Joe Logan 
Branson, Mo.
Thursday, January 18, 2024
By Joe Logan

BRANSON, Mo. – Despite growing up in the South, I have never been much of a country music fan. Well, except for maybe Willie Nelson and a couple of others.  But most of the rock’n roll-y modern stuff?  Nah, not for me.


So I was a little surprised when I got a call a few weeks ago from golf industry public relations executive I’ve known for years inviting me on a golf trip to Branson, perhaps second only to Nashville as a mecca of country music.  Branson, he informed me, has made itself into something of a golf destination and the tourist bureau, Explore Branson, is trying to get the word out.  Hence, the call.


My initial thought was, “Uh, thanks, but no thanks.”  


But then the PR exec sent photos of the courses we’d play.  Much-ballyhooed Payne’s Valley, designed by Tiger Woods, was No. 1 on the list.  There was also a highly-touted Tom Fazio course called Buffalo Ridge, and a Coore & Crenshaw plum called Ozarks National.  Then there was a Jack Nicklaus nine-holer, and a 13-hole walking-only course designed by Gary Player.  


Best of all, in my mind, they are all mountain courses.  I love mountain golf.  I lived in the mountains of Virginia for a couple of years and mountain golf is as distinctive and addictive as seaside golf or desert golf or classic parkland golf, like the courses so plentiful and pleasurable here on the East Coast.  How had I overlooked the fact that Branson is in the heart of the Ozarks?


Suddenly, I was all in.  The Branson folks had only one expectation of me: If I came, I would write about the experience.  I had only one expectation as well: If I came, I would write what I actually thought, with no promise of sugar-coated PR puffery.




What Branson has to show off are 10 resort and daily fee courses within 20 minutes of each other, with an 11th course currently under construction.  Five of those 10 courses fall under the umbrella of Big Cedar Lodge, the vast, upscale resort and wilderness conservation sanctuary that is the baby of the area’s favorite local billionaire, Johnny Morris, founder and owner of Bass Pro Shops and, since 2017, Cabela’s, previously its competitor in the outdoor sporting goods industry.  Morris, who is still very much alive, vigorous and in charge at the age of 75, is a noted conservationist who has seen to it that each of his courses earned certifications from Audubon International.


There were five of us on the trip (six counting the PR exec) -- all writers and publishers from regional print and digital golf magazines and websites.  Besides me, members of the group hailed from Florida, Wisconsin, New England and Michigan.  Our handicaps ranged from a low of 3 (not me) to a high of 26 (not me). Nice guys and golf geeks, all, ranging in age from 49 (not me) to 72 (me).



Getting to Branson


Unless you’re arriving by private jet, Branson’s small airport (BKG) won’t do you much good.  Only Sun Country Airlines has a handful of commercial flights into Branson, mostly from around the Midwest. All others must fly commercial into Springfield-Branson National   (SFG), 50 minutes away in the state capital of Springfield, Mo.   Even that is a small airport, however, with only 10 gates, smaller even than Lehigh Valley National or Myrtle Beach. And good luck finding a non-stop flight into Springfield.  In my case, I flew through Charlotte going to Branson and Chicago (O’Hare) going home.  


The long day of traveling improved when we arrived at Big Cedar Lodge and checked into rustic but luxurious one- and two-bedroom cabins.  Nice digs – and all to myself. Sunset was fast approaching but there was still light enough to sit in a rocking chair on the balcony and gaze out over the hills and fairways of Payne’s Valley in the distance below.


For dinner, we headed up to the main Clubhouse and Mountain Top Grill, where we ate many meals over the nex t three days.  For me, the choice for dinner was easy – I love patty melts so any time they’re on the menu, I usually order it, even when it’s $26, like this one.  I didn’t regret my choice.





First morning, first round, we got right down to business, teeing it up at Payne’s Valley, the course I had most looked forward to playing.  


When it opened in 2020, not long after Tiger Woods quite unexpectedly won his fifth Masters, Payne’s Valley was promoted as an homage to the late U.S. Open winner Payne Stewart, a native son of Springfield. Although it wasn’t the first course Tiger designed, it was his first resort or daily fee course open to the public.  


As the crown jewel of the five Big Cedar courses, Payne’s Valley is a sight to behold.  The scale of it, the way it dominates and flows across the hillsides and valleys around the hilltop Lodge.  No surprise, a round at Payne’s Valley is not cheap.  In peak season, from mid-April to the end of October, green fees are $350 for Lodge guests and $450 for non-guests.  Even at those rates, Payne’s Valley is booked solid most of the year. (Rates.)


