Branson, Missouri – Yup, Branson – been there!!
I am going to go out on a limb and guess that Branson, Missouri is not top of mind as your next golf destination to visit. I might even think that for most of us in the east, Branson has never been on our minds at all! It should be!
Sure you may have seen that the Champions Tour makes an annual stop there for the ‘Bass Pro Shops – Legends of Golf’ event but that does not even come close to giving you the “I need to go there” feeling! Watch this little video and then tell me!!!!
Let’s give Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shop, all the credit in the world for putting Branson on the map from a golf standpoint with his award winning Big Cedar Lodge overlooking Table Rock Lake and the three (for now) unique and spectacular courses set in the Ozark Mountains which leads the way in making Branson America’s next Great Golf Destination!
Currently there is Top of the Rock, a 9-hole Jack Nicklaus par 3 course, which hosts the Champions Tour. The 13-hole Gary Player designed Mountain Top Course is also utilized for the Champions Tour event and the 18-hole Tom Fazio designed Buffalo Ridges Springs Course keeps you in awe from tee to green! I certainly was! This was the only course of the Big Cedar family that I played, and awe it was! I did tour the others and was provided with a firsthand view of what was to come…
…Coming this September is the opening of Ozark National, a Coore & Crenshaw design (think Bandon, Cabot Cliffs, Streamsong). Fast forward one year and we will see the opening of Payne’s Valley, a tribute to my hero Payne Stewart, a family friend of Mr. Morris from nearby Springfield and this is the first public course designed by Tiger Woods! www.bigcedar.com
From the current Mountain Top clubhouse you will be able to access both of the new courses!
More golf for traveling golfers in Branson!
Just minutes from downtown Branson, by the way almost everything is just minutes from downtown, is Branson Hills Golf Club, a collaborated effort of Chuck Smith and Bobby Clampett, taking full advantage of its Ozark setting profiling natural rock outcroppings, waterfalls, creeks and tree lined fairways. www.bransonhillsgolfclub.com
Formerly the original Payne Stewart course of the area, being a big Payne fan – knickers and all, it was a pretty special feeling and I played particularly well! Hmmm wonder why… perhaps there was a little birdie over my shoulder.
Pointe Royale or “The Pointe” as the course is referred to, is the original 18-hole course in the area. A semi private track set along the banks of Lake Taneycomo, this is a shot maker’s course. Water comes into play on 12 holes, combine that with mature tree lined fairways and the 6,500 yard par 70 design offers up the perfect combination of beauty and challenge. www.pointeroyalegolf.net/
Perhaps the biggest surprise and most pleasant was the Ledgestone Country Club which Golf Digest describes as a “masterpiece of mountain golf architecture.” I concur!!
Immaculately manicured, at this course you are allowed an extra club in the bag and that club is in the form of a camera. If you don’t bring a camera (and these days there is no reason for that!) you will be oh so disappointed. The Ozark Mountain setting provides for yet another mesmerizing day on the links. www.ledgestonegolf.com
A special treat for those of you that might want to be on a golf course and remain within Branson’s city limits and the 76 Strip with its world renowned live music shows is the Thousand Hills Golf Resort. The resort boasts what they call the greatest par 64 course in the world and Golf Digest perhaps agrees giving this Robert Cupp design a 4 star rating! Sometimes a Par 64 course is just what the doctor ordered in a place like Branson. With so many shows, attractions and dining options you often find yourself running out of time! www.thousandhillsgolf.com
When you plan to visit Branson remember one thing, you will run out of time before you run out of things to do! Think little big town, (no, not the band) I am sure it must have been called a mini Las Vegas without the smut. Branson is definitely your family friendly destination.
And little big town it is, nothing is too far away if you are staying in Branson. I stayed at the oh so convenient Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing on Lake Taneycomo with waterfront shopping, bars, restaurants, and the old downtown district at your doorstep.
The “Live” Entertainment Capital of America leaves you wanting to come back for more! I certainly had a full agenda over my few days. For over 50 years live shows have been a staple for visitors to Branson. Blues is generally my go to genre but I do like a little country and was overwhelmed with my evening at “Raiding the Country Vault.” Very talented performers take you through a journey of the greatest hits of Country Music.
After a morning at Branson Hills, a little lunch at Pasghettis where you walk through the world’s largest meatball into high rise street side but inside themed rooms. You just gotta see it. Delicious! Right next door is the largest collections of authentic Titanic artifacts at the Titanic Museum Attraction. A must stop, this is a one of a kind experience! John Joslyn, the museum owner co-led the second expedition to the Titanic wreck site and produced the first television show with the first Titanic images from the bottom of the ocean.
Then we were off to a little bluegrass (hee haw – see video) before Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction. Although a hands only and alcohol free dining experience it remains a most popular dinner attraction. A most energetic and enthusiastic performance with magnificent horses, top notch riders, daring feats of trick riding and competition along with some comical relief of racing pigs and canine capers!
I hate to say that my hosts were saving the best for last…but, there is a reason as to why The Haygoods have been performing for over 25 years. They must have started when they were 10! The band is made up of five brothers and one sister performing on 20 instruments. I’m not sure that there is one genre that they leave out! Stunning visual effects and a state of the art stage presentation is the backdrop to an amazing array of musical styles, performed with more energy and excitement than anything you have ever experienced! They play the hits of today’s Country, Rock and Pop artists along with the music of the last five decades.
There is never a dull moment in Branson! Great golf, over the top shows and attractions. Who would have thought!?! Get your fix, you can start by visiting www.explorebranson.com