Frankly, Missouri is not known for its golf. Whenever you see lists of the best states to golf in, Missouri is typically absent among the usual suspects of California, Hawaii, Nevada and South Carolina. Most states have nicknames that can be traced back to something that state is famous for. Missouri, however, is known as the “Show-Me State,” a non-descript nickname of which the origin is quite unclear. Avid golfers who visit the state I’m sure would like to be shown some outstanding golf courses. While Missouri may not have the reputation that those aforementioned states possess, the fact is that Missouri is home to a bevy of courses that any golfer would be thrilled to play on. Most of these courses happen to be located in the town of Branson, which despite its relatively minuscule size, is unofficially known as the entertainment capital of not only the state, but indeed the entire region.
Thousand Hills Golf Resort
If there’s a premier course in Branson, it would have to be this one. Located just one solid drive away from Branson’s famous entertainment district Highway 76, this lush course is sure to be a dream for any golfer on vacation. It once receive a four star rave from Golf Digest Magazine, and has been voted the best course in the Ozarks by the Springfield News-Leader two years in a row. Once you’ve sunk the putt on the eighteenth, it’s hard not to understand why. It’s a shorter course, registering at only par 64, but the challenges are ever-present. Negotiating the several gorgeous lakes and streams that obstruct the way is trying, and the subtle slopes on the green will surprise anyone even with a stellar short game. But it’s hard to let the difficulty of the course get to you, given the beautiful aesthetics that surround. Try not to be in awe of the beautiful Ozark hardwood forests that line the way of your trek.
Payne Stewart Golf Club
It’s only fitting that one of the best golf courses in the state is dedicated to one of the best golfers the state has ever produced, if not the best (Tom Watson aside). Even if this wasn’t an exemplary golf course, golf aficionados would be keen to come here if only for the all the trivia and amazing stories about the late Stewart that come interwoven with each hole. Thankfully, this an exemplary course, at least according to Golfweek Magazine, which named it the best course in the state as of 2012. The par 72 course is even designed to fit Stewart’s style of play, so those that can mirror that outstanding’s golfer flowing arc and superior footwork should do well here.
Holiday Hills Resort
This par 68 course may be the ritziest in town, but it’s also one of the more accommodating. PGA pro Lance Munden is onsite to help any golfers in their journey to conquer the course. It is a challenging course to take on; it comes equipped with 40 plus bunkers, and there are deadly water hazards on six as well. But it’s a beautiful and recently remodeled course than any avid golfer should take a swing at.
While Branson may be more notorious for its superlative and family friendly entertainment scene, it’s not the only reason the town remains a Midwestern vacation gem. The links will provide as much entertainment for those who don’t need the music, but instead require the peace within that comes with a great putt.
David Bryce is an online publisher for Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson, MO. He blogs on the topics of golf, travel, and vacations.