So what makes Top of the Rock and Big Cedar Lodge, located in the heart of Missouri's Ozarks, so special? Quite simply, there isn't another golf resort in the country that blends a mix of golf experiences to go along with countless other outdoor activities.
Here are nine reasons Big Cedar Lodge and Top of the Rock make for a golf getaway unlike anywhere else.
1. For owner Johnny Morris, this is personal
Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris grew up here and founded his first Bass Pro Shops locally thanks in part to Table Rock Lake and the White River. He has a very close connection with this area, and remains extremely hands-on, whether it's selecting the golf course architects to build his courses, or hand painting golf course signage himself. Morris founded both Bass Pro Shops to celebrate all the outdoors has to offer, and Big Cedar Lodge to celebrate the Ozarks.
"We have a shared passion about working the land and getting connected," Morris told Matt Ginella on Golf Channel's Morning Drive. "We think this area in many respects is an undiscovered treasure in America."
2. Family fun comes first
Morris and his team at Bass Pro Shops know that the outdoors are the best way to spend time with the whole family. At Big Cedar Lodge, the kids don't have to be golfers to enjoy themselves. With so much to choose from in such an incredible setting, the kids are bound to discover a new passion. It might be golf, or it could be something else.
There are scores of games and activities both day and night, not to mention a five pools to choose from when it's time to slow down. Check out the resort's adventure planner for a sample.
3. A golf course for every horse
When Morris made the decision to add golf to the amenities of Big Cedar Lodge, rather than build one championship 18-hole course after another like most other resorts, he created a ladder of sorts. It starts with the putting course at Top of the Rock, designed by Tom Watson. Arnold Palmer designed the driving range, a marvel in its own right. Jack Nicklaus designed the par-3 course, and Gary Player is currently building a family-friendly course, set to open in 2017.
Then, of course, there is the Tom Fazio-designed Buffalo Ridge Springs, and the upcoming Coore-Crenshaw designed championship course. So even if you're putting or hitting balls on the range, you're getting a world-class experience that all levels of golfers can enjoy together.
4. Missouri's best public course, according to Golf Digest
Morris purchased Branson Creek Golf Club, already one of the top public courses in the Ozarks-Branson golf destination, and set out to make it even better. The result is Buffalo Ridge Springs (complete with roaming buffalo beside the course, in view of the clubhouse), which was completed over the winter with the help of original architect Tom Fazio. Golf Digest calls Buffalo Ridge Springs the top public course in the state.
5. A driving range unlike any other
You'll never look at a driving range the same way once you take one look at Top of the Rock's spectacular setup, complete with greens perched above limestone rock outcroppings, ponds and waterfalls. It's an ultra-stimulating way to warm up for a round or introduce the game in an exciting new way to juniors and beginners.
6. The ultimate par-3 experience
The nine-hole Top of the Rock par-3 course is so exceptional, it was the first ever par-3 course to be used in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event, as the host of the PGA TOUR Champions Legends of Golf tournament. The only event of its kind, the field competes on both the par-3 course and regulation Buffalo Ridge Springs course. The event is one of the highlights of the senior-circuit schedule.
7. A world-class water hazard
Big Cedar sits on the shores of Table Rock Lake, which was dammed in 1959 and is now home to 800 miles of shoreline and one of the world's best bass fishing lakes. Long Creek Marina features boat rentals, fishing guides and plenty of knowledge to help you enjoy your day on the water to the fullest.
8. No square foot is spared
If you've ever been to a Bass Pro Shops, you know that every inch of the experience is sensational. The same is to be said for Top of the Rock and Big Cedar Lodge, both indoors and out. Whether it's accommodations, activities, or dining experiences, the extreme detail here is a real pleasure. At Top of the Rock, visit the carbon-dated Woolly Mammoth and American lion skeletons. Or, have a meal in Arnie's Barn, which is set in a restored antique barn from Arnold Palmer's hometown of Latrobe, Pa. It was reassembled on site by local Amish craftsmen. You can also tour the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail. And no visit is complete without a visit to nearby Dogwood Canyon, a marvelous, 10,000-acre nature park acquired by Morris in the 1990s, in efforts to preserve a slice of the Ozarks.
9. Stay relaxed in comfort
Today, there are a wide variety of accommodation types, from rooms in one of the three lodges to 81 private log cabins and a multitude of lakeside cottages. Rest assured, as rustic as the resort's surroundings are, you'll be in total comfort in whatever accommodation you select, all of which are equipped with modern and comfortable furnishings. For added relaxation, the 18,000-square-foot Cedar Creek Spa opened in late 2014, and features a full menu of massage treatments, as well as an exclusive "Ozarks Rain Experience."
Visit TopoftheRock.com for more details and stay-and-play specials.