Branson Hills - Missouri - USA

Branson Hills Golf Club,
100 North Payne Stewart Drive,
Missouri (MO) 65616,

  • +1 417 337 2963

  • Dan Davis

  • Chuck Smith and Bobby Clampett

  • Austin Fickel

There are a number of tribute courses to be found around this site, either celebrating the greatest holes in golf, or holes created by the greatest architects in golf. Branson Hills Golf Club aims to serve as both a fun test of golf and a Missouri Golf Hall of Fame, celebrating some of the state’s biggest names, including Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, John Daly and others.

Few golfers lived up to the Missouri nickname — “The Show Me State”— more than those last two, and Branson Hills aims to live up to the hype, with stone walls and waterfalls showing off the Ozark region’s natural eye-catching aesthetic. Like all of the golfers mentioned, however, there is also substance to this course, and players had better bring all of their best if they aim to score on this 7,300-yard test. The “Show-Me” moment here will be the trio of long holes running from No. 9 through No. 11, all demanding maneuvering around a creek bed and bunkers ranging from big-to-pot.

Interestingly, neither designer Chuck Smith nor player consultant Bobby Clampett hails from Missouri.

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Reviews for Branson Hills

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Description: With every hole telling its own story about one of golf’s greatest gladiators, the course at Branson Hills (formerly Payne Stewart Golf Club) is a fitting tribute to famous Missouri golfers. Rating: 7 out of 10 Reviews: 2
Ryan Jeffries

Branson Hills is one of the best courses in the state of Missouri. The fairways and rough were not pristine, but still in good shape. The greens, again, were not pristine but still good and rolled true. What makes this course so great is the layout and the challenge, while still being fair. Branson Hills really forces you to think about every shot. I would say this course caters more to the low to mid handicapper than the 15+ capper weekend golfer. I still would recommend it to anyone but I do feel the more experienced golfer would appreciate it more.

Some standout holes...

1 - Great opening hole with a nice sample of the rolling terrain to come. Requires an accurate tee shot and approach (as most holes do on this course)

2 - A long and difficult par 3

3 - What seems like the first real chance to score, a good tee shot will leave you a short wedge in

9 - The 1 hcp hole plays like it, you will be approaching from below the green and it is easy to underestimate the length of the green. 3-putts are in play without an accurate approach (most of the green complexes are large and undulating so knowing where to leave your approach shot is important)

12 - Fun par 3 with water on the left and bunkers to contend with

14 - My favorite hole because it was my only birdie of the day. Pretty straight forward Par 5 until you get on to the two-tiered narrow green with a steep shelf to putt through if you leave it on the wrong side

16 - Really cool par 3 with water on the right, which I dumped my tee shot into

18 - Not my favorite hole on the course but it is a challenge. Completely blind tee shot severely up hill. Approach shot also runs uphill and could be blocked if you are too right on your tee shot. Probably the toughest hole on the course in my opinion.

Overall, this place was great. Had some great views, pace of play was excellent, it forced you to play a number of different shots and really think about where you wanted to land the ball. I will play this course again next time I am in the area without a doubt.

May 16, 2022
7 / 10
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M. James Ward

Much of the recent fanfare tied to golf in the immediate Branson area has centered around the ongoing activities tied to the Big Cedar Lodge and the recent opening of Ozarks National and the forthcoming opening in 2020 of Payne's Valley, the first Tiger Woods design opened to the public.

But, one of the best available options has been making headway since it opened just over a decade ago.

Branson Hills has been at the top of the pecking order for courses open to the public in The Show Me State. The course is situated on wonderful rolling land -- you're introduced to this immediately at the eye-catching 1st hole. Here you plunge downhill with two fairway bunkers in different directions -- one on the left and the other positioned a bit further down the fairway on the right. There is a saddle area in the fairway so balls will tend to move towards a flat are for the approach. The green is well-defended on the left by a water hazard and for those who err too far right you'll be working twice as hard to successfully recover as the green moves noticeably away from that position. Given the significant downhill nature of the hole it would have been far better for the left side fairway bunker to have been positioned much further down the fairway in order to make strong players think twice before proceeding to launch away.

The 2nd is a hard as nails par-3. You commence from a highly elevated tee and the hole does move downhill before rising to a green that's nearly equal in height to the rear teeing area. The key is getting the approach to work away from the frontal greenside bunkers. If you finish to far left the demands to pitch the ball close to the pin is anything but easy. The key with the 2nd is taking sufficient club because having one's ball short of the intended target will likely mean a fast bogey or worse.

