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Missouri offers some scenic landscape for golf courses. Lots of forest, elevation changes, lakes and rivers form a privileged terrain where golf becomes magical, challenging and of course, fun.
With some great public courses, most of them at affordable prices, Missouri stands as one great state to test your abilities while enjoying some spectacular views.
We have made a list of our top ten public courses in the Show Me State. Check them out and let us know your thoughts!
Best Golf Courses in Missouri
Located in the city of Hollister, in the southern side of Missouri, Buffalo Ridge has the privilege of being set on the foothills of Ozarc Mountains. Designed by Tom Fazio, this course opened in 1999, and it is playable yet challenging for any player, and has some great variety of shots, what will make you take out every club of your bag. And as an added particularity, the name gives us a clue of what we may see during our round: sometimes you can see the free buffalos wandering around the fields of the adjacent Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.
The course conditions are close to perfection, with zoysia fairways, sometimes sloped, multiple wide bunkers and smooth, rolling bentgrass greens.
There are some memorable holes here, starting by the 9th, aptly named the “Intimidator”: an uphill par 3 with some rock outcroppings along the whole hole, and a waterfall set near the green. The 14th, for example, is an amazing par 5 with a rocky stream which plays to a green located on top of a rocky cliff. And then we find the closing hole: a gorgeous par 5 with a spectacular vista. (Plugged in Golf, s.f.)
Apart from the course, there is also a nice rustic clubhouse, a full practice facility, and the so-called “halfway house”: a cabin located beside a lake in the middle of the course, perfect to take a break and order some drinks.
The green fees for playing this masterpiece range from $80 to $135. Not cheap, but worth the value! (Top of the Rock Web, s.f.)
Old Kindehook is set among the gorgeous valleys at the Lake of the Ozarcs, and it is seen as one of the most impressive and challenging semi-private courses in Missouri. Designed by Tom Weiskopf in 1999, the main characteristic of the track is that challenge is everywhere: water hazards, waterfalls, trees, elevation changes and hillsides; all of them accompanied by a beautiful lake setting.
This course is not long, so accuracy and patience are more important skills than strength here if you want to score a good round. Our favourite hole here, the 8th: a par 4 with breath-taking views, surrounded by trees and with a carry over a creek and a pond to reach the green. However, the closing hole is also a contender, if we look at the challenge: a dramatic par 5 with water on both sides, a narrow fairway and a green protected not only by water, but also by a series of bunkers. A challenging and fun way to end a round! (Christianson, s.f.)
About the rates here, they vary depending on the season, but usually range between $50 and $80 per round.
And if you want to take a break from golfing, check out the numerous activities you can do here: from boat tours, spa sessions and dining to other sports such as volleyball, ice skating (only in winter) or fishing.
Branson Hills offers one of the best golf destinations in Missouri, perfectly mixing playability, challenge, beauty and accessibility, alongside with some of the characteristics of most golf layouts in Missouri: elevation changes, undulating landscapes and lakes and forests surrounding the course.
Differently from Old Kinderhook, this course is long, with 5 set of tees and some great opportunities for long hitters to take out the drive and hit it hard. The wide fairways also help on this matter.
The course counts with two of the most dramatic finishing holes in Missouri. From both holes, the 17th is the most intimidating: a downhill par 4 with a carry over water on the first two shots, to reach a green protected by bunkers and with more water on its right side.
The clubhouse here has some nice views, overlooking the 18th hole, and count with a nice restaurant called the Magnolia Grille. Apart from this, the proiximity of the course to the town of Branson has made them offer great “Stay&Play” deals, something to look into if thinking about visiting this great course! (Lower, s.f.)
Stone Canyon was designed by Greg Norman and opened for play in 2009. Located in the city of Blue Springs, only 20 minutes from Kansas City, in the east side of Missouri, this layout is in great shape, and its beauty is astonishing, having some great contrast between the natural brown colour of the surroundings with the green grass of the course.
The front and back nines are pretty distinctive one from the other. While the front is mainly flat, with some mounds, sand and water hazards; the back is quite more scenic, with more forests and elevation changes. (MoGolfTour, s.f.)
