The Takeaway: While certainly a good course, Ozarks National isn’t Coore & Crenshaw’s best work. The course traverses across the ridge tops delivering views for miles, but the hole designs aren’t as sporty and engaging as I’ve grown accustomed with C&C. Grade B+
Designer: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2019
Cost: $150 - $250 Click for current rates
Phone Number: (417) 339-5460
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Ozarks National Golf Course's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1250 Golf Club Dr, Hollister, Missouri 65672 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: The famous duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were brought to Big Cedar Lodge to design a headliner course that would put Branson on the golf map rather than just the music map. C&C was given a visually dramatic parcel of ground that the duo routed along the ridge tops. The result is a course with views for miles but lacks some of the elevation changes the other full length courses do at the resort. However the setting does offer maximum exposure to the wind which can bring variety to how the holes play day in and day out. The front nine has a 3-3-3 layout with an equal number of par values before a more traditional back nine layout. While the course features several enjoyable holes, it doesn’t quite deliver the exceptional variety, fun, and intrigue that I’ve come to expect at C&C courses. That isn’t as much a knock on Ozarks National as it is a compliment to C&C’s other work that seems to feature a few iconic holes you walk away from anxious to play again. The course feels more natural than Payne’s Valley but the 5th hole is the only one that I felt maximized the natural terrain enough to generate a “wow” moment. The turn house at the 9th hole features complimentary bison dogs, chips, soft drinks, and ice cream to get you energized for the second nine and the vast majority of players will get around the course on carts rather than walking. Ultimately Ozarks National is a very good course and must be played when visiting Big Cedar Lodge, but it won’t go down as one of C&C’s best.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 5th Hole – 352 Yard Par 4 – The short par four 5th is nothing but a pure delight and a fabulous use of the natural terrain. The back tee sits at the low point of the hole while each tee forward plays from higher ground than the previous location. The fairway bends to the right along a ravine and then ascends to a greensite perched up high near the halfway house. A lone tree and bunker on the left side of the fairway act as a nice aiming point from the back tee but if you hit driver at it then you will almost surely fly through the fairway. A tee shot that finishes 20 yards short of the tree is a perfect spot to find and will set up nicely on the approach shot that plays a club longer than the number.
Best Par 3: 8th Hole – 178 Yards – Located at the northern end of the property, the 8th is an attractive par three that plays over a ravine to a green horseshoed by a quartet of bunkers. The right side of the putting surface is the only area devoid of sand to contend with and also features a backstop that balls can be worked off. There is a strip of land short and right of the green that someone could bail out to but hitting it might be more difficult than sticking the green. With the putting surface tilting from right to left, it is best to aim just right of center no matter where the pin is.
Best Par 4: 14th Hole – 450 Yards – The tee shot on the 14th plays over the corner of a ravine to a fairway that tilts right to left. While going up the left side may shorten the hole a bit, the right side offers the superior angle to the infinity edge green with miles of views across the tree covered Ozarks. The ideal play is a draw that works in from the right side and tumbles down the slope to the green while players coming in from the left will have a deep bunker to clear enroute to the putting surface. This is a strong hole is a fantastic setting.
Best Par 5: 11th Hole – 531 Yards – A large pine marks the center of the fairway while a series of bunkers run the right side of the hole. A second pine marks a bend in the fairway as a point of negotiation on the second shot and should be avoided to the right for optimal status. With just 531 yards to cover this is certainly a hole you can reach in two, but you'll need to keep the pines away from your ball and likely come up the more dangerous left side to earn your reward.
Birdie Time: 3rd Hole – 345 Yard Par 4 – Coore and Crenshaw are famous for half pars and this one is one the favorable side of par. A wide fairway greets players and as long as you steer clear of the bunker on the left you should be in great shape to go flag hunting on your approach. The green is raised but with a scoring club in your hand you should be able hit your second shot with confidence and get it close to the pin. The front nine is about 300 yards shorter than the back so take advantage of your opportunities while you can.
Bogey Beware: 13th Hole – 480 Yard Par 4 – The half par 13th is the first of tough back-to-back par fours that will test the merits of your game. The tee shot plays over a ravine and over a pair of bunkers that start the fairway. Doglegging to the left, players can attack the inside of the bend but they are greeted by a fairway that tilts to the left and can kick balls towards the ravine that frames that side of the hole. So the safe play is out to the right which lengthens the hole and is compounded by the uphill approach that plays a club longer to the raised green. The right side of the green is flanked by a bunker and veering too far left will send your ball down a ravine, so there is nothing but high quality shots that can be played here to avoid carding a bogey.