Player, Morris offer glimpse at new course during Legends of Golf press conference

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RIDGEDALE, Mo. – Noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris joined golf legend Gary Player and officials from the PGA Tour and Big Cedar Lodge today to announce plans for the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge and preview the latest jewel to join the premier golf oasis – the soon-to-open Gary Player-designed course. Golf’s greatest champions return to Big Cedar Lodge April 19-23.

Legends of Golf attendees have a rare opportunity to witness golf’s living legends up close as they navigate the majestic courses at Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve, the only Par-3 course to play host to a PGA TOUR tournament, and Buffalo Ridge Springs, recently named the number one ranked public golf course in the state of Missouri by Golf Magazine. This year’s participants include icons of the sport like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson, and welcomes new Champions Tour participants including golf greats John Daly, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal, among many other elite golfers.

Champions Tour participants will play 54 holes, while the Legends Tour will crown a champion after 36 holes, making way for a special Sunday competition between golf royalty – Nicklaus, Player, Trevino and special guests – which will air during Sunday’s live coverage of Legends of Golf on Golf Channel. Broadcast internationally on Golf Channel, the excitement of Legends of Golf and the picturesque setting of Big Cedar Lodge is delivered to 300 million homes in 220 countries and territories.

New Gary Player course details revealed

Plans for the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf were unveiled at the new Gary Player-designed golf course. The course is the latest gem in the Big Cedar Lodge collection of world-class golf amenities set to open later this year. The family-style short course features 13 par-three holes set high in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains and offers breathtaking views of the natural beauty of the region. Golfers will traverse through dramatic 300 million-year-old limestone cave-like formations during their round on the walking-only course. The result of a shared vision between Johnny Morris and golf icon Gary Player, the mountain-top course is designed to be enjoyable for pros and amateurs alike, featuring multiple tee boxes on each hole to accommodate golfers of all ages and skill levels.

“I’ve never seen a course this drastically stunning – playing here and observing the transitions between wonderful rock formations and breathtaking views will leave an indelible mark on every kind of golfer,” said golf icon Gary Player. “The beauty of the Ozarks will be on full display and I am so pleased to partner with Johnny Morris on a project that celebrates our shared passion for the outdoors and connecting people to nature through golf.”

2017 tournament highlights

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Legends of Golf and the fourth year that Big Cedar Lodge has played host. It also marks the first Legends tournament since the passing of golf icon Arnold Palmer, a contributing designer to the Big Cedar Lodge golf experience and a dear friend of Johnny Morris. His deep understanding and appreciation for how golf connects people to the landscape and to nature continues to inspire the vision and evolution of Big Cedar Lodge as an unmatched outdoor experience. Palmer will be honored throughout the 2017 Legends of Golf tournament.

Ticket prices and promotions for 2017 Legends of Golf

Ticket prices and packages start as low as $20 for the fourth-annual Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf:

  • Military & First Responders can receive FREE general daily passes courtesy of White River Electric Company (valid military ID required).
  • Daily Pass tickets are available for $25 ($20 when paid with a MasterCard) and grant access to Top of the Rock and/or Buffalo Ridge on any one day from Wednesday, April 19 through Sunday, April 23.
  • Gold Combo Packages are available for $100 ($80 when paid with a MasterCard) and offer exclusive access to see the legends play every day from April 19 through 23. In addition to offering access to tournament play on both courses, this premium pass also admits guests to Arnie’s Barn at Top of the Rock where participants can dine at the restaurant, visit the pro shop, and see the legends up close. Fans are encouraged to purchase Gold Combo packages now, as quantities are limited.

There are also special events, promotions and giveaways offering excitement for fans of all ages:

  • A special concert featuring country music legend Hank Williams, Jr. will take place Thursday evening (April 20) at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Shooting Academy. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public.
  • Satuday (April 22) is Family Fun Day, where all children ages 17 and under receive free admission with a paying adult. YouTube stars and trick-shot aficionados Dude Perfect will make a special appearance on the Arnold Palmer Practice Facility at 3:00 p.m. along with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and PGA TOUR Champions golfers. All Family Fun Day guests will also receive a special gift from the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau and a free chicken sandwich courtesy of Chick-Fil-A (limited quantity available).
  • FREE parking is available for all spectators.


Tickets for this year’s Legends of Golf tournament are on sale now. Fans can purchase advance tickets by:

Big Cedar Lodge emerging as world-class golf destination

On the heels of the Gary Player-designed course joining the fold this year, 2018 will welcome further evidence of Big Cedar Lodge’s one-of-a-kind golf offerings. The to-be-named, 18-hole championship course is being designed by celebrated golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Together, Coore and Crenshaw have collaborated on many of the most highly regarded courses built in the U.S. in the last 20 years. Measuring 7,100 yards from the back tees, the course represents a highland links style, with strategic bunkering and slopes that enhance the player experience.

New courses inspired by Player, Coore and Crenshaw will soon join Big Cedar Lodge’s two distinct golf offerings which host Legends of Golf tournament play – Top of the Rock and Buffalo Ridge Springs.

Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson are the names behind the design of Top of the Rock, which offers a one-of-a-kind golf experience unmatched in the U.S. The natural Ozarks topography adds a unique twist to the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, which features nine Par-3 holes with magnificent views of Table Rock Lake. The Arnold Palmer Practice Facility features 16 target greens, recessed lighting and teeing decks.

The remarkable 18-hole Buffalo Ridge Springs golf course has won acclaim as one of the region’s best public golf courses. Originally opened in 1999, Buffalo Ridge Springs has since been transformed by the guiding hands of visionary conservationist Johnny Morris and renowned golf architect Tom Fazio. A 2014 redesign revitalized the course by raising every aspect to Tour-quality standards and by bringing players in close contact with nature, native grasses, and even free-ranging bison from nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.

Johnny Morris has long called the Ozarks home, and remains captivated by its beauty and rich history. Big Cedar Lodge epitomizes Morris’ passion for the outdoors and his imagination as the world’s premier outdoor resort. Unique golf experiences, like all activities at Big Cedar Lodge, connect people to nature and illustrate the importance of conservation.


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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source