Branson, MO – 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, thanks to opening new, astounding golf courses year over year for the past several, and garnering a parade of best-of honors from national and international golf media.
The latest distinction comes from GOLF Magazine (GOLF) via its biennial “Best Courses in Every State, 2020-2021” that was published this week. Big Cedar Lodge’s Ozarks National (Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design) ranks third out of five courses listed. All four of the other Missouri courses included are private, meaning that GOLF rates Ozarks National as the state’s No. 1 public golf course. GOLF also ranks Ozarks National as one of its “Top 100 Golf Resort Courses.”
Wrote one GOLF Top 100 Course Rater about Ozarks National: “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. Too many other modern designers would have bulldozed the landscape to mitigate the blind shots – not Coore and Crenshaw! Therefore, the overall feeling is quite natural – and the long vistas are stunning. Very wide fairways mitigate the big slopes but strategic bunkering and complex greens lend challenge and variety. The ground game is alive and well at Ozarks National.”
This isn’t the first top ranking for Ozarks National, which garnered “Best New Public Course in America” upon opening in 2019. Earlier this year – along with three other Branson Golf venues – it was rated No. 1 in Missouri by Golfweek. Buffalo Ridge (Tom Fazio-Johnny Morris design), Branson Hills (Chuck Smith), and LedgeStone (Tom Clark) joined it to hold four of the state’s top 10 spots, including the top three.
“You know you’re in the Ozarks, and it was our job to compliment that, with the way that the holes fit together, and the directions they are going,” said Crenshaw. “We’re very proud of [Ozarks National].”
Branson Golf’s six other good to great championship course playing options include Payne’s Valley (Tiger Woods) which opened in September 2020; Top of the Rock (Jack Nicklaus); Mountain Top (Gary Player); Thousand Hills (Bob Cupp); The Pointe; and Holiday HIlls. All are open to the public and close to one another.
Payne’s Valley, Mountain Top, Buffalo Ridge, Top of the Rock, and Ozarks National are Big Cedar Lodge courses.
GOLF 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. From judging posts across four continents, our panelists are positioned to place courses from different regions around the globe in proper context, one of the main reasons our rankings are the most esteemed in the game.”