A destination created by Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist Johnny Morris, the 4,600-acre lakeside retreat connects families to the outdoors with a variety of nature-based experiences that include fi shing, boating, hiking, spa and wellness offerings. Big Cedar Lodge’s fastest growing attraction, however, is its array of world-class golf experiences, catering to golf professionals and beginners alike. Yes, there is something for every member of the family here.



Already a top-travel destination, Big Cedar Lodge has made a name for itself in the golf world with the 2014 re-opening of Top of the Rock, a Jack Nicklaus Signature design, and the renovation of Buffalo Ridge Springs, redesigned by Tom Fazio and Johnny Morris and recently ranked as GOLF Magazine’s “Best Golf Course You Can Play in Missouri.” Big Cedar Lodge is advancing Morris’ vision for a world-class outdoor resort that combines a shared appreciation for nature preservation and a premier golf experience.

Clearly, a visit to Big Cedar Lodge calls for some advance planning among guests because there are so many things to do. The golf is obviously a big draw, but other moments can be spent swimming or boating, painting or enjoying nature photography. Little ones not yet ready for the resort’s three magnificent courses can hone their putting skills at the spectacular miniature golf facility on the premises. Still want more? You can choose everything from board games and bonfi res, to kayaks and canoes. There’s even Fun Mountain, a new 50,000-square foot adventure complex, featuring laser tag, bumper cars, an underwater-themed bowling alley, golf simulator and full-service restaurant.


At some point, however, you’re going to want to pull out the sticks and enjoy one of America’s quintessential golf adventures. Buffalo Ridge Springs, acclaimed as the region’s top course, has added intriguing new approaches, water features and well-placed bunkers in its redesign. This latest version brings players in close contact with nature, native grasses and even free-ranging buffalo from nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. The Par-71 course, which plays at 7,036 yards from the tips, holds a lofty Golf Digest rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Big Cedar Lodge’s newest and most family friendly offering is the Gary Player-designed Mountain Top Course. A world-class 13-hole short course, it delivers an unparalleled experience for golfers. Winding through breathtaking rock formations and showcasing some of the most dramatic views in the Ozarks, the just opened Mountain Top Course captures the emotions of professionals and amateurs alike. Golfers traverse through dramatic 300 million-year-old limestone cave-like formations. Even professionals have their hands full as three holes can stretch beyond 200 yards, but Mountain Top features multiple tee boxes on each hole to accommodate players and children of all ages and skill levels.

APRIL26-image3-300 Winding along breathtaking promontories, this Par-3 walking-only course unfolds along elevated ridges that look down on lush valleys in all directions. The course begins gracefully with a gentle slope and then gives way to craggy outcroppings and upward approaches. Majestic views provide a backdrop for countless shot variations and course setups that will bring players back time and time again. Moving between the third green and the fourth tee, Morris has powerfully connected players to nature as they cross a winding bridge that allows them to walk over centuries-old rock formations. Perhaps the most dramatic sense of arrival in golf occurs after players leave the 9th green and journey through cave formations, where Morris has carved a nature trail on a swinging bridge, to arrive at the stunning mountain-top tee complex on hole 10.

But Big Cedar Lodge is all about choices, and golfers have yet another in the famous Par-3 Top of the Rock Course. Perched high above Table Rock Lake and surrounded by gentle waterfalls, wandering creeks, bass-filled ponds and shimmering lakes, the thoughtful layout is a true celebration of Ozarks beauty. This Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is just part of the overall experience, which also includes an Arnold Palmer-designed practice facility and Arnie’s Barn, a fabled 150-year-old barn relocated from Palmer’s backyard in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The barn houses numerous historic photos and other memorabilia from Arnie’s landmark career.

These enjoyable and scenic courses will be joined by the 2018 opening of Ozarks National, a new 18-hole championship course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. In the meantime, skilled onsite golf professionals facilitate development of each and every player, no matter which golfing test they have in mind. This one-on-one instruction is available for players of all ages and skill levels, including juniors at every stage of development.

The excellent instruction, coupled with the wide range of mixed skill level golf courses and teeing locations, makes a round at Big Cedar Lodge extremely kid-friendly!


Overnight accommodations at Big Cedar Lodge are as varied and memorable as the golfing experience. In all, the resort features 260 well-appointed selections, including lodge rooms and suites, cozy cottages and private log cabin retreats constructed of rough-hewn logs. Offering the ultimate in personal space and seclusion, some of the cabins are nestled into the local timber, while others populate the lakeside or find a cozy spot near the resort’s other fine amenities. Ideal for family stays, the cabins feature well-equipped kitchens and decks, as well as barbecue grills for outdoor cooking. All of the various room types are outfitted with plush, cabin-style décor and include a high degree of privacy. Whichever style of lodging you choose, don’t be surprised if your receive a friendly visit from the resort’s Cookie Lady.


Big Cedar Lodge caters to family-size appetites with a wide variety of dining establishments, offering southern homestyle fare, burgers and fountain treats, Mexican food, gourmet dining and popular breakfast favorites. Special meal events and unique family gatherings take on added significance at the Worman House, built in 1920 as a private country retreat. Totally restored right on the property, it offers an abundance of history and charm.

As an added convenience, the resort can prepare lunch baskets with meats you can cook right on your grill. Two-hour dinner cruises on Table Rock Lake are even available to those who enjoy dining while watching a magnificent sunset. It’s all here for you and your family at Big Cedar Lodge, a bass angler’s one-time dream that has now become a remarkable reality. For more information about Big Cedar Lodge, its course developments and a variety of outdoor resort activities, visit www.bigcedar.com.

Dan Shepherd is a longtime golf industry executive and former editor of Golf Inc. magazine.