Payne’s Valley was the third 18-hole layout to open for play at Big Cedar Lodge when it appeared in the fall of 2020, following on from Tom Fazio’s Buffalo Ridge Springs design and Coore & Crenshaw’s Ozarks National course.
These three layouts are also complemented by a 13-hole short course from Gary Player and a 9-hole par three course designed by Jack Nicklaus so there’s a wonderfully diverse array of golf holes to be found at this enterprising resort.
Payne’s Valley is named in honour of three-time major championship winner Payne Stewart, who grew up in nearby Springfield. Tragically, he lost his life in 1999, when the Learjet he was travelling in crashed on the way to his next tournament.
The course is laid out with 85 acres of zoysia grass fairways and a further 45 acres of non-penal rough, designed by Tiger Woods and his lead architect Beau Welling with playability in mind for the average golfer, offering width and a range of strategic options on every hole.
Green surrounds are intended to allow a variety of recovery shot possibilities, while the fairway rough is maintained to low heights of cut, further promoting an enjoyable playing experience for all golfers.
Notable holes include the par three 5th, playing to a peninsula green; the par three 10th, dropping down to a green that’s protected by water to the left and behind; and the par three 18th, doglegging right around a small escarpment on its way to the home green.
Then there’s the dramatic short 19th, an extra hole which can be used for settling tied matches. It features an island green at the base of massive limestone outcroppings, with water tumbling down over the exposed rock wall into the pond that surrounds the putting surface.