If I had any trepidation about Payne’s Valley, it was whether the world’s greatest golfer could design a golf course intended for us recreational hacks.  Could Tiger even remember what it’s like not to be able to carry an approach shot 180 yards over a greenside bunker?


It turns out Tiger was plenty prepared. My biggest take away from the round was that Tiger had conceived holes that certainly appeared intimidating and problematic but in most cases were quite user-friendly and manageable.  There were bunkers aplenty, for sure, but it felt like Tiger had strategically placed them so as to be more of a visually menacing than they actually were.  Plus, Tiger gave most every green an open front for running the ball up.


Despite heavy play, Payne’s Valley was one of the most immaculate, well-conditioned courses I have ever played.  Even on the tees on par 3s, it was hard to find divots, and I don’t think I saw a single fairway divot the whole day.  (Days later, back home, I watched YouTube videos from the early days of Payne’s Valley and the course wasn’t nearly so well-conditioned back then.)


(YouTube: No Laying Up at Payne’s Valley)

(YouTube: Tiger’s first resort course)


19th Hole


When Tiger got finished, there was enough leftover land for Johnny Morris to envision what described as an “insane” par 3 bonus 19th hole.   Measuring from 88 to 134 yards, it begins from an elevated tee and plays down to a generous island green.   It’s an unforgettable hole to play, but the difficulty of the actual shot takes a back seat to the surrounding rock formations.


After you putt out and climb into your cart, what comes next is an unbelievable drive through rocks and tunnels, across small waterfalls, around hairpin turns, back up to the mountaintop clubhouse.  Even though it doesn’t count, the 19th is the most memorable hole.


(YouTube: Payne’s Valley 19th hole)


Niicklaus’ 9-hole, par 3 course


From Payne’s Valley we shuttled to nearby Top of the Rock, where Arnie’s Barn, a 150-year-old structure from Arnold Palmer’s property in Latrobe, Pa., has been transported, reassembled and expanded into a massive clubhouse-restaurant overlooking Table Rock Lake.  It is also the site of the Jack Nicklaus-designed 9-hole course, Top of the Rock.  If there was an unexpected highlight to the day – indeed, to the trip – it was this course.


Although it’s all par 3s, Top of the Rock is neither short nor a pushover.  The holes range from 142 to 202 yards.  The elevation changes make Top of the Rock impossible to walk but they also make for some breathtaking views and testy tee shots.


(YouTube: Top of the Rock)


I’ve played a few top-notch 9-hole, par 3 courses, most notably Pine Valley’s 10-hole par 3 short course, designed by Tom Fazio and ranked by Golfweek as the No. 1 par 3 course in America.  Golfweek ranks Top of the Rock as No. 8. It is the only par 3 course to be included as a venue on the PGA Champions Tour.  If you ask me, Top of the Rock should be ranked higher.



Dinner at Osage


Dinner that night was at one of Big Cedar Lodge’s premier restaurants, Osage, at Top of the Rock, which is, as the name suggests, at the top of a rock (mountain?), with spectacular views of Table Rock Lake. Each evening at sunset, resort guests and diners are treated to a solemn enactment of a military cannon-firing, complete with a loud ka-boom and billows of smoke.


The view from the mountaintop restaurant is nothing short of dazzling, with its commanding view of the lake, the hills and the golf courses below.  You’d have a hard time finding a better spot to watch a sunset.


Osage Restaurant, like Payne’s Valley, is not cheap.  Of course, if you didn’t gulp at the room rates, or the green fees, you probably won’t blanch at the prices on the menu.  Osage earned its reputation as a steak house so I naturally ordered the 8-ounce filet, medium rare. It cost $68.  The filet was good -- not $68 good.  A Caesar salad was $16.  Soup, at $17, felt overly indulgent, so I passed.  Wine was $14 a glass. (Osage dinner menu)



Tuesday Buffalo Ridge


In the same way that Steven Spielberg directs big-budget blockbuster movies, Tom Fazio designs big-budget, blockbuster golf courses, among them Buffalo Ridge at Big Cedar. Fazio’s courses take possession of a piece of land -- in this case, more hills and hillsides, jagged rock formations, ponds, creeks, streams, waterfalls and dramatic shifts in elevation.


