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Branson, Mo., is best known as the “live entertainment capital of the world” — kind of like a PG-rated Las Vegas in the Ozarks. And really, it’s hard to argue with a place that has played host to Robert Goulet and the Osmonds. But beyond Branson’s twinkly lights, there’s a lot of world-class golf to be played.
John Daly’s Murder Rock Golf Club
When people hit a great drive here, I bet they love to turn to their foursome and say, “I really murdered that one, heh heh.” All joking aside, this frighteningly named monster of a course combines lush conditions with sweeping views of the Ozarks. And since its opening in 2007, the name has gotten around; Golfweek called Murder Rock one of the best public courses in America. John Daly added his own name to the track through a licensing deal in 2008, but he may not have helped its reputation – he immediately gave a bizarre shirtless interview from the course’s first tee. Since then, though, Murder Rock has received positive buzz from its top-notch conditions and a breezy location on the highest mountain in the county.
Branson Creek Golf Club
Tom Fazio is perhaps the most-decorated golf course designer alive today, and he put his talents to good use at Branson Creek. Named the No. 1 public course in Missouri by Golf Digest, this track is remarkably priced considering its pedigree: $99 during peak season and as low as $48 in the off-season. So even if you don’t have crazy Fazio money, you can still get on this Branson gem.
LedgeStone Country Club
While LedgeStone offers similar Ozark views to other Branson courses, it really kicks it up a notch with the water features. Prominent fountains border several of the holes, and even the practice putting green is placed next to a babbling waterfall. The course itself tops out at nearly 6,900 yards from the tips with a diabolical slope rating of 132. LedgeStone doesn’t get the press that the flashier Branson courses do, but it’s still a solid pick to add to your Missouri golf trip.
Payne Stewart Golf Club
Back when Ian Poulter was still slinging Top Flites in an English pro shop, Payne Stewart was the PGA Tour’s resident dandy. And he had the game to back it up, too. This Missouri native won two U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship before his tragic death in 1999. His namesake course in Branson pays homage to the Hall of Famer with a layout that’s among the best in Missouri. And after your round, you can stop by the “Many Faces of Payne” pub to check out Stewart’s personal memorabilia collection. But the coolest detail of all? Each hole at the course is named after an anecdote from Payne’s life, from hole No. 1, “Trevino’s Tease,” to the finishing hole, “Fatherhood.”
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