190 Top of the Rock Road, Ridgedale, Missouri 65739, US
(800) 225-6343
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About Big Cedar Lodge

Set in the Ozarks near the entertainment mecca of Branson, Missouri is Big Cedar Lodge, a 4,600-acre natural playground owned by Bass Pro Shops Founder and Ozarks native Johnny Morris. Since originally opening as a small riverfront resort in the 1920s, today Big Cedar Lodge is one of the largest U.S. golf resorts with three regulation-length courses, two short courses, a remarkable driving range and putting course (as well as mini golf). Morris has amassed a legendary group of golfers to design his golf product: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods. Morris also acquired an 18-hole course originally designed by Tom Fazio. The resort overlooks Table Rock Lake and has a marina as well as a variety of outdoor activities to choose from including shooting, fishing, horseback riding and much more. There is a kids adventure club and plenty of things for the family to do outside, including pickleball and six swimming pools and hot tubs. Accommodations range from guest rooms and suites to cabins and glamping. New in 2021 are the remodeled Angler's Lodge and the new 1- to 4-bedroom Buffalo Ridge cottages overlooking Payne's Valley, the new course by Woods. Missouri's Big Cedar Lodge and Top of the Rock facilities have made the Ozarks of southeast Missouri one of the country's most coveted golf escapes.

Facts

Price Range$$$
Property Class★★★★
Acres4600
Year Opened1921
Number of Units100-300

Amenities

RestaurantsBar, Fine, Casual
Room TypesRoom, Suite
Short CourseYes
Fitness CenterYes
Practice FacilityYes
MarinaYes
Beach AccessYes
Golf School/AcademyYes
Banquet SpaceYes
SpaYes

Services

Kids ProgramYes
Room ServiceYes
ConciergeYes

Rules

Is the resort pet friendly?No
Is resort stay required for a tee time?No

Golf courses at Big Cedar Lodge

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Reviews

4.6
89 Reviews (89)

Reviewer Photos

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Overall Rating
Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender
Played On
Reviews 35
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Perfect weather
Used cart

kc boys

Excellent course from the conditions to the staff. We played all three courses in the cedar lodge area and they all have very attentive marshals, cart girls, starters, and bag staff is top notch. We never encountered any negativity from any staff anywhere on all 3 courses. Who ever does the hiring and training of all aspects of the courses should be commended.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 35
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Perfect weather
Used cart

kc boys

Great course even though a little pricey. The 19th hole and the ride up to the clubhouse reminds you of being on a ride at Disneyworld. Even though a little costly for our group we will probably be back at some time.

Conditions Excellent
Value Average
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 35
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
First Time Playing
Perfect weather
Used cart

kc boys

Everything was great from the staff to the course layout.
These were probably the worst greens we played on all year and we play all over the country. Weeds , bare patches and ball marks everywhere. The greens at Ozark national and paynes valley were 10 times better. Scenery and course other than that were a 10.

Conditions Average
Value Good
Layout Good
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 9
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Used cart

Best of the big three

My 1st choice in the area. Every hole is a postcard. Very challenging and fun to play. Course conditions were top of the line. If you are looking for a quick round, not the course to play. Everyone is taking pictures and enjoying the round. A lot of trouble if you don't hit straight.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Average
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 9
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Windy weather
Used cart

Hardest of the big three

After playing Paynes Valley the cart boy said we were in for a big change and challenge at Ozarks so we asked him what he meant. He said: " narrow fairways, elevation changes and blind shots." And boy he wasn't kidding. In our group, I think I heard the same comment after every hole. "Boy, if I played this again I would definitely approach it differently." If you are trying to score well a forecaddy would be worth the money. The conditions were nice but with being past my prime a few of the carrys' were challenging.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Average
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Good
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 9
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Windy weather
Used cart

Better than previous ratings

I agree with the previous write up. Was not expecting much from the ratings. But it exceeded all expectations.
Really good players will find it boring because it's wide open with a lot of room in the fairways. Every hole is a postcard. The 19th hole might be a gimmick but it was fun to play and the ride after that was extraordinary. Very winding the day we played so it added a little more challenge but I didn't feel it needed any more of a challenge. Played all three courses, Buffalo Ridge and Orarks National and this was the easiest but by no means a walk in the park. I'm from upstate NY so mountains are nothing new but this was an entirely different kind of experience.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Average
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 14
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
First Time Playing

Visually stunning - perfect conditions !

