of what the Ozarks terrain has to show.
From challenging and beautiful views from the tee, to a variety of visually appealing approach shots, you will be in awe of the native habitat that surrounds you. One of the courses most notable features is a 400-foot wooden beam and plank bridge, which connects the tee box and fairway of the 13th hole that stands 60-feet above a flowing creek.
Buffalo Ridge has been transformed by the guiding hands of visionary conservationist Johnny Morris and renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio, who redesigned the course layout to immerse players into the striking nature around them. Praised as a top golf course in the region, the 18-hole championship course showcases the charm of the Ozarks with rich native grasses, natural rock formations, caves and creeks, lakes and waterfalls and free-ranging North American bison from nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.
This short, 13-hole course lacks nothing short of a remarkable experience for golfers. The layout comes from the combination of talents and vision between Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist Johnny Morris and World Golf Hall of Fame legend Gary Player. Intertwined through unforgettable rock formations, the Mountain Top Course includes some of the most dramatic views in the Ozarks. With thousands of hours put into pick and shovel excavations, 300-million-year-old limestone formations were revealed, adding to the unparalleled, over-the-top experience that is the Mountain Top Course. Morris and Player created this renowned golf experience with all skill levels in mind.
Top of the Rock
A Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, Top of the Rock Golf Course is the first-ever par-3 course to be included in a professional championship.
Settled high above Table Rock Lake, players can revel in the celebration of nature around them with peaceful waterfalls, wandering creeks, bass-filled ponds and pristine lakes. Keep an eye out for Arnie’s Barn, a magnificent 150-year-old barn relocated from Arnold Palmer’s backyard in Latrobe, PA—complete with historic photos and memorabilia from the legend’s great career achievements.
The Tom Watson Putting Course
Another very cool part of the golf landscape at Big Cedar is the Tom Watson Putting Course. Watson, a Missouri-native and World Golf Hall of Fame legend, designed this unique feature at Big Cedar. It is said that Watson was inspired by the historic Himalayas putting grounds at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Sitting high atop the Ozark Mountains, Watson’s masterpiece at Big Cedar Lodge covers over one acre of land near the Mountain Top Club House. The course consists of nine challenging holes sure to test any golfers putting skills.
McQueary stressed that it was important for people to understand one thing, above and beyond the breathtaking golf and other amenities that Big Cedar has to offer:
“One part of Big Cedar that people don’t expect is how absolutely beautiful the area is. We are in the Ozark Mountains, with rolling, green hills, and countless lakes and streams. The terrain paints a unique and breathtaking backdrop. The experience you get here, through this incredible natural setting, makes you feel like you are miles away from any worry that everyday life throws at you.”