The Jack Nicklaus Signature course at Porto Cima at the Lake of the Ozarks is the centrepiece of a private residential development and the 18-hole layout has consistently been ranked in Missouri’s Top 10 list of courses ever since it was opened for play at the start of the new millennium.
The Club at Porto Cima - which translates approximately as “Hillside by the Harbour” - is modeled on the small Italian Riviera resort of Portofino and this Mediterranean theme is one of the many unique aspects that set the place apart as one of the finest golf and boat facilities in the Midwest of America.
The course weaves its way through a dense oak forest and fairways rise and fall over an undulating landscape, particularly on the front nine. The round opens with a couple of strong par fours before the first of the four short holes is encountered. Played slightly downhill to a two-tiered green, with water falls in front of and behind the putting surface, this is one of the prettiest holes in all of Missouri.
The back nine are routed in such a way that the lake comes into play several times on the run in to the clubhouse, none more so than at the 546-yard, par five, 15th. The fairway plays gently downhill towards the water but the green complex then kinks to the right as it juts out into the lake, protected by three bunkers in front and one large bunker behind the putting surface – cameras at the ready once you have played your approach to this little sweetie!
At the time of writing this is the only private Nicklaus signature course in the state of Missouri.
Worth the trip if you get an invite, gorgeous views of the lake on the back nine. All in all the course feels artificial to me though. There are some holes where it feels that Nicklaus simply got carried away and could have done better with the land provided. Was in very nice shape both times I played it (not perfect) but above average even for a course of this caliber. Probably a bit overrated although the only other course I'd rather play in the Lake Ozark area is Old Kinderhook.