It opens with a downhill par 5 with a fairway as wide as an eight-lane highway. What follows is a magnificent piece of land and Fazio spares no expense in carving his imprint into the landscape, with his signature sweeping, sloping fairways, dungeon-like fairway bunkers and greens that can make you look like a fool.


(YouTube: Buffalo Ridge)


True, there are people who hate those kind of courses, which they argue are just too much, too over the top.  Those people tend to like more subdued, walkable courses, and they regard Fazio as the worst offender when it comes to excesses.  Personally, I like Tom Fazio courses, including this one. So do plenty of other golfers, based on the rankings of Fazio’s many courses in magazine Top 100 lists.  Fazio courses have a familiar sort of Fazio feel. Buffalo Ridge is no exception.


Fazio was also impressed by the piece of land he was given to work with.  Right there on the Buffalo Ridge website, there’s a quote from Fazio:  “This property at Buffalo Ridge is even grander than what anyone can imagine.   I’m shocked…Every time I come here is am amazed.”


That night for dinner at the Mountain Top Grill, I opted for lighter fare – crab cakes and a Caesar salad.  Let’s just say I’ve had better crab cakes but it was still a good call.  




The third of our Big Cedar courses was Ozarks National, a Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design that was named Best New Public Course in the country by Golf Digest in 2019 and Best You Can Play in Missouri by Golfweek in 2020.  LINKS magazine includes it as one Coore & Crenshaw’s 10 best public courses.


Coore & Crenshaw are among the most revered and in-demand architects working today (along with Fazio, Tom Doak and Gil Hanse).  Closer to home, Coore & Crenshaw designed Hidden Creek GC at the Jersey Shore; elsewhere, they are responsible for a slew of top-rated courses, including  Cabot Cliffs, Sand Hills, Streamsong Red and three at Bandon Dunes)


Given those successes, if you had told me going in that I would rank their course third among the three Big Cedar courses we played, I might have been skeptical.  Don’t get me wrong, Ozarks National is absolutely top-drawer. Set among imposing limestone formations, boulders and enormous sinkholes, the course skips across mountain ridges, providing yet more stunning views and vistas. Really, there is not a bad view on the course.


(YouTube: Ozarks National)


After three comfy nights in the Payne’s Valley Golf Cottage at Big Cedar Lodge, we checked out Wednesday morning before we headed for Ozarks National.  Next stop, after golf, the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. Located between historic downtown Branson and modern, waterfront Branson Landing, it’s an alternative lodging option for those not staying at Big Cedar.  


As nice as the Big Cedar Lodge cabin was, the room at the Hilton was hardly a step down.  My top-floor room with a picture window view turned out to include a living room, kitchenette, bedroom, and two bathrooms, one with a hot tub and walk-in shower.  I don’t believe I have ever had a hotel room with two bathrooms.


That night, we ate at the Hilton’s restaurant, a steak house called Level 2.  Again, at the recommendation of the chef, I went for the filet mignon.  This 9-ounce filet was in a different league from the one two nights ago. Melted in my mouth.  It was, no exaggeration, one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. (Level 2 dinner menu)




On our final day of golf, we set out for nearby Branson Hills Golf Club. After three days playing the resort courses at Big Cedar, Branson Hills felt more like a first-class but ordinary daily fee golf course.  There’s nothing ordinary about it.


(Course video)


Designed by Chuck Smith and former PGA Tour player/CBS broadcaster Bobby Clampett, Branson Hills opened in 2009 as Payne Stewart Golf Club, as a homage to the native son.  Back then, before they started building courses at Big Cedar, Payne Stewart GC/Branson Hills was ranked as the No. 1 Course in Missouri by Golfweek for seven straight years.  While it’s not cheap (in-season peak rates are $160), it’s certainly cheaper than the Big Cedar courses.


Like every course we played, the personality of Branson Hills’ is a function of the topography, which is, after all, the Ozarks Mountains.  The Ozarks, with a peak elevation of about 2,500 feet, are much smaller mountains than the Rockies (14,400 ft.) or even the Blue Ridge Mountains (6,600 ft.). The Ozarks are more on the scale of the Poconos (2,500 ft.).




Until this golf trip, I knew almost nothing about this part of the country.  I’d passed through once or twice but I had no sense of the place.  I’d watched every episode of Ozarks, the popular Netflix series, but, truth be told, that show is filmed outside of Atlanta.