The club also counts with a really good driving range, a well-stocked pro-shop and a fine restaurant in the clubhouse. All of it for quite an affordable price: green fees ranging from $30 to $60.
The Lodge of four Seasons resort counts with two great courses, The Cove, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. back in 1971; and the Ridge, designed by Ken Kavanaugh shortly after. Apart from these two coursess, directly across the lake of Ozarcs we find the exclusive Porto Cima Club, with the only Jack Nicklaus designed golf course in Missouri, which is playable for the hotel guests.
From the two courses, the Cove is our favourite. With lots of hillsides and elevation changes, this course is quite fun and challenging, and definitely not apt for the faint of heart: the proximity of the forest to the fairways will make you pay for your errors!
72 bunkers and water coming into play in nine holes, alongside with the beauty of the lake around are the other characteristics of this tremendous layout, difficult to forget once played.
Rates here oscillate between $40 and $80 per round, but they vary with the seasons. Make sure of calling beforehand in order to check the current rates!
Following its sister course in the Lodge of Four Season is The Ridge, designed by Ken Kavanaugh. The main difference with The Cove is basically the difficulty: The Ridge counts with wider fairways that make it easier for the player to land their tee shots.
However, the experience here is as enjoyable as the one in the Cove. The beauty of the scenery is also astonishing, with the lake as backdrop; the elevation changes are more moderate but dramatic sometimes; and the numerous bunkers and water hazards make it an absolute delight.
The Ridge also features a big club house, a full pro shop and The Grill restaurant.
Here is one of the bests, if not the best course in Kansas City. Opened in 2001, Shoal Creek was sculpted by architect Steve Wolfard, which created a track challenging but forgiving, due to the expansive landing areas. As many other courses in Missouri, elevation changes are natural and give some fun and variety to the round.
It also counts with a huge 11000 square foot clubhouse which opened in 2003, where there is the possibility of dining, a boardroom, lockers, a pro shop, and a friendly staff. It practice facility is top notch as well, including a driving range with 25 hitting stations, 6 target greens and a 6000 square feet putting green.
Rates at Shoal Creek fluctuate between $40 and $70.
Located also in Kansas City, close to its most famous zoo, Swope Memorial was design back in 1934 by architect A.W. Tillinghast, and was the only course in the region which hosted a PGA Tour event: in 1949 was home of the Kansas City Open.
Set on Swope Park, this location gives the layout some undulation, and multi-tiered greens, as many others in this state. This natural surroundings, together with some Skyline views of the city, give the track a great personality, and definitely an unforgettable experience.
The best thing here: the price. This is the cheapest course seen until now, with green fees which range from $17 to $28 if walking. If you prefer the golf cart, they are also quite affordable, going up to $44.
Finally we reach the capital of Missouri to find what we think is the best public course of St. Louis: Tapawingo. Three set of nines lie here, in order for golfers to mix them as they please and create a great 18-hole round: the Woodlands, the Prairie and the Meramec.
Designed by Gary Player, this course offers lakes, hardwood forests and rivers, making it a total delight for any nature lover kind of golfer. The signature hole of the hole 27 layout is said to be the Woodlands 3rd: a par 3 over a huge lake that will leave you breathless.
In their website it is possible to consult all the courses and its holes, one by one, apart from the other services. (Tapawingo Website, s.f.)
As for rates, they are similar to most courses seen until now, going from $40 to $70.
Continuing with the courses in Kansas City, we find this gem. Tiffany Greens opened in 1999 and was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Great vistas, toughness but fairness and fun are the main characteristics of the layout, which is a bit more expensive than Swope Memorial: its green fees go from $50 to $70 per round.
Apart from the great course, Tiffany Greens has a wide variety of amenities and services, such as a pro shop, golf lessons, accommodations and a great clubhouse with the possibility of organizing events and weddings, and a fine restaurant and pub.
This course, even when public, has a strict dress code policy, so remember… no t-shirts!
Here finishes our list of the ten best public courses in Missouri. As you have seen, there is golf for everybody here: those looking for a real golfing test, those who look for lots of services and amenities, or the ones wanting some affordable rates, all have some great options in this state.
Now it’s time to try them yourself. Have fun!