From the log cabins set out on the tree-lined shores of Table Rock Lake to the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park’s 10,000 acres, Big Cedar Lodge has been fashioned by its founder Johnny Morris as a destination where visitors can easily connect with the natural beauty of the Ozarks.
Golf is yet another way for guests to explore the region’s wonderful landscape, with fifty-eight diverse holes in play at a 9-hole par three course designed by Jack Nicklaus (Top of the Rock), a 13-hole short course laid out by Gary Player (Mountain Top), and two 18-hole layouts from the architectural teams of Tom Fazio (Buffalo Ridge Springs) and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. There's even an 18-hole Tiger Woods-designed layout (Payne's Valley) which is in the late grow-in stage and is slated to open for public play in spring 2020.
Unveiled in 2019, Ozarks National is set out on a series of ridges that offer sweeping views of the foothills characterizing the region. The resort’s other golfing layouts feature exposed rock formations, partially excavated caves and sinkholes but the landscape on which Ozarks National is laid out is a little more subdued.
“We try to find property that looks and feels like golf in its natural state,” Bill Coore explained. “Properties that don’t require extreme alterations. Then we let the natural characteristics of those sites be the guide to create the character and strategy of those courses.”
Tom Fazio’s Buffalo Ridge Springs 18-hole course and Jack Nicklaus’s Top of the Rock short course are both designed in a conventional manner, dictating more of a target golf approach. Ozarks National, on the other hand, is set up to play firm and fast, allowing players the chance to utilize a ground game strategy if they so wish.
“The thing that’s going to be the most important of all is having the ability to improvise and maybe think a little differently,” said Coore, understanding that many golfers are only used to playing an aerial game of golf. “If you have an adventurous or inquisitive spirit, you’ll go out there and discover ways that you can be successful. To us, that’s interesting and fun.”