Prior to playing this course I ALMOST let the overall 3.4 rating sway me from playing it. Thankfully, I relied on past experience with inaccurate ratings to guide me to give it a shot. The fairways were perfect , ( you can’t get a bad lie!) the greens were quick and true. Bunkers were consistent . The fairways were generous and every other hole is a postcard ! Yes it was a five hour round but just more time to take pictures and replay the previous hole with playing partners ! I’ve played 48 of the golf digest top 100 in the country and believe me - you don’t want to pass this one up !

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Good
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Fair
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 1
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing

Amazing course

This was an amazing experience. The course was in great shape and one of the best courses I have ever played. The beverage girl ( Taylor Yakes) made our experience great! I would definitely play this course again.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
1.0
First Time Playing

Walking is NOT allowed!

This course is everything wrong with golf right now. It’s prohibitively expensive, painfully slow (the starter says 5 hours is the goal, it’s often longer), and walking is not allowed. Let me say that again, because there is conflicting information online - walking Payne’s Valley is NOT allowed. Golf is a walking sport, but no one at Payne’s Valley seems to understand that. The reason walking is not allowed is because of the 1.5 mile cart ride through the rock formation from the 19th hole back to the club house. This is the strangest feature I’ve ever seen on a course. Strange in a bad way. Who finishes a round and thinks “I’d like to drive a windy path for 15 minutes up an artificial rock face with fake waterfalls and ponds”. Also the gimmick of the 19th hole island green is just that, a gimmick. We skipped it, after 5 hours I don’t need to hit to another island green - oh yeah, there’s already an island green par 3 on the course! As to the course itself - it’s huge and “pretty” I guess, but the bunkers look good but the sand is poor quality. The greens I found uninteresting. There are no stand out holes that make you think as a player. I wouldn’t play this course again if it were free.

If you’re at Big Cedar play Ozarks National instead, that course is simply incredible.

Conditions Fair
Value Poor
Layout Poor
Friendliness Poor
Pace Poor
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 07/20/2023

You, sir, are everything that is wrong with golf right now.

Played On
Reviews 4
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Used cart

Enjoyable Round

Out of the three Big Cedar 18 hole courses, this course was our second favorite, (Buffalo Ridge was our first) . Note that It is currently ranked as Golf Digest’s #155 course in the country, which seems a little surprising, but i like playing highly rated golf courses.

The pace of play was the best of the three at 4 1/2 hours. There are a lot of blind tee shots and approaches, which is not ideal at a resort course (forecaddies are available which would have helped, but we didn’t see many groups using them).

The course did have a lot of character and was fun to play. This course, while relatively forgiving, certainly had carry shots making it the most challenging of the three. Not a course for beginners.

This course had the best and fastest greens, which was great. There were some very challenging pin positions. Definitely play this course as part of a golf trip.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Good
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Good
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 4
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Used cart

Love the course

My group of golfers played all three Big Cedar 18 hole courses, and this was our favorite. You do see buffalos and it is on a ridge, hence the name.

The only negative, was the pace of play at 5 1/2 hours, which is incredibly frustrating. As I mentioned in the Payne’s Valley review, the course Marshalls are super nice and give our cold wet mint towels which are need due to the heat and humidity. They just don’t push people along, which should be their primary job.

The course itself is awesome, especially for the price. I like the layout, and scenery, which keeps getting better through the second nine, with number 15 being their signature hole. The bent greens were great.

If I were to play any of the three courses again, this would be my first choice.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Fair
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 4
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Used cart

Slow Round

I really wanted to love this course, given it is a Tiger Woods design and the tribute to Payne Stewart. Out of the three Big Cedar 18 hole course you need to play, I’d rank this as number three.

