Celebrated by Golfweek as one of the 40 Best New Courses of 2010, the site where Civil War–bushwhacker Alfred Bolin and his gang once ambushed unsuspecting travelers is now John Daly’s Murder Rock Golf and Country Club. The 18-hole course plots an oscillating, 6,727-yard path over the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. The first hole sets the tone for the round with an elevated tee box that looks out 363 yards downhill into the mountainous contours that ripple against the horizon. The par 71 course concludes at the daunting 18th hole—the course’s longest par four and most difficult hole—where an aggressive drive can cut off the corner of a dog-leg right on the way to a severely sloped green and portal into Space Jam.
Legs weary from ascending steep hills or squat-thrusting golf carts can take a load off at Glenn’s at Murder Rock. Amid dark-stained wood paneling and leather-upholstered chairs, the eatery serves an inventive grill menu including steak flatbread sandwiches and pitas stuffed with Cajun-seasoned chicken or shrimp.
Course at a Glance:
Amid the dense woods and dramatic slopes of the Ozarks, the sun rises over an 18-hole golf course, casting 7,324 yards of Tour-worthy fairways and greens in golden hues. A mist rises up from the grass blades, a nearby bird calls out, and it becomes obvious how fitting of a memorial the setting is to the late Payne Stewart. The iconic knickers-clad Missouri native charmed the golf world and won two U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship before his untimely end in 1999. Today, the Chuck Smith–designed Payne Stewart Golf Club carries hole names such as “Payne’s Pit” and “Chelsea’s Kiss”—the latter a reference to Payne’s daughter—in tribute.
A serpentine creek gurgles between two sets of parallel holes—the 9th and 15th, and the 16th and 17th—placing a premium on confident swings and sand wedges that double as snorkels. The most difficult hole on the course, the 9th, boasts tricky shot-making challenges—the tee shot and approach must clear water—and memorable scenery as golfers traverse a footbridge to reach the green, which sits next to a waterfall. In 2012, such features helped the course top Golfweek’s list of best courses in Missouri.
Course at a Glance
Using the Ozark Mountains as a striking backdrop, Kings River Golf Course invites clubbers to swing and putt their way across 18 holes of gently undulating terrain. Dogwoods and redbuds cast cool shadows over each fairway, their leaves showcasing rich shades of green in the summer, fading to an impressionistic tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows in the fall, and assuming a velvety purple once a year to celebrate Prince's birthday. As golfers split fairways with soaring drives, views of the Ozark Mountains appear through the tree lines, including a greenside vista of Table Rock Lake on the 15th hole.
After sunset, greenskeepers mark flags with glow sticks, inviting golfers to swing through the darkness in rounds of night golf. The course fosters post-round relaxation at a rustic patio, where guests can sip drinks and insist that nearby deer, red fox, and turkeys—commonly encountered on the grounds—stay off their lawn.
Founded 16 years ago by Jay and Beth Handline, Dance Trance constructs an upbeat fitness regimen that doesn't require reenacting historic dance battles such as the Hoedown of Antietam to burn calories. During hour-long classes, students are schooled in four to five dance routines for an invigorating workout appropriate for all ages and ability levels. Each fitness-driven session is different, keeping students on their toes with popular music, lighting effects, and diverse choreography. To keep up with new music and dance trends, exercises are choreographed on a quarterly basis; they incorporate jazz, funk, hip-hop, Latin, and Uncle Steve's best wedding-reception moves, plucked from the idea nests of Dance Trance choreographers across the country. Gym or aerobic shoes are required for class; the smoother the sole, the better.
The ninth hole at Thousand Hills Golf Course lays out the course’s most dramatic tee shot: lined with trees, the contoured fairway doglegs left, challenging players’ accuracy with the threat of a stint in the hole’s inside bunker. It’s one of eight par 4 holes on a course that also features nine par 3 holes, all of which course designer Robert E. Cupp stretched out across immaculate Zoysia fairways. The course has been dubbed a four-star course by Golf Digest and twice named best golf course by Springfield News-Leader readers.
Unique sand traps and natural Ozark hazards infuse the course with a regional lure that follows players as they weave through the surrounding hardwood forests and past rock formations carved by time and generations of abandoned caddies. Every round at Thousand Hills comes complete with a GPS-equipped cart, as well as access to an onsite pro shop and clubhouse.
Course at a Glance:
Upon moving to Branson in the early 1990s, Don and Lawanna Stuck spent their leisure time hunting, fishing, and paddling the White River’s waterways. Drawing upon their intimate knowledge of Branson’s waterways, they opened White River Kayaking & Outdoors on July 4, 2012. Equipped with rental paddles and life jackets, their customers can navigate standard kayaks, tandem kayaks, or fishing kayaks along Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake, or Bull Shoals Lake while marveling at the surrounding Ozark Mountains. Staffers drop guests off at several launch locations on each lake, and pick guests up at the conclusion of their float. White River Kayaking & Outdoors also rents out bicycles, which visitors can take around Branson’s parks and trails or pedal across the lake to combine two sports during a triathlon.