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Best Golf Holes in the Ozarks 2018

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It’s golf season again, and Springfield Business Journal is back with the top holes handpicked by those who best know the courses.

We asked PGA golf pros and club managers at area courses to pick the one hole that increases player scores more than any other – you know, the dreaded double bogey – or that is most scenic and talked about. Some holes are the same as last year and some are different.

If you haven’t tried these holes, now is the time. Then let the pros know how you did. After all, they picked them.




Mountain Top Course

Hollister

Bass Pro Shops founder and conservationist Johnny Morris teamed up with World Golf Hall of Fame legend Gary Player to create this new 13-hole short course.

No. 9
Par 3
140 yards
Handicap: N/A
Designer/course architect: Gary Player
Rates: $90 (April-October)

Why it’s a Favorite
The green is enclosed by ancient limestone rock formations.

Tips
After the final putt drops on the ninth, players marvel at what’s next: A nature trail through ancient rock formations leads players from the green to one of the most stunning tee complexes on Mountain Top (Hole 10) with a dramatic view of the Ozarks.



Horton Smith Golf Course

A slight dogleg right and a long uphill fairway.

No. 4
Par 4
445 yards
Handicap: 1
Designer/course architect: Don Sechrest
Rates: $8-$39

Why it’s a Favorite
It’s the most challenging hole on the course.

Tips
Play the left side of the fairway for the best-approach shot. And take one extra club for proper distance into this two-tiered green guarded by a sand trap on the right.



1000 Hills Golf Resort

Branson

The hole slopes downhill all the way to the green. Playing from the blue tees will likely end in a downhill lie second shot to an elevated green. From the tee, it looks like there is a narrow corridor to the right for ball placement, but it is best to be left. The green sits atop a 25-foot cliff with a creek below and another 15-foot cliff behind. The green is also protected by bunkers to the right and left and the green slopes forward.

No. 9 
Par 4
460 yards
Handicap: 1
Designer/course architect: Bob Cupp and Mike Riley
Rates: $32 (for residents within 60 miles)

Why it’s a Favorite
People either love it or hate it. No. 9 is actually one of the most picturesque holes on the course, but then you have to play it. Most golfers walk away saying, “I made it today,” “It’s the first time I’ve gotten across the creek,” or “There’s always next time.” It’s all about the challenge with this hole. Par is always a great score.

Tips
Challenges are ever present. From the tee aim to the power lines left of the green, it will look like you are too far left, but that is the best angle to come in from. Get far enough down the fairway so the second shot is around 120 yards and relatively flat. If you are too far out, lay up in the approach; playing trick shots off the cliffs doesn’t often end well. Try to stay below the hole, because one bad stroke can easily cost you several.



Twin Oaks Country Club


Among four tough closing holes, the final hole is a demanding par 4 that puts a premium on the tee shot. You head due south into a prevailing wind and must find the fairway to properly place the approach shot on an extremely difficult green to two-putt. The green is well-guarded with deep bunkers on three sides, making it nearly impossible to get up and down – or even to keep it on the green. Three and four putts are not uncommon for even the best players.

No. 18
Par 4
420 yards
Handicap: Fifth handicap hole on the scorecard
Designer/course architect: Floyd Farley
Rates: N/A; private course

Why it’s a Favorite
It is a great atmosphere with the clubhouse in backdrop and the American flag waving behind the green. It is a demanding and fair hole that allows for great topography for a gallery to finish watching a round of golf.

Tips
Find the fairway with your drive, accurately place your approach and carefully two-putt the green.



LedgeStone Country Club

Branson West

Dubbed The Quarry, the short hole has a 100-foot vertical drop from the back tees to the green. The putting surface is cut back into a rock bluff with a pond guarding the front of the green.

No. 15
Par 3
116-200 yards
Handicap: 15
Designer/course architect: Tom Clark
Rates: $69-$109

Why it’s a Favorite
With a stunning view, people are always talking about this hole whether it’s a good or bad score.

Tips
Try to pick the correct club with the elevation drop and our constantly changing wind directions. Short and left is the only chance for bailing out and not costing yourself a penalty stroke.



Top of the Rock

Ridgedale

This final tee shot is downhill to a very sloped green with severe bunkering surrounding it. The green sits to the right of the main Buffalo Bar terrace at the Osage Restaurant, which is a great gathering spot for spectators and resort guests.

No. 9
Par 3
163 yards
Handicap: N/A
Designer/course architect: Jack Nicklaus
Rates: $135 (April-October)

Why it’s a Favorite
This hole showcases one of the most popular and photographed views of Big Cedar Lodge. A grand stone entrance and walkway unveils a majestic view of the ninth green and Table Rock Lake.

Tips
It’s best viewed at sunset.



Karen Kjar Memorial Golf Course

Buffalo

This driveable par 4 from an elevated tee is filled with risk and reward and sets the tone for your round. Will you be aggressive and try for a fast start or lay up with a couple smooth iron shots to ease into your round? Either option requires a precise shot into a shallow green that, when executed, will leave you a makeable putt.

No. 1
Par 4
230-280 yards
Handicap: 17
Designer/course architect: Owen Kjar
Rates: $22-$30

Why it’s a Favorite
The opening hole challenges all skill levels with options and opportunities.