On this five-day trip, I got a better look. I liked the place and the people.  Branson is as Middle America as it gets.  Although Branson is only minutes from the Arkansas state line, it didn’t feel like the Deep South, where I lived for the first 25 years of my life.  And much to my surprise, I got through the trip without having to actively avoid country music.


The golf was great.  I wouldn’t call Branson a full-blown golf destination on the order of, say, Pinehurst, Myrtle Beach or Bandon Dunes.  But Branson has a six-pack of wonderful courses and another four or five that won’t disappoint.  Big Cedar Lodge and Top of the Rock were, well, top of the rock.

Send to a friend
166 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:24:46 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:24:45 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:24:43 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:24:42 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:24:40 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:24:39 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:24:19 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:23:54 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:23:32 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:23:16 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:23:00 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:22:40 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:20:18 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:20:06 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:50 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:17 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:15 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:14 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:13 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:10 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:09 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:08 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:07 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:19:06 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:18:45 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:18:29 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:18:08 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:18:08 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:18:07 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:18:07 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:17:50 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:17:33 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:17:15 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:16:57 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:16:39 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:16:14 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:16:01 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:15:47 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:15:12 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:15:00 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:14:48 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:14:33 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:14:20 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:14:00 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:13:28 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:13:03 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:44 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:26 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:06 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:05 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:05 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:05 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:04 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:12:03 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:11:45 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:11:28 PM]
ubaTaeCJ[5/9/2024 11:04:08 PM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 10:22:56 AM]
@@NrV60[4/27/2024 9:10:27 AM]
lxbfYeaa%2527%2522\\"[4/27/2024 9:10:26 AM]
lxbfYeaa"[4/27/2024 9:10:26 AM]
if(now()=sysdate(),sleep(15),0)[4/27/2024 9:08:52 AM]
-1" OR 2+784-784-1=0+0+0+1 -- [4/27/2024 9:08:44 AM]
-1 OR 2+136-136-1=0+0+0+1 -- [4/27/2024 9:08:42 AM]
-1 OR 2+508-508-1=0+0+0+1[4/27/2024 9:08:42 AM]
-1 OR 2+126-126-1=0+0+0+1 -- [4/27/2024 9:08:41 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:08:41 AM]
lxbfYeaahcxpKKw5[4/27/2024 9:08:35 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:08:28 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:08:21 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:05:44 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:05:27 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:05:17 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:03:15 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:55 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:47 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:39 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:30 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:22 AM]
555mDojKEqd)) OR 758=(SELECT 758 FROM PG_SLEEP(15))--
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:15 AM]
555Ny6BqBvX) OR 837=(SELECT 837 FROM PG_SLEEP(15))--
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:02:06 AM]
555WRa6FXdn OR 292=(SELECT 292 FROM PG_SLEEP(15))--
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:01:59 AM]
555-1)) OR 460=(SELECT 460 FROM PG_SLEEP(15))--
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:01:51 AM]
555-1) OR 397=(SELECT 397 FROM PG_SLEEP(15))--
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 9:01:44 AM]
555-1 OR 60=(SELECT 60 FROM PG_SLEEP(15))--
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:23 AM]
-1" OR 2+124-124-1=0+0+0+1 --
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:23 AM]
-1 OR 2+384-384-1=0+0+0+1 or eBohCGBH=
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:22 AM]
-1 OR 2+903-903-1=0+0+0+1 --
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:22 AM]
-1 OR 2+357-357-1=0+0+0+1
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:22 AM]
-1 OR 2+233-233-1=0+0+0+1 --
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:21 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:13 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:59:04 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:58:56 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:58:48 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:58:48 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:58:47 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:58:16 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:58:08 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:58:01 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:57:54 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:57:45 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:57:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:59 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:51 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:34 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:27 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:19 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:12 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:03 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:03 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:56:03 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:56 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:48 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:40 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:32 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:25 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:17 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:09 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:55:01 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:53 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:29 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:20 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:12 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:12 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:11 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:11 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:10 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:10 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:54:02 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:55 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:46 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:37 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:31 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:22 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:14 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:07 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:53:01 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:53 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:45 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:38 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:30 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:23 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:17 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:06 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:52:00 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:52 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:44 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:36 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:29 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:21 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:13 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:13 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:12 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:12 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:12 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:11 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:51:04 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:50:56 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:50:50 AM]
lxbfYeaa[4/27/2024 8:47:35 AM]

A bow to Tiger Woods
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
By Joe Logan

Two days after Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters, I still sit here dumbfounded, in awe.


