Big Cedar Lodge: Putting Missouri on the golf map

You can tell a lot about a resort by the person who is leading the charge, and when that person is Johnny Morris you know you are in for something special.

If you don’t know Johnny’s name right off the bat, than you are certainly familiar with the company that he has built from the ground up, Bass Pro Shops. 

Johnny brings an unbridled passion to his business, but these days you are likely to find him overseeing all of the details on his passion project of Big Cedar Lodge.

The second you pull up to the gates at Big Cedar Lodge you know you are in for something special. Johnny Morris has created this resort to give guests the ability to connect with the outdoors in a way that speaks to your passion, and luckily for golfers he has done this in spectacular fashion.

The resort gives guests the undeniable feeling of being one with nature, and the Big Cedar Lodge team has thought of pretty much every activity possible to get you outside and enjoying life.

For our purposes, we are going to focus on what you care about most the golf.

Golf at Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Golf now boasts five golf courses on property: Top of the Rock, Buffalo Ridge Springs, Mountain Top, Ozarks National, and the new Payne’s Valley course. 

Starting with Top of the Rock, it is arguably the best par-3 golf course that you will ever play.  When you show up to Top of the Rock, you look out from the pro shop down to the most spectacular driving range you’ve ever seen featuring waterfalls and huge drop-offs that set the stage for what you are in for on the course. 

As you work your way through this nine-hole gem, you are able to enjoy a variety of holes with completely different looks and feels that make every hole a unique experience.

For example, the 2nd hole is a downhill par-3 with a 100-foot drop featuring an incredible vista of the Ozarks in the background. Fast forward to the 6th hole, and you face an island green surrounded by rock formations and a tree-lined backdrop that makes you feel like you are on a completely different course. The 9th hole brings you back to the clubhouse and features a rock-formed tunnel with the reveal back to the vista of the Ozarks with a waterfall green. Insider tip: Make sure you time your round correctly so that you can enjoy the sunset celebration that takes place on the backside of the clubhouse featuring a bagpiper and cannon shot towards the sunset.

This resort has continued to add exceptional golf into the portfolio starting with the Tom Fazio-designed Buffalo Ridge Springs course, an 18-hole gem that features roaming buffalo that can be seen during the round.  The next addition was the 13-hole Mountain Top course designed by Gary Player.  This course features countless waterfall greens and it makes for a fun walk as a day by itself or as a tack on round after 18 depending on the length of your trip. 

In 2019, the Ozarks National 18 holes were added to the portfolio and all of the sudden Big Cedar Lodge landed itself on the major golf resort list in the United States.  Designed by the famed duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, golfers know they are in for a treat before the round begins as this team has an uncanny knack for weaving a golf course into the terrain with natural feels and a playable challenge from start to finish.

The latest addition to the property is the new Payne’s Valley course designed by Tiger Woods.  This is Tiger’s first public golf course design, and the 19 holes are already receiving rave reviews from the few who have had a chance to see it.  The course’s 19th hole is a par 3 that comes at the base of a 200-foot table rock back wall that is truly one of a kind and is the perfect cherry on top of an unforgettable round.

Before & after your round

The golf is truly world class at Big Cedar Lodge which is the most important piece of any golf trip, but with a multitude of off-course activities and a multitude of lodging options you need to make sure you leave time before or after your round to enjoy all that this property has to offer.  Some of our favorites included:

  • Fun Mountain
  • Top of the Rock Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail
  • Cedar Creek Spa
  • Shooting Academy
  • Outdoor Activities

Our recommendation

This resort truly has it all.  You can host a buddies trip, a family trip, a couples trip, or any trip that you could possibly desire. 

If you can, try to play all of the courses as they are all unique. We love Top of the Rock so much that we suggest playing it twice for an 18-hole loop, or adding it as 9 holes after playing 18 at Buffalo Ridge Springs, Ozarks National, or Payne’s Valley. 

You’ll not only love your experience here, but the second you get home you’ll starting planning when you can get back for a return trip.