On the southern tip of the midwest is the beautiful state of Missouri. But as anyone who has traveled to or lived in the land of the Ozarks can tell you, this state has a southern appeal (and drawl) working for it. This unique feel is also reflected in Missouri’s golf courses, which, in addition to being open much longer than the courses in the northern regions of the midwest, offer a good representation of the varied landscapes on display in this part of the country.
To get you started on where you should golf if you make it to the state that bridges north and south, here are five Missouri golf courses you need to play.
Best Private Course: Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis)
Located about 20 minutes west of downtown St. Louis, the Robert Trents Jones III designed Bellerive Country Club drips with southern charm from the moment you arrive. The stately clubhouse and majestic layout provide a golfing experience unmatched in the state and quite possibly the region.
The front nine opens with a picturesque par 4 that is deceptively challenging. The fairway on 1 is crowded with trees and requires you to split the fairway in order to have a chance at par. The greens on 2, 3, and 6 are guarded by water hazards and green side bunkers come into play on the rest of the holes on the front nine.
A round at Bellerive gives you the chance to play in a truly beautiful setting. The course is always in prime condition and many of the tee shots and subsequent approaches call for pin point accuracy as towering oaks dare you to miss left or right. While the greens are uncommonly large, they are often sloped, undulating, and very quick.
The course is plenty deep from the black tees, playing at over 7500 yards and is a regulation par 72.
Because it is a private course, you can’t just waltz into Bellerive and play a quick 18. However, it is possible to play the course as a guest at the invitation of a member. Beg, borrow, or steal—do whatever it takes to get on this gem and enjoy your round.
Best Public Course: Buffalo Ridge Golf Course (Hollister)
One of the most unique courses in the midwest and the best public course in Missouri is Buffalo Ridge Golf Course. This Tom Fazio designed track connects you to the natural terrain of the area and even features roaming buffalo just off to the left and right of numerous holes.
The front nine starts with a downhill par 5 with a stunning creek as a boundary flowing down the left of the fairway. The Ozarks offer a spectacular backdrop for number 2 as the wide fairway sprawls out before you like a green carpet. But it is the par 5 hole 8 that is perhaps the signature hole on the course. Running the length of the hole is a creek that culminates in a cascading waterfall. It is breathtaking and requires skill to avoid.
The course finished with a long dogleg left, another par 5, this one littered with bunkers along the left side of the fairway. Buffalo Ridge really is a one-of-a-kind course and utilizes the natural beauty of the region to give you an unbelievable round of golf.
The course isn’t all that long, even from the blacks it is just over 7000 yards, though it is a par 71.
Buffalo Ridge can be an expensive track to play and will cost you $135 during the peak season to walk 18. But in January and February, you can get a round in for $80.
Most Scenic Course: Branson Hills Golf Club (Branson)
While Buffalo Ridge could definitely contend for the title of most scenic course in the state, it is Branson Hills Golf Club that takes top billing. Branson is known as a top tourist destination in the area and the course with the same name matches the region perfectly.
The course features narrow and twisting fairways that have plenty of dips you need to take into account. The first hole also sneaks up on you with a water hazard to the left of the green that is partially hidden by trees. The second hole is a wide open, albeit deep par 3 that is slightly down hill with a green that feels like a stage.
On the back nine you’ll find varied landscape and desolate areas that you definitely want to stay out of. Several holes require perfectly shaped shots in order to maneuver your way to the green safely. Rock, sand, trees, and water all come into play at some point on this breathtaking golf course.
The course place at 7324 from the tips and is a par 72.
The price for 18 walking fluctuates throughout the day and year and ranges anywhere from $79-130.
Most Challenging Course: The Missouri Bluffs Golf Course (Saint Charles)
All of the courses on this list can be challenging in their own way, but The Missouri Bluffs Golf Course is perhaps one of the most demanding in the state. Another Tom Fazio course, The Missouri Bluffs course is known for its greens surrounded by trees and tight fairways that require both accuracy and power.
At 549 yards from the blacks, the first hole does give the course a promising start as the fairway is generously wide and the green dips gently from back to front. But things become considerably more challenging with the long par 3 second hole that features a green that moves away from you. From there, the course continue to be a challenge and requires precision to play well.
All told, this par 71 is a little over 7000 yards from the blacks and has a rating of 73.2 and slope rating of 131.
The course is a good deal too, with rates often as low as $40 for 18 walking.
Best Value Course: Shoal Creek Golf Course (Kansas City)
Located in Kansas City, Shoal Creek Golf Course is the best deal is the entire state. The number 2 rated public course is absolutely stunning and the layout is perfect. It has everything you need for a great round of golf.
Many of the rolling fairways are lined with mature trees and the course makes great use of the natural terrain. There are elevation changes, rock walls, bent grass, tall grass and more.
The course is 6983 yards long and is a par 71.
The best part of the course is how affordable it is. Twilight rates can get as low as $40 after 4 pm.
Missouri is the consummate golfer’s state and these courses are just the tip of the iceberg. The state has hundreds of high quality tracks just waiting to be played. Get out to Missouri and see what you think of Shoal Creek, Missouri Bluffs, Buffalo Ridge and others. Happy Golfing.
Did we miss a course? Write about your Missouri golf experience and which courses you think every golfer should play.