Tips
Lay up to 90-100 yards. Anything closer to the green brings the pond and out of bounds right into play. The driver demands a 250-yard carry from the blue tees to clear the pond with OB right looming all the way. Big hitters be wary of anything over the green which could end up in the creek. Your bail out is left, that may leave you a Phil Mickelson flop over the trees or a low trundling chip from a good angle to a narrow green.



Island Green Golf Club

Republic

The 15th hole not only bears the course’s namesake, but it also is considered the signature hole. The final par 3 of the round represents a challenging tee shot on to the island, with one of the largest greens on the course. There are many different pin placements to regularly change the complexion.

No. 15
Par 3
196 yards
Handicap: 8
Designer/course architect: Jerry Slack
Rates: $29-$34

Why it’s a Favorite
Challenging your faith in club selection, this hole forces you to consider a drop in elevation, a formidable south wind and a water hazard surrounding the entire green.

Tips
Distance control is imperative. Carefully choose the right club and let it rip. Finish the round here at sunset.



Buffalo Ridge Springs

Hollister

Exposed ancient table rock formations encircle the green to the right with large, expansive bunkers protecting the left side.

No. 14
Par 5
615 yards
Handicap: 2
Designer/course architect: Tom Fazio
Rates: $135 (April-October)

Why it’s a Favorite
Players love this hole because of its picturesque view from the tee box and the approach shot.

Tips
This is a demanding par 5 from the tee shot, layup and approach shot. There’s a large and beautiful flowing creek that runs the entire length of the hole down the right side and crosses in front of the green. Hitting this green in three is a challenge and a must in order to make par.



Hickory Hills Country Club


It’s a dogleg left with bunkers on both sides of the fairway and surrounding the green.

No. 4
Par 4
470 yards
Handicap: 1
Designer/course architect: John T. Woodruff
Rates: $81 (only with a member)

Why it’s a Favorite
It’s a beautifully scenic hole from the teeing ground, and it has a high level of difficulty.

Tips
With a drive down the center, you will have a longer to medium-length shot into the green.



Bill & Payne Stewart Golf Course


Hole 12 is one of the best and most challenging holes. It’s a tough 441-yard, par 4.

No. 12
Par 4
441 yards
Handicap: 1
Designer/course architect: Perry Maxwell
Rates: $34-$39

Why it’s a Favorite
With out of bounds on the left and trees on the right, it makes for a tough tee shot. You are then left with a long uphill approach shot to a small, right-to-left sloping green, guarded by a bunker on the left and cart path on the right.

Tips
It requires two precise shots and great short-game navigation on a tough green. If you find yourself above the hole around the green, you are most likely bringing bogey and double bogey into play. Par on this hole is always well deserved.


Springfield Golf & Country Club

A challenging par 5, it’s usually played straight into the prevailing south wind. It has scenic woodlands out of bounds left and a pond lining the entire right side. It takes a strategically placed tee shot to keep away from any penalty shots. Big hitters sometimes are able to reach the green in two; only to find themselves with a two-tiered green.

No. 11
Par 5
550 yards
Handicap: 14
Designer/course architect: Lyndy Lindsey
Rates: N/A (membership only)

Why it’s a Favorite
There is a lot of strategy involved, and it is one of the course’s most scenic holes. It takes great concentration to keep the ball in play.

Tips
Many regular course players layup 20-50 yards short of the green to put themselves in the best position with an approach shot.



Honey Creek Golf Club

Aurora

It’s a long par 3, usually into the prevailing southwest wind. The elevated green slopes from back to front. While a pond guards the green in the front, Honey Creek snakes around the green on the side.

No. 17
Par 3
193 yards
Handicap: 14
Designer/course architect: Bill and Scott Welch
Rates: $33-$38

Why it’s a Favorite
Being the next-to-the-last hole, it’ll make or break the round. Get up and down for par and save several strokes on the overall score.

Tips
It’s better to be a little short than long. Not too short – remember the pond is in front – but if behind the green with the elevation, it might create a blind chip shot. It’s a big green, so cup placement really determines club choice off the tee. It could change club selection by one or two clubs.



Rivercut Golf Course


One of the most talked about holes in the region, it’s a very lengthy par 5 that plays into the prevailing summer wind. Only the longest of hitters can challenge the green in two strokes, but the smart play is to hit three shots into the green to set up for birdie with a short iron. The main difficulty is that water comes into play on every shot to the green – and the entire right side is out of bounds.

No. 10
Par 5
Length: 611 (from back tees)
Handicap: 2
Designer/course architect: Ken Dye
Rates: $45-$55, $39-$45 senior/junior

Why it’s a Favorite
Very few par 5s in the area play to this length, and players have multiple choices on how they choose to play it. Many challenges await on every single shot – even the green is challenging. It is one of the largest greens on the course, with lots of slope and a ridge in the middle.

Tips
Play driver or 3-wood off the tee, but the best play is to always lay up short of the water crossing. There is no real advantage to trying to go over the water, if you can’t reach the green in two. If you are laying up, keep the second shot to the right side. Most will have a short to middle iron into the green for their third shot, but don’t over-club, as anything long rarely stays short of the pond; the bank slopes quickly downhill behind the green.



Deer Lake Golf Club


Long and hilly, the dogleg right offers a challenge.

No. 5
Par 4
418 yards
Handicap: 1
Designer/course architect: William W. Amick
Rates: $25.50-$37

Why it’s a Favorite
This challenge is over water and has elevated greens with a front bunker.

Tips
The front right tree makes it a fade shot to hit the green. Key is to play to the 150-yard marker.

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