Like so many golfers and sports fans, I never thought I would see this day.  Of course, neither did Tiger, so I don’t feel so bad.


It is almost impossible to describe to non-golfers how remarkable this comeback is, or what it means to the game of golf and to Tiger.  Last night, reading one of the business industry websites, they were predicting that Tiger’s victory at Augusta would lift all golf boats, including the stock prices of Acushnet, Callaway and Nike.  I don’t know about that but I am positive that is lifting all spirits.


Tiger had fallen so far and disappointed so many.  We all felt like nave fools for believing he was somebody he was not.  The shame for him must have been unbearable.  And just when it the tsunami of bad publicity seemed to be over, two writers named Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict came out with a book, Tiger Woods, that dug up details that showed it was even worse than we had heard or read.


And that’s just the indignity part of the equation, not the four back surgeries, the multiple knee operations and the laundry list of other ailments.  The man couldn’t get out of bed.  At one point, one swing sent him tumbling to the ground in a heap in his own backyard, where he lay for hours until somebody found him. Back then, Tiger told anybody who would listen that he was through.  His glorious career, his chase for Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles was over.


Then there were several aborted attempts at a comebacks – attempts that ended early and badly, often with Tiger’s abysmal performance threatening to damage his legacy.  Remember that time he couldn’t chip without chili-dipping or shanking the ball over the green?


So, how do you quantify what he has done now?  And how do you account the people around the world who once loathed and mocked him now rooting for him, cheering Ti-ger, Ti-ger, Ti-ger at the Masters?


It’s because people are forgiving.  People love redemption.  People love building up a superstar, then knocking them down, and, if they can’t hang around long enough, building them up again.


None of this would be possible, obviously, if not for Tiger’s singular talent, determination and self-confidence.   This time around, it all seems to be seasoned with a dose of humility and maturity.


Let’s hope Tiger’s comeback doesn’t end here.  Let’s hope he has several good years left in him.  Let’s hope that the Tiger of today wants badly enough to be the Tiger of old again.  I, for one, am rooting for him.  I wouldn’t bet against him.



Send to a friend
166 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

A few takeaways from the BMW Championship
Monday, September 10, 2018
By Joe Logan

A few takeaways from the BMW Championship at Aronimink:


- First and foremost, the fact that Philadelphia does not have an annual, first-class stop on the PGA Tour is a crime against golf.  Seriously, a crime.


As expected the crowds at Aronimink were big and enthusiastic, in the way that knowledgeable golf fans are.  I love walking the course, people-watching.  You see the upscale crowd donning shirts and hats and pullovers bearing high-end logos -- Pine Valley, Merion, Cricket and Philadelphia Country Club, etc., not to mention out-of-town clubs like Chicago Golf Club, Shinnecock, Pebble Beach and all manner of tournaments, like the Masters and the U.S. Open.  And then you see no-logo folks in cut-offs, tee shirts and flip-flops.


The whole scene at the BMW Championship was a reminder that Philadelphia is one of the premier golf cities in the country, a fact we demonstrate every time big-time golf comes our way.  We saw it at the AT&T at Aronimink in ’10 and ’11, we saw it at the U.S. Open at Merion in ’13, and we saw it again these past few days at the BMW at Aronimink.


The biggest crowds were following Tiger Woods, of course.  And why not?  Fans here are Tiger-starved and have been for most of his whole illustrious career.  How many times have Philadelphia fans gotten to watch Tiger in the flesh?  The ’10 AT&T at Aronimink, the ’13 Open at Merion and now this.


If the PGA Tour were to try to stick us with some off-week stop with a weak field, this town would shrug with in difference.  We saw that at the SEI Pennsylvania Class almost 20 years ago.  But a full field event in June or July with a rich purse and the biggest names in the game – hmmm, maybe the Comcast Championship? – and Philadelphia would got nuts.


It wouldn’t have to be at Aronimink or Merion; in fact, neither club wants a regular event.  But there are at least a half dozen courses in the area capable and worthy of hosting an annual PGA Tour event.  Lest we forget, Philadelphia is one of the biggest markets in the country without a regular stop.


So, come on business leaders.  Come on PGA Tour.  Make it happen.


- Aronimink got screwed.  You’ve got to feel for the club.  It did everything it could possibly do to stage a successful event.  What happens? A gully washer descends upon Philadelphia and much of the Northeast.  Could the timing be any worse?  No.  That is freakish bad luck.