The first disappointment was the pace of play. When I set up the tee time, I was told to expect 5 hours, but it turned out to be 6, which is ridiculous. The course Marshall’s are the nicest I have met (they give out cold wet mint towels which were awesome with hot and humid temperatures), but they didn’t push anyone.

The second disappointment were the greens. They were the slowest of the three course, primarily because there is so many ridges in them. You basically have to be on the right side of the green each time, or you have a ridiculous putt. Since most people play this course on a one time golf trip without a caddie, you don’t really know where to land the ball on the green (as if you can control it that much anyway).

Positives are that is a wide open and forgiving golf course, and is fun to play. The customer service is awesome, and they are building a new driving range right by the pro-show, although it has not yet opened. The 19th hole (golf hole - not bar) is awesome and the drive back up to the pro shop, while cool, felt a little like going through “It’s a Small World” at Disney. The courses is certainly worth playing once as part of a golf trip, but probably wouldn’t play it again.

Also, $300 is expensive for 6 hours.

Conditions Excellent
Value Average
Layout Good
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Poor
Amenities Good
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 12
Handicap 5-9
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
3.0
First Time Playing
Windy weather
Used cart

Space Mountain of Golf Courses

Anyone who has been to Disney World with their kids knows that Space Mountain is a lame roller coaster made exciting by being covered so that it is in the dark. Ozarks is similar, in that it has a ton of blind shots, a cheap way for a golf course designer to add difficulty. You can have a challenging golf course--such as the Ocean Course at Kiawah--that is also fun and interesting to play, but Ozarks was simply unpleasant. I've played other Coore/Crenshaw courses that great, but this one is simply frustrating. First, there are blind shots all over the golf course, which makes club selection and direction difficult. Second, the course is completely mis-rated. We played the white-blue combo tees, which had a slope rating of 122, when 132 would have been more accurate. I play a 6050 yard set of tees at home that is rated at 127; the white/blue combo at Ozarks was 6300, with the back nine being 3300 for a par 35. The course is always windy and most approach shots are uphill, so this course played very long. There are no stakes of any kind--red, yellow or white, and many fairways have no rough and fall off into wilderness areas, resulting in many lost balls. If you do play this course, agree among your group to treat such shots as lateral hazards, otherwise you will spend much time and frustration looking for balls that, coming off the club, seemed like a good shot. If it is wet and the course is cart path only, seriously consider doing something else--you cannot see anything from the cart path on most holes, meaning you have to lug 4-5 clubs up to your ball, then discover it is a blind shot, hit, lose sight of the ball, go back to your cart and try to guess where it is for the next trudge out. The course is also dangerous--the designers inexplicably placed the tee box on one par three on the back nine immediately to the right and downhill from the green on a par five that has several blind approaches--you could easily be beaned by a shot just a little off line on the slice side. By comparison, the other two courses at Big Cedar Lodge--Buffalo Ridge, a Fazio design, and Payne's Valley, a Tiger Woods design--are delightful to play, with great views and plenty of challenges.

Conditions Good
Value Average
Layout Fair
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Amenities Good
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 146
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Top 100 Contributor
Missouri Advisor
Previously Played

Branson, Mo - Bucket List Golf Destination

Being local, we used to play all the courses in Branson and get tee times the day before playing. Now that Branson has started blowing up on the golf scene thanks to the new TGR design course it's tough to get on so was thankful to get to play it again. The customer service has always been lacking at all the bass pro courses, but they have made a few changes and it was fantastic this time around. It rained about 2 inches right before we teed off so the course was quite soppy but drained ok. Played the course at 6900 yards from the blues. Fun course. Would compare it to Ozarks National in that it's very wide open and you can hit a bad drive and still find yourself in the fairway. A few longer par threes and a couple mammoth par fives along with a couple short risk reward par fours. Course was in great shape. The real bucket list part of the course is after the round ends on the 19th hole and the drive back up to the club house. I personally feel it's the easiest of the three courses followed by Ozarks National and then buffalo ridge. The downfall of Paynes Valley is the green fees (I believe it is $375ish), the pace of play, and one mixed drink on the course is $20!! I still believe that the best course there for a more skilled golfer from both a design & visual appeal standpoint is the original buffalo ridge which is about half the price. If you are traveling to Branson for a golf trip don't forget about some of the other courses down there besides the "big 3". Make sure and play the mountain top par three course. It's my favorite course in Branson from a fun and cost effective standpoint. Ledgestone is a fantastic course that should be added to the mix. Finally, Branson hills (formerly Payne Stewarts course) is a nice course that I Feel is one of the toughest in the state. If you haven't made plans for a golf trip to Branson, do it!!!

