The Takeaway: A punishing front nine paired with more enjoyable back nine, Porto Cima is highlighted by the closing stretch on Lake of the Ozarks. The setting on the water makes it feel like a resort, but the stout challenge says otherwise. Grade B-
Designer: Jack Nicklaus in 2000
Phone Number: 573-207-8700
Course Website: Official Website - Visit The Club at Porto Cima's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 133 Club House Dr, Sunrise Beach, Missouri 65079 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Located in central Missouri near the top of the Ozark hills, Porto Cima is the tale of two nines. The front nine is tight and carved through dense oak trees with significant elevation changes throughout the routing. Finding a birdie is tough and if your driver is struggling then you are going to have a long day. The back nine continues through the trees and residential development with corridor golf being the call of the day, but that all changes on holes 15-18 which is the money stretch along the Lake of the Ozarks. The par 5-3-4-4 the course finishes with is dramatic and photogenic with water coming into play on each hole. The conditioning suffers from poor drainage with the holes that run through the valleys and other low spots in the routing while the heavy amount of trees cast a significant amount of shade. All in all, Porto Cima feels more like a boat club that has a course than a club that is focused on having the best course possible.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 17th Hole – 393 Yard Par 4 – The second of back-to-back holes featuring Lake of the Ozarks consuming the entire left side of the hole, the 17th doubles down with the trouble by featuring a fairway that tilts hard from right to left. Of course Jack isn't going to let you just bail out to the right without some level of risk, so a fairway bunker lies in wait and must be navigated around. The approach shot plays to a green completely fronted by water and sand with a level of safety being available in the back where a rough covered backstop exists. The lower left tier of the green that hugs the water and is surrounded by trees is a bear of a location to hit an approach shot close to, but if you do, I like your chances of taking a stroke on the field.
Best Par 3: 16th Hole – 181 Yards – The scenic 16th features water up the entire left side and jets in front of the green to create a forced carry to the green. A front to back tier runs through the middle of the green effectively creating a high tier on the right and low tier on the left. The lower tier is the more dangerous section to attack with more water to carry as well as a bunker fronting the putting surface. 15-18 is an impressive set of holes, and by the time you get to 16 you start seeing why.
Best Par 4: 9th Hole – 413 Yards – Porto Cima has a few uphill approach shots that are both appealing to the eye and requiring a strong iron game to conquer. One such hole is the finisher on the front nine which plays downhill to a fairway that doglegs left between a pair of bunkers. The approach shot is from a slightly downhill lie to a raised green over a deep swell, the most difficult combination in golf, and features a bunker fronting the right half of the green while a steep false front is found on the left. A shot that carries deep can use the backstop to stay near the green, but shots that come up short don't have a lot of enjoyable results. If you can manage pars on 9 and 18, you deserve a soda of your choice at the 19th hole.
Best Par 5: 15th Hole – 546 Yards – The 15th plays straight downhill towards Lake of the Ozarks and features a fairway with one bunker on the left side and four on the right side of the driving zone. The hole descends a total of 90 feet from tee to green which will create an opportunity for players to get home in two more often than normal. To hit that green will require a ball that moves from left to right and stays out of the trio of bunkers blocking the right side of the green. With the putting surface sitting out in a peninsula, there isn't a lot of forgiveness getting home, but the risk can be worth the reward.
Birdie Time: 10th Hole – 319 Yard Par 4 – The back nine starts with a short par four and an opportunity to kick things off right in case the front nine didn't go as well as hoped. The hole plays straight away with a late sharp turn to the right at the end with just the left edge of the green viewable from the tee. If you can bomb a drive over the trio of bunkers 30 yards shy of the green you will be in prime shape to take advantage of this hole and birdie will nearly be a given. If laying up, you'll need to stay left of the bunker trio and short of it in order to have a good look at the green with your second shot. In either scenario, you'll be able to be aggressive and go pinseeking on your approach.
Bogey Beware: 18th Hole – 461 Yard Par 4 – Jack expects your best all the way to the end, and this challenging finisher emphasizes that point. The tee shot plays over the water and requires nearly 200 yards of carry to reach the closest part of the fairway, but a trio of bunkers await further in the distance on that line which may encourage some players to drive up the right side and take their chances with the creek along that edge of the fairway. The creek continues up the fairway and hugs the right side of the green while the left side features a steep bank that can kick balls back towards the green. Placing a safe tee shot is plenty challenging, but once you advance to the putting surface you can find some diabolical pin placements that maximize the effect of the sloping in the green. Carding a par here is an impressive feat.