During a media visit in the final week in October I, along with several other invited journalists, were able to tour the planned Payne’s Valley 18-hole course along with an additional 19th hole. The design by Tiger Woods will be the first totally accessible to the public. The layout is planned to open in June 2020. Joining other golf course offerings part of the Big Cedar Lodge, located near Branson, Missouri.
The course is named in honor of Payne Stewart. The Missouri native grew up in nearby Springfield and was a three-time major champion. Tragically, Stewart lost his life in a plane accident that happened just over 20 years ago.
Be the first to play what’s anticipated to be one of the greatest golf courses in the world by Johnny Morris and Tiger Woods. Payne’s Valley Preview Play is now available, weather permitting. Call 844-293-5842 to book your tee time. https://t.co/9X9QniSg3q pic.twitter.com/T3IFyyaHR7— Big Cedar Lodge (@BigCedarLodge) November 8, 2019
The tour of the property took place over much of the front nine which is nearly finished in terms of course preparation. Grass for the tees and fairways will be zoysia with bent grass on the greens.
The property for the course is truly expansive and is located just below the main clubhouse building. Needless to say, the views of the course from the clubhouse are truly an eyeful with the Ozarks in plain site.
There are also plans to construct a mega-sized practice area located near the clubhouse and providing a downhill launch pad with a number of practice targets provided. Also being built is a 19th hole “betting hole” which has become a staple for other facilities to provide. The hole will be located nearby to the 18th green.
The opening hole is a very strong long par-4 — descending downhill go abruptly and showcasing the finely manicured turf. Payne’s Valley will include 85 acres of fairway which is truly enormous. The recently opened Ozarks National has 70.
The course shows Woods approach to golf design in having extremely wide fairways. I hesitate to say the course is akin to Augusta National but it clearly shows a desire to provide width in the driving areas with enormous putting surfaces featuring a range of internal contours.
The 2nd hole descends downhill as well but this time in the opposite direction. Listed at 266 yards the hole will play a bit shorter because of the elevation drop and often with the prevailing wind from the southwest assisting.
The routing for the remainder of the front nine follows an east/west, west/east direction. The short par-4 3rd provides an opportunity for stronger players to attempt a bold play from the tee. The par-5 4th is clearly reachable for strong players and features a fairway area as you near the green that is nearly a football field wide. The par-3 4th plays to an island green and at Tiger’s insistence a back teeing area was included.
The final five holes on the outward side are a mixed bag and clearly meant to include a range of club selections.
The final hole we could see is the par-3 10th which plays from an elevated teeing area to a green that’s very well defended with various bunkers.
RSM Classic R3
The inward side could only be viewed from a distance. The course superintendent pointed out where the holes go and how they provide a varying level of challenges with the planned 651-yard 13th truly being a test. Initially, the 17th and 18th holes were to be a par-5 and par-4 sequence. That has now been flipped with the par-5 18th being a last opportunity for a heroic play.
The key unanswered question is how the strategic elements will be brought to fruition. All will need to wait on that till the course opens sometime in 2020.
Payne’s Valley will feature the following distance from the championship tees —
#1 483 Yards Par 4
#2 266 Yards Par 3
#3 332 Yards Par 4
#4 533 Yards Par 5
#5 186 Yards Par 3
#6 442 Yards Par 4
#7 366 Yards Par 4
#8 570 Yards Par 5
#9 430 Yards Par 4
#10 185 Yards Par 3
#11 437 Yards Par 4
#12 341 Yards Par 4
#13 651 Yards Par 5
#14 422 Yards Par 4
#15 457 Yards Par 4
#16 227 Yards Par 3
#17 487 Yards Par 4
#18 560 Yards Par 5
Total – 7375 Yards – Par 72
#19 – 100 yards – Par-3