Conditions Good
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Average
Amenities Good
Played On
Reviews 5
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Previously Played

Spectacular!

Buffalo Ridge Springs is just phenomenal. This course has it all: a great setting, a memorable layout, nearly perfect conditions, and is extraordinarily beautiful.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Good
Played On
Reviews 168
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Chicago Advisor
Top 50 Contributor
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Used cart

Buffalo Ridge GC - Tom Fazio's Fantastic Feat is Still Branson's Best

The Good: While the newer Big Cedar courses have received a lot of the buzz, Tom Fazio’s Buffalo Ridge (formerly known as Branson Creek) is arguably the most complete golf course at the entire resort. More turbulent terrain compared to Payne’s Valley and more picturesque compared to Ozarks National, it has a playability and fun-factor that is unmatched in the Branson, Missouri area. Unfortunately, I was only able to play 9-holes due to heat stroke, but the holes I played (#1-#7 & #17-#18) were spectacular. Superb Par-5’s, excellent Par-4 variety, and multiple “grab your camera” Par-3’s. Significant elevation changes yet subtle, challenging green complexes that are in perfect shape. One of the most beautiful practice areas and driving ranges you’ll find, as well as a full-stocked clubhouse with a rustic barn feel to it. The staff was incredible in dealing with my nonsense, providing me free Gatorade, and ensuring that I still had a positive experience despite my illness. Easily the best value of the five Big Cedar courses.

The Bad: The clubhouse doesn’t have a full restaurant and bar, which is a bit of a downer compared to the other course’s excellent amenities. The course paired us up with a single (who happened to be a member) during our golf trip. The gentleman was fantastic, but we felt it was a slight infringement for our golf trip group.

The Verdict: Buffalo Ridge, to our group’s surprise, was the consensus best course at Big Cedar and a Top 10 public course that I’ve played of roughly 400 public courses in my lifetime portfolio. I only wish that I was able to play all 18 holes. An absolutely first-rate, classy experience without the “break the bank” price tag.

Best Hole: Of the holes that I played, the finale is a super Par-5 that the same design features of the Par-5 18th at Pebble Beach (obviously with no ocean view). A drive must avoid the rock cropping right of the fairway and then navigate huge bunkers and hazards left of the green. An awesome capper to a great round!

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Good
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 168
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Chicago Advisor
Top 50 Contributor
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Used cart

Ozarks National - Another Firm, Fast & Fun Coore & Crenshaw Masterpiece

The Good: Ozarks National, another wizardly fun design from Coore & Crenshaw, is an excellent addition to the Big Cedar golf portfolio that is quickly becoming one of the best golf resorts in not just the Midwest, but the entire country. While not as flashy as Ozarks National nor as beautiful as Buffalo Ridge, it may be the best design of any course in the area. Wide, expansive fairways jet in strategically with tons of large, rugged sand traps and the green complexes are the most severe of any at the resort. Best compilation of Par-3’s in the greater Branson area, excellent Par-4 variety, and a couple awesome Par-5’s. Superbly conditioned considering it’s just a toddler learning to walk, it also possesses a modest practice area and very nice clubhouse area with full outdoor restaurant and bar. Nice halfway house and GPS on carts is nice touch.

The Bad: A very strategic golf course, yet it lacks the pizzazz of the other Big Cedar regulation courses. Overpriced at $250 during peak season. The staff was nice but weren’t quite as on their game compared to the other Big Cedar courses.

The Verdict: Ozarks National is the third best overall experience at the resort, but it’s the best routing and natural use of the land. A Top 10 Midwest public golf course that I’ve played.