Changing gears at the 3rd comes the short driveable par-4. The hole starts from an elevate teeing area and then moves downhill. The fairway area tapers down considerably so the question to ask is just how aggressive should one be. Having a short par-4 in the mix works well following the opening two holes but the imagination for what could have been an elite hole is somewhat missing here.

Following this trio the next three holes plays in a relatively straight line and while I am not usually a fan of this the variation in the holes does work quite well. The par-5 4th is a tough three-shot hole with a water hazard ideally positioned near the green. The long par-4 5th is ably defended by a left side rock wall that narrows the fairway appreciably. The 6th is another mid-length par-4 but the key rests with a superbly crafted putting surface. The green provides for an array of different pin locations with the far left frontal location being quite a test of nerves with the approach shot.

The downside with Branson Hills comes with the next two holes. The 7th is simply a lackluster short par-3. There's no real design details that truly elevate it. The par-5 8th is located on rolling terrain but there's little teeth to bite the longer player from simply launching a tee shot with little real risk.

Fortunately, matters changes with the sterling par-4 9th. Pay close attention to a creek that runs up the entire right side. Ample run exists to the left on this 432-yard par-4 but going too far to that side and you can be blocked by trees that hang near to the green. It would have been a real plus if a fairway bunker were positioned on the left side thereby narrowing the available landing area and causing stronger low handicap types to think twice about pounding a driver up that side. Nonetheless, the approach shot is testing. The creek encountered down the right side moves in front of the elevate green. When the pin is cut to the very front or far left side you have to especially prudent in one's execution. Go too far with the approach and the green will then run away from you. A first rate hole to end the outbound side.

The 10th hole starts the inward half in good fashion but the hole is fairly similar to the preceding hole. The uphill par-5 11th is very, very good. The key is positioning the drive and second shot for a reasonable approach length. Keep in mind, the green is quite deep so any uphill approach must have sufficient club to get to the pin location. My only wish list to strengthen the hole is moving the center-placed fairway bunker from its existing position and having it located at roughly 300 yards from the extreme back teeing area.

The par-3 12th is a good hole -- here water enters the picture guarding the green and the putting surface features two distinct locations on the far right and left side. The downhill par-4 13th at just under 420 yards is a disappointing hole. The severe drop-off does have a rather large fairway bunker at roughly 350 yards off the tee but the design details are fairly simplistic. Given the terrain involved something more creative would have been far more effective.

The 14th and 15th holes that follow have one common flaw -- the paved cart path is a bit too close for comfort given the playing line is quite near to that side. The best part of the par-5 14th comes with the long green -- especially in the far rear area. The 15th is highlighted by a superbly crafted green - the serpentine target features a frontal area that dips in the middle and rises towards the rear. The target is 55 yards in length so it goes without saying that proper club selection is pivotal.

The final three holes provide a fitting ending to the round. The 16th is a quality par-3. Water is in the picture but it's the green design that stands out. When the pin is placed in the far right corner the landing area visually from the rear teeing area shrinks measurably. The par-4 17th is all about positioning. The elevated tee provides a clear visual assessment of what lies ahead. The hole does turn right in the drive zone but the key is actually aiming at the two far side fairway bunkers. From just in front of them the approach. The key is again selecting the proper approach club. The putting surface is elevated and being near to the target can avoid a careless three-putt. As good as the penultimate hole is the 18th is truly a beast.

Few courses will feature an uphill hole in the 18th position and the one encountered at Branson Hills is done well. At the tee you'll observe serious elevation upwards. Pay heed to the solitary fairway bunker to the left -- there's more room to the right but go too far right and

the approach shot will only be blind but can be snared by vexing rough. The key to decide at the tee is how close can you come to the left fairway bunker. The distance to carry is listed at nearly 250 yards but the "effective length" with the elevation makes it play longer. Factor in the prevailing wind which can be in your face and you have a perfect storm to overcome. Those fortunate to find the ideal placement will then have to select the proper club to get to a green that is a bit elevated and pitched from right-to-left. Those walking off the green with par can rightly congratulate themselves on their good fortune and golf skill.

One of the real pluses about Branson Hills is that the round does not return to the clubhouse at 9-holes. The design was smart enough to realize that the overall virtues of the site would work far better in keeping players engaged for the entire 18-holes.

Branson Hills is clearly a layout worthy checking out when in town. Kudos for the turf quality of the greens and when the zoysia fairways are primed the ball sits very nicely although I do question how firm the surface can get. Yes, there are a few things that could be done to enhance the course but minus those small points previously mentioned, the totality of what is there is very good.

Missouri's State motto is "show me" and Branson Hills certainly demonstrates that.

M. James Ward

November 12, 2019
7 / 10
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