I have a hard time understanding why more golfers in the Midwest don't know about Branson Creek Golf Club. The course, located just south of Branson in Hollister, MO, is a gem--one of the best, if not the best, public course in the state.
The challenging track, designed by Tom Fazio, starts with a long, scenic, downhill par five, measuring 578 yards from the tips. This tough first hole is tempting as it's wider than most holes on the course and offers a chance to get on in two with a well-struck drive. From there you progress to a par four, one handicap hole and the round truly gets serious.
Each hole on this 7,100 yard course is named and is linked to the region and terrain. On our visit yesterday, we saw wild turkeys frolicking on one of the greens and marveled at the rock outcroppings, meandering streams and lengthy vistas. The views are breathtaking.
Branson Creek has been rated #1 by Golf magazine and Golf Digest as "The Top Public Course in Missouri" for 11 consecutive years, 2000-2010.
The thing I like about Branson Creek is that it is a true golf test. It's a course where you'll end up using every club in your bag given the variety of hole designs and topography changes. Many tees are elevated and each green requires a careful read.
Our foursome played at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday and had a threesome in front of us and a foursome behind us. We got around the front nine in two hours and finished the round in 4:20. The marshall is good about keeping groups teeing off in a timely manner and maintaining speed of play.
For my money, you can't find a better public course in Kansas/Missouri. The twosome we played with hailed from Pawnee, OK and compared it as good or better than Karsten Creek, the well-known course in Stillwater.
If you're looking for a downside, it's that Branson Creek still doesn't have a true clubhouse--the pro shop and snack bar are situated in a double-wide trailer. But, as my playing partner reminded me, it's about the golf at Branson Creek.
71 par; 7,036 yards; 133 slope/73.0 rating; zoysia grass
It's hard to dispute Branson Creek's status as the #1 public course in Missouri. The practice facilities are first-rate and the course is simply one of the best. Don't expect a nice burger at the turn as the clubhouse is a double-wide trailer.