For sports enthusiasts, Spring in North America is marked by NCAA March Madness and the Final Four, MLB Spring Training camps and Opening Day, and a long-awaited return to the links heralded by golf’s esteemed Masters Tournament in April. 

For amateur golfers, whether you’re a scratch golfer or a casual duffer like me, the verdant green and undulating curves of a perfectly manicured golf course are a most welcome sight after a long, gray winter. And, if you’ve been dreaming of your nextgolf vacation, Spring is the time to start planning.

Legends of Golf Tournament Green
Legends of Golf  Tournament at Top of the Rock 
Photo Courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge

One golfing destination that may not be on your radar is Branson, Missouri. Yes, that Branson –better known for its bright lights and music, Branson is not only the family entertainment capital of the Midwest but also a golfer’s dream.

Championship Golf at Big Cedar Lodge 

Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist, Johnny Morris, has teamed up with the biggest names in golf to bring Branson up to par with world-class links. Morris’ love of golf and nature comes together at Big Cedar Lodge with award-winning golf courses designed by Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and, coming soon, the first public 18-hole championship course designed by Tiger Woods.

Ozarks NationalatBig Cedar Lodge

Adding to an incredible list of world-class golf courses, Ozark’s National is Missouri’s first and only 18-hole golf course designed by Ben Crenshaw and architect Bill Coore. At 7,036 yards from the back tees, the course showcases the terrain of theOzarks with breathtaking views.On April 22-28, 2019, Ozarks National and Top of the Rock hosts the sixth playing of theBass Pro Shops Legends of Golf Tournament.

Payne’s Valley Course

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris collaborating with Tiger Woods and the Payne Stewart family to produce America’s first TGR Design public access golf course. The extraordinary 19th hole known as “The Rock” is set on a natural cavern system whichtakes you to the clubhouse after completing the 19th hole. This dramatic geological wonder is a unique feature you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Buffalo Ridge Springs 

Designed by Tom Fazio, this course is recognized as one of the region’s top golf courses by GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest. Itwas purchased in 2009 by Bass Pro Shops founder and visionary conservationist Johnny Morris. With a shared passion for nature and golf, Morris and Fazio redesigned the course to highlight the abundance of nature and wildlife in the Ozarks, including native grasses and free-ranging buffalo from nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Even if you’re a duffer like me, this course is a must-see!

Sunset above Table Rock
Sunset at Top of the Rock
Photo by Priscilla Willis

“During your visit to Big Cedar or Top of the Rock, be sure to catch the Top of the Rock sunset celebration. Witness a magical moment as a traditional bagpiper plays in the background, the sky above Table Rock Lake a blaze of color, the sun’s last glistening rays announced by the roar of a Civil War cannon as you raise your glass.” -Pricilla Willis

Top of the Rock Course

Finally, there’s the Jack Nicklaus’ signature course known as the first Par-3 course included in a professional championship. Top of the RockGolf Course is one of the first courses that was created over a period of seven and a half years with the help of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Arnold Palmer. The Top of the Rock driving range is also an Arnold Palmer design.World-class golf is just a 15-minute scenic drive from downtown Branson, so start planning your visit now. For more information and to book tee times, visit Big Cedar Lodge’s website