Grip & Rip
Story by Tom Loeffler | Feb 24, 2016
Missouri golf provides a quality experience for all ranges of play along with positive economic returns.
What’s your pleasure, sports fans? Whatever strikes your fancy, chances are good Missouri has it — and plenty of it. Including bountiful hunting and fishing hot spots, to two Major League Baseball teams, one National Football League team (until January, of course, we had two), a professional hockey team and a pro soccer team, we seem to have it all.
Golf? You bet, including big-time pro tournaments and an abundance of courses for you and me. There are nearly 400 courses around the state, and more than half of those that are completely open to the public or are considered semi-private. Make a phone call, make a tee time and let it rip.
“We have all kinds of great options for golf in the state with all different kinds of courses and price points in different locations,” says Scott Hovis, executive director of the Missouri Golf Association.
“You have courses for the more expert golfers to courses for more of the beginners. St. Louis and Kansas City, of course, both have a lot of quality courses, you have the Lake (of the Ozarks) area and then Branson, as well … they’re starting to build more higher-end golf courses.”
In other words, Missouri has you covered.
There’s no need to cross state lines to find what you want. “Missouri has so many good golf courses in the state, probably more than any state around us,” Hovis says. “Obviously, you have quite a few in the Chicago area, but they’re not year-round. They’re only open about six months out of the year. Our state’s just a great driving destination for not only people in Missouri but for people in the upper midwest to come and enjoy some great golf.”
If you live in Central Missouri, you can’t swing a stick or a 5-iron without hitting a public golf course. In and around Jefferson City, you have public courses such as Eagle Knoll, which has been honored for being one of the nation’s best values in public golf, Oak Hills, Railwood, Redfield and Tanglewood — and that’s not even counting the options in Columbia, Linn, California and Tipton. Then, of course, less than an hour away, is the plethora of venues at the Lake of the Ozarks.
“Our biggest draws are from St. Louis and Kansas City,” says Steve Walker, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Council. “But we’re finding that people in Central Missouri are rediscovering the Lake, if you will. People are looking at what’s right in their own backyard and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, why didn’t we think of this before?’ And there’s a golf course for every range of golfer from a duffer to a scratch golfer.”
The Lake of the Ozarks has been voted the No. 1 Recreational Lake in the Country, according to a USA Today poll, and Best of the Midwest Magazine named the Lake’s Golf Trail, which features 13 of that area’s 17 courses, the best Golf Trail in the Midwest.
With some dramatic vistas and eye-popping elevation changes, these layouts are both fabulous to look at and fun to play whether you’re under par or over 100.
“The Lake has so many quality courses for players to choose from,” Hovis says. “You can test your skills on different types of course from ones where you can go out and enjoy with the family to ones that the better player can really test their skills on.”
Branson showcases two of the latter, Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock, which serve as the host courses for the Bass Pro Legends of Golf on the Champions Tour (for professionals 50 and older) each April. “With the Legends being nationally televised (on The Golf Channel), it’s boosted the amount of golf travel and the economy so much in Branson,” Hovis says. “That’s just a great selling point. People get to see how unbelievable these golf courses are.”
Speaking of big-time golf events in Missouri, Bellerive Country Club (a private course in St. Louis) played host to the Senior PGA Championship in 2013 and will host the 100th PGA Championship, one of the sport’s four majors, in 2018. Bellerive was also scheduled to host a World Golf Championship event in September of 2001, but it was canceled because of events on Tuesday of that week,. “I think the PGA of America, as well as the USGA, were both incredibly impressed by the way the St. Louis region handled those subsequent events,” Governor Jay Nixon told City Magazine last spring. “Because of that, I think that’s why St. Louis got the 100th PGA, which will be such an historic, important, iconic sports event for America.
Obviously, when you have an event like one of the majors coming back to your state, we’re part of golf lore. That’s part of what we’re seeing all around the state, a continued golf resurgence in the Show-Me State.”
Whether you play golf or not, that resurgence is good news for all Missourians. In a 2010 study (which is the most recent) on the economic impact of golf in the state, the numbers were a bit staggering.
• $485 million: Total wages for the 21,000-plus employees in the industry
• $888 million: Money generated directly from golf
• $1.7 billion: Total economic impact of golf in Missouri
THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY AND A LOT OF TAX DOLLARS. The Legends, alone, brings in millions to the coffers of not only the Branson area but the state. And it’s an event that also has a definite after shock other than the TV exposure.
“Those are 84 ambassadors (the players in the field) that we send out worldwide from Missouri, who will continue to sell our important, expanding brand,” Governor Nixon says. “We’re on the cusp of being one of the golf centers in the United States, if not the world, with both quality and opportunities for all kinds of golf experiences.” In other words, Missouri has you covered.
Featured Missouri Golf Courses
EAGLE KNOLL GOLF CLUB
5757 E EAGLE KNOLL DR.
HARTSBURG, MO 65039
OAK HILLS GOLF CENTER
932 ELLIS BLVD.
JEFFERSON CITY, MO 65101
RAILWOOD GOLF CLUB
12925 COUNTY RD 4037
HOLTS SUMMIT, MO 65043
REDFIELD GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
14005 REDFIELD DR
EUGENE, MO 65032
TANGLEWOOD GOLF COURSE
818 GOLF DR,
FULTON, MO 65251
LAKE OF THE OZARKS GOLF TRAIL
BUFFALO RIDGE SPRINGS GOLF COURSE
1001 BRANSON CREEK BLVD.
HOLLISTER, MO 65672
TOP OF THE ROCK GOLF COURSE
150 TOP OF THE ROCK RD.
RIDGEDALE, MO 65739
BELLERIVE COUNTRY CLUB (PRIVATE COURSE)
12925 LADUE RD.
SAINT LOUIS, MO 63141