Best Hole: The mid-length Par-3 8th is one of the most understated holes of the entire Big Cedar complex. An extremely large, yet challenging green complex is guarded by deep sand traps short.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Excellent
Amenities Good
Difficulty Moderate
Played On
Reviews 168
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Chicago Advisor
Top 50 Contributor
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Used cart

Payne's Valley - Tiger Wood's Lavish Ode to a Missouri King

The Good: Payne’s Valley, Tiger Woods TGR Design’s newest creation near Branson, MO, is one of the eight Wonders of the World. Created near the highest point of the entire resort and cascading down into the aptly named valley, it has some of the grandest views on a golf course I’ve ever seen. The design is very playable, with wide, fast fairways and huge oval shaped sand traps scattered throughout the 19 (!) hole track. The greens are absolutely huge and very difficult, which is the primary course’s defense. Excellent Par-3 variety, a couple fun “go for broke” short Par-4’s, and picturesque Par-5’s. The staff and overall service is exceptional, which is expected for such a large price tag. The 19th hole island green Par-3 built amongst a sinkhole quarry and the Cliffhanger drive up to the mountain top clubhouse is like a Disney Land ride. In much better shape than I expected for a course in such an infancy.

The Bad: While it’s an expected spectacle given the price tag of $325, it’s still overpriced for an inland golf course. The Par-4’s are mostly straightaway and tend to blend in together throughout the round. Given how new the course is, the driving range specific to Payne’s Valley is not yet completed. In order to warm up, we had to take a 10-minute detour to the Ozarks National practice facility. A 5-hour experience.

The Verdict: Tiger Woods continues to show off his design flair (which significant influence from Beau Welling, formerly of Fazio fame) with a course that is fun, awe-inspiring, and in perfect shape. One of the best golf experiences I’ve ever had, even if severely lightens the wallet.

Best Hole: The Par-5 4th hole has the most severe elevation change from tee-to-green, as well as a beautiful water feature both in-front and left of the huge, thin green. One of the better Par-5’s in all of Branson.

Conditions Excellent
Value Fair
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Average
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Moderate
Played On
Reviews 11
Handicap 10-14
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
3.0
Previously Played
Perfect weather
Used cart

Course Not Designed for Cart Paths Only!

This is the second time I have played this course. The first time was 3 yrs ago when it had just opened. It rained before we played so cart path only was expected. The problem is that this course is absolutely not designed for cart paths only. The fairways are huge so the walks are LONG! And, there are many places where you cannot see over a hill, and it's too far to walk up and back to know what trouble may lie ahead. These courses overdo the cart path only thing. It wasn't that wet, but there were some bad spots. They could have had 5 or 6 holes as CPO, or use the 90 degree rule. Sure they are protecting the course, but what about the golfers who drive many miles to get to Branson and pay premium prices to play these courses. No consideration is given to the quality of the experience. I can't really rate the course because I have never played it yet under "normal" conditions. And, we were receiving messages from the clubhouse constantly advising us how far behind the pace of play we were. Give me a break! Poor golf experience...again! I honestly can't imagine going back, an I certainly couldn't recommend this course to anyone.

Conditions Good
Value Average
Layout Average
Friendliness Good
Pace Fair
Amenities Average
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 15
Handicap 5-9
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
4.0
First Time Playing
Perfect weather
Used cart

Mixed Bag

Course Condition was as good as public gets. Play was slow, but exactly as advertised. Greens are HUGE and fast so time on greens will take more than normal. 2 biggest disappointments were GPS in carts were very inaccurate. Consistently off by 10-20 yards. We completely stopped using them by hole 4-5 and used range finder or phone apps. Just frustrating when you spend 250 and the GPS is wrong. Our GPS watches did not synced to the course either. We did finally find a phone app that had the course registered. In the parking lot, the kid helping us even said oh yea the GPS yardage is wrong. Fix them, turn them off, or at the very least tell us. We just over paid $250 to play and you don't have the professionalism to warn us about the GPS. Ruined our first 4-5 holes. Course was beautiful and the condition was just as beautiful, but I don't think I would ever pay $250 to play it again. It isn't in that category.

Conditions Excellent
Value Fair
Layout Good
Friendliness Poor
Pace Poor
Amenities Good
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
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