Payne’s Valley Golf Course Review: Tiger Woods Design
Club Name: Big Cedar Lodge
Course Name: Payne’s Valley Golf Course
Location: 1250 Golf Club Drive, Hollister, Missouri 65672, United States
Date Played: Late 2020
Course Type: Resort
Architects: Tiger Woods Design
Located in Branson, Missouri, Payne’s Valley was completed in 2020 and is one of two Tiger Woods’ Design courses available for play in the United States. Payne’s Valley is the only public course that is a Tiger Woods Design. The layout offers stunning views of mountains with the Big Cedar clubhouse overlooking the course.
Since the course was completed in 2020, the course has yet to host any PGA Tour events. However, Tiger Woods hosted the Payne’s Valley Cup when the full 18 holes became available for play, on September 22, 2020. Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas defeated Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose on the 19th hole.
When you begin to research Payne’s Valley, one of the most talked-about features is the stunning 19th hole. This is a short par-3 cut straight out of a mountain with beautiful, breathtaking views all the way through the mountain. A short par-3 of roughly 120 yards, the shot itself into the green isn’t so challenging. It is more of a cherry on top of such a delightful round (see below).
To warm up, you visit a driving range only accessible by a golf cart, or golf limo. Our group jumped in the 8-seater cart and all got there in one trip. The driving range is shared by the other golf courses at Big Cedar Lodge and is in great shape. There were plenty of teeing areas to choose from. The grass was in very good shape with plenty of balls to hit onto the range. The range itself was very flat but with plenty of flag targets to zone in your game before you begin your journey.
The first few holes are a great way to warm up. The first hole is a downhill par-4 with a wide fairway that will leave most people a short iron or wedge approach. This is followed by a longer par-3 and driveable par-4.
The par-5 4th hole is another great “warm-up” hole before you really get into the tougher parts of the track. A good drive leaves you a 3-wood or long iron into the green. I hit in a fairway bunker and then laid up short to where the picture was taken. It was a 60-70 yard pitch on and a 1 putt for my first birdie of the day. Tiger Woods also birdied this hole in the Payne’s Valley Cup, so I can now officially say Tiger and I have birdied the same hole.
After a couple of great “warm-up” holes, the course begins to get tighter off the tee. Although the course itself is not very “tight” with some fairways as wide as 50-60 yards, the ones that are tight may catch you off guard. I know it did for one of my tee shots!
Throughout the course, it is very hilly hence the name “Valley.” It was certainly nice to have a golf cart as it would be very tiresome if walking up and down all of the hills. From my perspective, the front 9 was much more hilly and ‘up and down’ than the back 9 which, although it still had some hills, was much flatter for the most part.
The design uses water hazards along with high rough throughout. There is plenty of water, and although beautiful, may take your ball on a swim. It’s hard to become disappointed though as you look around and see the breathtaking views.
Throughout the entire course, you can always see the signature “Big Cedar Lodge,” clubhouse. The stunning structure looks over Tiger’s greatest public golf creation thus far. It is always in the corner of your eye as you walk down the fairways (and sometimes rough/sand ).
The 6 new holes that were created more recently had areas where you could tell sod was recently laid. Before fully opening, this facility had just 12 holes open while they finished construction. Other than the final 6 holes, the course was immaculate.
The greens were running roughly an 11 which is still a treat to play on, but not overly difficult to where you don’t have a great time. The greenkeepers did a great job and there were not many pitch marks on the greens.
The fairways were perfect at Payne’s Valley. The fairway is made of Zoysia grass that is pinched when mowed. The ball in the fairway sits up like it is on a tee and is a delight to play on.
The tees were all immaculate. Perfect 90-degree corners with not a huge amount of divots taken out of them. The course does a great job of maintaining a place that gets so many rounds per day. If you’re a ‘big boy’ you get to take on the Tiger Tees. I did for a few shots just to say Tiger and I have hit the same shot.
Although certain holes are challenging, this course is a typical resort course. The fairways at Payne’s Valley are quite wide with the intention of keeping the pace of play up. It is still long enough, along with quality greens and elevation changes to still be challenging even to a seasoned golfer. With plenty of tee options, this course fits all levels of play.
Off The Course
The clubhouse was a little lacking. Although there was a bit of apparel to choose from, there was not a ton of trinkets or tokens to buy. Sure, there were a few hats, but the idea of playing “Tiger’s course,” would make me think that there should be that kind of trinket available. There was just the typical apparel you’d find at any pro shop.
Payne’s Valley Golf Course Green Fees
It doesn’t appear that the 2023 Payne’s Valley greens fees are significantly higher than when Nick played back in 2020. You do get complimentary snacks on the course.
|Jan 22 – Mar 9||Mar 10-Apr 16||Apr 17-Oct 29||Oct 30-Dec 3||Dec 4-Dec 31|
|Junior (under 18)||$85||$85||$85||$85||$75|
If you want to share your cart with a non-golfing partner then the cart riding fee is $75!
Payne’s Valley Golf Course Photos
All the images used above in this article are original and were supplied by the author Nick Tannahill.
Here are a few more photos of Payne’s Valley Golf Course at Big Cedar Lodge.
Payne’s Valley 19th Hole
Probably the most unique feature of the course is the intriguing short 19th hole. The hole is only a flick for most players at around the 120-yard mark but the green is surrounded by water having been cut out of the rock.
Payne’s Valley Golf Course Review: Summary
If you’re a big Tiger Woods fan like the group I played the course with, I think you have to play it. The “Tiger’s Course” theme kind of wore down pretty quickly a few holes in, but it was still an awesome course to play.
At $325 per round, I’m not sure it was worth the price of admission. When you consider that Pebble Beach which is regarded as the bucket list for everyone is just a few hundred dollars more. But to say you birdied the same hole as Tiger Woods did is priceless to me! It is certainly another green fee where you could ask whether golf is too expensive.
If you fancy getting your new course designed by Tiger Woods then check out his design company.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
How Much Does It Cost To Play Payne’s Valley?
The cost of playing Payne’s Valley varies depending on the time of year. Resort guests will have to pay between $150-$325 per round. Visitors will have to pay $165-$350 per round while under-18s will be charged $75-$85 for 18 holes.
Who Owns Payne’s Valley Golf Course?
Payne’s Valley Golf Course is part of the Big Cedar Lodge. Johnny Morris purchased the property in 1987 and began developing a wilderness resort on more than 4500 acres. Morris built the Bass Pro Shops chain.
Is there a Tiger Woods 19th hole at Payne’s Valley?
Yes, there is a 19th hole at Payne’s Valley. In addition to the normal 18-hole layout the Tiger Woods design team added a challenging short par-3 hole with an island green.