- Tiger Woods. I don’t know about you but I am forced to bow with respect.  A year ago, all indications were that he was done, career kaput.  This comeback, with a fused back no less, is a bonus for Tiger and a blessing for golf.  The man who carried the game on his back for almost two decades is doing it again.  For how long, who knows.  One bad swing and he could drop to his knees in agony.  But for now, hey, who isn’t pulling for him?


-  The scores.  The 62s and 63s at Aronimink were other-worldly.  Aronimink is no easy golf course, even if they made it look like it.  It tough and it is 7,200-plus yards, even at par 70.


True, all the rain made for soft conditions but it was more than that.  PGA Tour players today are just that much better than even top amateurs and club pros.  Also credit, or blame, the modern golf ball. Until the dial back the golf ball, which they will not do, no golf course can contain today’s players.



Send to a friend
166 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Tiger Woods after shooting 62 at Aronimink 
Eat my words
Thursday, September 6, 2018
By Joe Logan

For once, I don't mind eating my words.  Like now, after what Tiger Woods did at Aronimink in the first round of the BMW Championship.


It was one of those 8-under par 62s that makes you shake you head in disbelief, good enough for a share of the lead with Rory McIlroy. 


A 62 would have been impressive during Tiger's heyday but now, with a fused back and a career that everybody, including him, thought was shipwrecked, that is well beyond impressive.


Going into this season, I was among the many people who firmly believed that Tiger had no chance – zero, zip, nil – of resurrecting his career.  I said that to anybody who asked me.  He had fallen too far and his back was too damaged and fragile and heck, he is on the wrong side of 40.  Even Tiger told people that he was finished, no chance of coming back.


But back he is.  He didn't win this year but he could win this week and he can certainly win next year.  Even the possibility of him winning a 15th major is no longer unthinkable.  (See PGA Championship, 2nd place, with rounds of 66, 66, 64).


So I will be back at Aronimink tomorrow. Tiger Woods is still the show. 









Send to a friend
166 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Professor Joe Bausch 
Bausch Collection adds 119 courses, updates, for total of 476
Friday, June 1, 2018
By Joe Logan

The last time I checked in with Joe Bausch, the good professor was marinating in the joy of Villanova basketball -- because his beloved Wildcats were on a run that would culminate with its second national college title in three years.


Bausch’s non-hoops time was devoted to chemistry, of course, which he seems to understand and enjoy, and golf – specifically playing and photographing as many new golf courses as is humanly possible.


Since last July, Professor Bausch has added 119 more courses to his golf course photo gallery, the Bausch Collection, for a total of 469.


Of that total, new courses: 52

Updated albums: 18

Destination courses: 49


The breakdown of new courses, scattered across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and New York is as follows:


1.  Rookery South

2.  Rookery North

3.  Sunningdale

4.  Metropolis

5.  Crossgates

6.  Forsgate Palmer

7.  Hopewell Valley

8.  Mystic Rock

9.  Shepherd's Rock

10.  Fox Chapel

11.  Vince's Par 3

12.  Engineers

13.  Newberry

14.  Irem

15.  Green Spring Valley

16.  Southampton

17.  Quogue Field Club

18.  Maidstone

19.  South Fork

20.  Jericho National

21.  Wyoming Valley

22.  Glen Maura

23.  Fiddler's Elbow - Forest

24.  Fiddler's Elbow - River

25.  Cranbury

26.  Forest Hill

27.  Carroll Park

28.  Willow Brook

29.  Harbor Pines

30.  Hanover

31.  Squires

32.  Eastlyn

33.  Springfield Golf Center

34.  Pines at Clermont

35.  Highlands of Donegal

36.  Laguna Oaks

37.  Heritage Links

38.  Village Greens

39.  Atlantis

40.  Mercer Oaks West

41.  Hooper's Landing

42.  Briarwood East

43.  Royce Brook East

44.  Royce Brook West

45.  Island Hills

46.  Tallgrass

47.  Greystone

48.  Bethpage Red

49.  Bethpage Green

50.  Skytop

51.  Bidermann

52.  Country Club of the Poconos


Destination courses:


1.  Pinehurst No. 2

2.  Streamsong Red

3.  Streamsong Blue

4.  Pikewood National

5.  Steelwood

6.  Yale

7.  Sylvania

8.  Inverness

9.  University of Michigan

10.  Country Club of Florida

11.  John's Island West

12.  Dunes Club

13.  Maketewah

14.  Pine Tree

15.  Whistling Straits - Irish

16.  Yeamans Hall Club

17.  Ocean Course

18.  Barefoot Fazio

19.  Barefoot Love

20.  Barefoot Dye

21.  Barefoot Norman

22.  Thistle

23.  Prestwick

24.  Palm Beach Par 3

25.  Breakers Ocean

26.  Cavalier

27.  Princess Anne

28.  PGA National:  The Fazio

29.  French Lick Ross

30.  Mountain Lake

31.  Pinehurst No. 4

32.  Pinehurst No. 8

33.  Pensacola

34.  Cotton Creek

35.  Gulf Shores

36.  Rock Creek CC

37.  Pete Dye Golf Club

38.  Abbey Course at St. Leo

39.  World Woods Pine Barrens

40.  World Woods Rolling Oaks

41.  Lake Jovita South

42.  Cleveland Heights

43.  Lake Jovita North

44.  Streamsong Black

45.  Boston Golf Club

46.  Belterra

47.  Cambridge

48.  Royal New Kent

49.  Old Hickory


Updated photo albums:


1.  Applebrook

2.  Huntingdon Valley

3.  Jack Frost

4.  Timber Trails

5.  Concord

6.  Mainland

7.  Architects Club

8.  Mainland

9.  Country Club of Scranton

10.  Lancaster

11.  Woodcrest

12.  Spring Ford

13.  Lehigh

14.  Tumblebrook

15.  Waynesborough

16.  Philadelphia Cricket Wissahickon

17.  Broad Run

18.  Hickory Valley Presidential


After this latest addition of courses, I asked Joe to do me and his readers a favor.  From these new courses, pick his five favorites and write a sentence or two explaining why they stand out in his mind.


Here is what we wrote:


Pines at Clermont:  You're down at the Jersey Shore and a number of courses await you.  Wait, you've never heard of Pines at Clermont, have you?!  It is a fun, very cheap, 9-hole course that really serves it purpose.


Bidermann:  This private club, located in Winterthur, Delaware, has a serene atmosphere and excellent Dick Wilson-designed layout.  I'm fortunate to know a member and gosh I'm glad I do!   Joe Logan’s story on Bidermann


French Lick:  Donald Ross course:  In the hometown of Larry Bird (The hick from French Lick!) is a fabulous example of the genius of the golden age architect Donald Ross.  This resort course nicely demonstrates how Ross could come up with a fun, challenging layout on a small piece of land.


World Woods:  This destination site in Central Florida contains two Tom Fazio layouts and is a perfect place to play two in a day!  The Rolling Oaks course is an Augusta National inspired layout, while the Pine Barrens has some looks and feel of Pine Valley.  


Streamsong Black:  The latest course part of the Streamsong Resort in Central Florida is designed by local architects Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner.  It has a look and feel unlike any course I've played.  If you enjoy being able to utilize a ground game and watching your ball roll and twist and turn, this place is for you.

Send to a friend
166 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Joe Logan 
On the matter of Donald Trump
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
By Joe Logan

From time to time, I get an email from a reader unhappy that I have posted yet another story about Donald Trump.


I got one just this morning. I’m guessing it was because I posted a story yesterday on the fact that Stormy Daniels, the porn star Trump is accused of having paid off, is bringing her strip-show act to a gentlemen’s club across the street from Trump’s International GC, just up the street from Mar-a-Lago.


I won’t identify the reader but here is his email:






Might want to lay off the anti Trump crap on your site. Stick to golf.




In my email reply, I told him what I would tell anyone with a similar complaint:



Thanks for your advice, which I am sure is well-intentioned and heartfelt.  Thing is, Trump is so much a part of golf, it is hard to ignore him.  Even before he was president, he was one of the major golf course owners in the country; since he has become president, he has become the face of golf, as much so as Tiger Woods.  That is a fact, not crap.


This is not a political website, to be sure.  Generally, I avoid politics.  That has become more difficult since Trump was elected, because of his involvement in golf.


I’ve got readers who hate Trump and I’ve got readers who love Trump.  My rule of thumb is, post Trump-related stories only if they are somehow connected to golf.  Anything else Trump-related or political, I steer clear.


My other rule of thumb is, if I find a story interesting, or compelling, or disturbing, I believe many of my readers will also.  I post stories all the time that I disagree with or that I find distasteful, or mule-headed.  To me, it’s part of the job.


