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Improvement projects underway at Big Cedar

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Last edited 2:43 p.m., March 17, 2022

A range of improvement projects are underway at Johnny Morris' Big Cedar Lodge.

Jeff Steen, the resort's director of agronomy, on Tuesday spoke about golf course progress during Springfield Business Journal's monthly 12 People You Need to Know interview series. The editorial happy hour event was held at The Backlot, Alamo Drafthouse Springfield's restaurant and bar.

"Each golf course has some type of project on it at the moment," Steen said of the five courses at Johnny Morris' Big Cedar resort in Ridgedale. "We wear a bunch of different hats as a project manager, with construction and Mr. Morris' vision, bringing that all together."

At Top of the Rock, Steen said the course's 18-hole putting course is under construction.

"There's a lot of moving parts at Top of the Rock," he said. "We've got the Cathedral caverns, the big sinkhole ... that we're currently working on. There's some new patios from a food and beverage perspective."

Crews continue to work on what's been dubbed the Cathedral of Nature, which was discovered after the sinkhole opened up at the golf course in 2015. Big Cedar's website indicates more than 1.6 million yards of earth and 108,000 loads of dirt and rock have been removed in an effort to discover a passageway to connect the system.

"Crews will continue to work in search of a new connection, though Morris is pleased with the amazing findings already revealed," the website reads.

Steen said Payne's Valley, a golf course in partnership with Tiger Woods that opened in 2020, is another course with a lot of activity.

"We just opened up a new, what we call a turn station, and it's a really, really fancy hot dog stand," he said. "It's beautiful."

Additionally, the course's bonus 19th hole – set in a geological feature where players walk through a cavern system to return to the clubhouse – has been rebuilt during the past seven months, with the exception of the putting surface, Steen said.

Steen additionally pointed to fine-tuning of the 14th hole at Ozarks National, as well as pond renovations at Buffalo Ridge.

He said Morris is hands-on with the courses, and Big Cedar officials hope to highlight some "exciting stuff coming" in the future.


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