Buffalo Ridge Springs - Missouri - USA

Buffalo Ridge Springs,
Big Cedar Lodge,
1001 Branson Creek Boulevard,
Missouri (MO) 65672,

  • +1 417 339 5430

Located in the picturesque Ozark region of Missouri, the tree-lined layout at Buffalo Ridge Springs (formerly Branson Creek Golf Club) is a Tom Fazio design that’s rated as one of the best public access courses in the United States.

It’s one of a number of courses at the Big Cedar Lodge resort in the Missouri Ozark Mountains, where families and friends have the opportunity to connect with the great outdoors. Founder Johnny Morris lined up several big-name architects – including Tiger Woods (Payne's Valley) and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (Ozarks National) – to deliver top-class golfing layouts ranging from a short 9-hole par three course to full-length 18-hole courses.

Buffalo Ridge Springs is configured as two returning nines, laid out in a figure of eight, where some of the fairways come into close contact with free-ranging buffalo from the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Starting and ending with testing par five holes, this layout can be stretched to just over 7,000 yards from the back tees, with par set at 71.

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Description: Located in the picturesque Ozark region of Missouri, the tree-lined layout at Buffalo Ridge Springs (formerly Branson Creek Golf Club) is a Tom Fazio design that’s rated as one of the best public access courses in the US. Rating: 7 out of 10 Reviews: 3
Ryan Jeffries

Let me start by saying that the day I played, many of the greens were in really poor shape, down to dirt in many areas. I was told at the pro shop that there was a fungus that had been tracked green to green but regardless it is something they expect to have fixed by the Spring, and if they can do that, this is a 5-ball course in my opinion.

Big Cedar Lodge in its entirety is becoming an absolute destination - for golf, hunting, fishing and general relaxation. Any course on this property immediately benefits from the elevation changes that are naturally present, as well as the surrounding vistas that, for me in my young course chasing career, have only been topped by Wolf Creek Golf Club in Mesquite, NV.

I truly didn't find there to be any "plain jane" holes here - every hole had something going on. Even if not every hole was strategically demanding, there was enough to visually please the golfer as well as reminders of where not to hit it so you had to spend some time thinking on most tee boxes. The front 9 meanders through a more tree-lined area as you change elevations frequently, the back 9 then opens up to where you have beautiful views of some of the other courses at Big Cedar as well as the surrounding Ozark Mountains. Most every fairway slopes one way or the other, but, in contrast to Ozarks National which felt like every shot was blind, you can see the majority of these slopes from the tee box and can plan accordingly.

There are so many fun golf holes on this course, couple that with amazing views, fluffy white sand bunkers (and lots of them), Fazio-style eye-catching landscaping features, beautifully conditioned rough and fairways, throw in a few wild Buffalo right nearby, and you have a top-tier public course. As I said, if they can get the greens back, this a 5-ball score for me. Still a must play and in my opinion the number one public course in the state. James Ward wrote a review here where he told people to invest in a compass and road map (review must've been written in 1992) to find better public courses around and I find myself extremely curious as to what he is looking for in a top tier public course. I really want to know, from a desire to further educate myself in golf course architecture, just what it was that this course didn't have that he was looking for. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for that matter golf course ratings are in the eye of the beholder. I can 100% see why someone might say this is one of the best public courses around. Ward calls the architecture vapid and I'm really curious what is plain and/or uninteresting about this course. Obviously James is a highly accomplished writer and has been lucky enough in his life to play far more top-tier courses than the average golfer. So, if I may speak for the average golfer, I didn't find anything vapid, I was pretty well engaged throughout my round. If you're headed to Big Cedar - Ozarks National is the bigger challenge and the more architecturally impressive course, but Buffalo Ridge was a lot more fun in my humble opinion.

September 12, 2022
7 / 10
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Tim Affeldt

An outstanding course, well worth the flight and drive to play. Staying at the Big Cedar Lodge is a must. It would be hard to find a better three-course set up and also add in the par 3 courses are all part of the Big Cedar experience.

October 31, 2021
8 / 10
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M. James Ward

The name Johnny Morris may not resonate globally but his impact in golf in America is on the same page with the likes of Mike Keiser of Bandon fame. The founder of the hugely successful Bass Pro Shops, Morris went full bore in bringing to life his massive resort in the southwest corner of Missouri in the immediate Branson area.

Big Cedar Lodge believes in truth in advertising because Morris makes it a point to be sure that everything at the resort is indeed BIG.

Formerly, Branson Creek Golf Club, Morris engaged the service of architect Tom Fazio and the course reopened in 2014. A number of modifications were included into what constitutes the 18-holes today.

The course amplifies the general Fazio approach. The vistas are certainly present - courtesy of a property that starts from a high point where the clubhouse that gaze upon the countryside for miles and miles. Fazio has provided his usual deft touches -- the "how it looks" mantra is alive and well as the course is in quality shape.

The 1st hole -- a long par-5 -- begins with a major descent downhill. Interestingly, there are buffalo fenced off just to the left of the 1st fairway. Morris wanted to ensure a close connection with the inhabitants.

The long par-4 2nd is a top tier challenge -- both off the tee and with the approach. The par-4 3rd is also done well -- the tee shot must fit the rolling nature of the land here. The par-4 5th is a testament to how the Fazio team can make for an eye-catching hole that's also imbued with a few strategic elements to ponder.

The outward half is the better of the two sides. The inward side is not helped by a singular march of holes in one direction -- #10 thru #13 -- followed by a march in the opposite direction -- #14 and #15. The short uphill par-4 16th is quite good and the ending series of holes is merely perfunctory.

There have been comments that Buffalo Ridge Springs is among America's best public courses. My only answer to that is those spouting such comments need to invest in a compass and roadmap and head out and play more golf in the States. Buffalo Ridge Springs is a quality course and at specific times is engaging, but more often than not, the architecture is vapid.

What will be interesting to see is the plans Morris has put into motion with a forthcoming Ben Crenshaw / Bill Coore layout and the first open to the public design by Tiger Woods -- planned to open in 2019. The Morris vision is certainly one in constant motion and given the nature of where the overall golf industry is today the impact from his efforts are indeed resonating with golfers and general vacation seekers.

by M. James Ward

August 21, 2018
6 / 10
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