Thanks for taking the time to write.  I hope you’ll visit as often as possible.





I do post plenty of Trump stories.  I don’t apologize for that.   Like it or not, the man dominates every news cycle and his every move is scrutinized, even on the golf course.  But like I said, I don’t stray from the golf-related stuff.


I also don’t deliberately dwell on the negative Trump stories.  I have all kinds of Google alerts set up to funnel stories to me, among them "Trump golf," which makes no distinction whether stories are positive or negative.   I posted a positive story today, a CNN International report crediting him with having a "pretty good" golf swing and a golf game that stacks up well against his presidential predecessors.


As I said in that email, I post stories all the time that I take no pleasure in passing along, often golf business or golf industry stories that report that rounds are down, or that yet another course is closing, or that golf’s business model is out of whack, or that millennials find the game stuffy and too time-consuming.


I operate on the presumption that the people who come to are knowledgeable, sophisticated news consumers.  I try to give you anything that I think you might want to see, or ought to see, or at least have the opportunity to see.  And I try to err on the side of letting you evaluate the information for yourself.


Until I become convinced that is the wrong way to operate, I’ll continue doing it.






Send to a friend
166 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Bausch Collection adds "Destination Courses," hits 370 courses
Friday, July 7, 2017
By Joe Logan

Now, where was I?


In the months since my last blog post I have been busy, but not nearly as busy as Joe Bausch, curator/photographer of the Bausch Collection,’s invaluable repository of golf course photo galleries.


Since I last updated his progress a year ago, Bausch, a Villanova chemistry professor, has played more golf than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson combined and likely visited more golf courses than a fertilizer rep.  With Villanova out for the summer, Bausch is up and out of his house every morning, off on another golfing quest – always with his trusty camera.


The results of Bausch’s passion (some might say obsession) are readily visible on – the Bausch Collection is now up to 370 galleries and growing by the day.


In addition to the 29 new galleries, Bausch is most pleased about the expansion of the Bausch Collection from a regional resource to include a new category we’re calling "Destination Courses."


The first destination course Bausch posted was Erin Hills, host of last month’s U.S. Open.  In recent days, he has added 10 more Destination Courses.


Here is a breakdown of the courses Bausch has added or updated:


Destination Courses

1.  Dormie Club

2.  Erin Hills

3.  Cabot Links

4.  Highland Links

5.  Cabot Cliffs

6.  Whistling Straits - Straits

7.  Tidewater

8.  Blackwolf Run - River

9.  Blackwolf Run - Meadow Valleys

10.  PGA National - Champion

11.  Kiva Dunes



New Galleries

1.  Rossmore

2.  Sawmill

3.  Foxchase

4.  Cedarbrook

5.  Wedgewood

6.  Hershey's Mill

7.  CC of Harrisburg

8.  Wanango

9.  Foxburg

10.  Indiana

11.  Deal

12.  Hollywood

13.  Glen Brook

14.  Pomona

15.  Hamilton Trails

16.  Latona

17.  Wilmington CC - North

18.  Hayfields

19.  Bent Creek

20.  Rolling Road

21.  Twin Oaks

22.  Lehman

23.  Pinelands

24.  Washington Twp

25.  Tanglewood Manor

26.  Wolf Hollow

27.  Fox Hill

28.  Sparrows Point - Inside Nine

29.  Sparrows Point


Updated Galleries

1.  Lancaster CC - Highlands

2.  Blackwood

3.  Turtle Creek

4.  LuLu

5.  French Creek

6.  Bala

7.  McCall

8.  Ridgewood

9.  Overbrook

10.  Atlantic City CC

11.  Llanerch

12.  Deerfield

13.  Cobb's Creek

14.  Springfield

15.  Linfield National

16.  Twisted Dune

17.  Scotland Run

18.  Phoenixville

19.  Greate Bay

20.  PineCrest

21.  Linwood

22.  Honeybrook

23.  Reading

24.  Pitman

25.  Seaview Pines

26.  St. Davids

27.  Riverwinds

28.  Applecross

29.  Locust Valley

30.  Valley CC

31.  Pickering Valley

32.  Bella Vista

Send to a friend
166 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment
  About MyPhillyGolf
  Blog Archives
Special Features
  Advertise with Us
  Course Finder
Links to Other Golf Sites
  PGA Tour
  Philadelphia PGA
   © 2024 All Rights Reserved
   Privacy Policy | Terms of UseDeveloped by AppNet Solutions