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5 Best Public Golf Courses

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to tee up. We’ve found the five best public courses where you can sharpen your swing—no membership required.

Written by Claire Porter | Photo by Kevin O’Riley

Mar 2016

Buffalo Ridge Golf Course

1. Buffalo Ridge Golf Course

1001 Branson Creek Blvd., Hollister, 417-339-5430, topoftherock.com/buffalo-ridge-golf-course

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing a tee time with a free-roaming buffalo at this Branson golf course. The greens here have played host to the PGA Tour Bass Pro Shop Legends Tournament, been voted the No. 1 public course in Missouri by GOLF magazine and been named one of the top 10 courses in Missouri every year since 2001 by Golf Digest.

Cost of One Round: Rates from $70

 

2. Rivercut Golf Course

2850 W. Farm Rd. 190, Springfield, 417-891-1645, rivercut.com/rcgolf.asp

Staying true to its name, Rivercut Golf Course meanders along the James River just south of Springfield. The 18-hole municipal course was designed by Ken Dye and hosts several qualifying rounds for tournaments such as the Governor’s Cup and the City Championship. 

Cost of One Round: Rates from $42 to $52

 

3. Branson Hills Golf Course

100 N. Payne Stewart Dr., Branson, 417-337-2963, bransonhillsgolfclub.com

Formerly named Payne Stewart Golf Course, Branson Hills Golf Course was ranked the No. 1 golf course in the state for four consecutive years by Golfweek magazine and is also home to the Magnolia Grille restaurant. The Chuck Smith-designed course is one of the most difficult in the area, but multiple-distance tees cater to players at any level. 

Cost of One Round: Rates from $59 to $100

 

4. Ledgestone

1600 Ledgestone Way, Branson West, 417-335-8187, ledgestonegolf.com

Ledgestone Golf Course is one of Branson’s best-kept secrets. The scenic course was designed by Tom Clark and is nestled into the Ozark Mountains. Rock outcroppings, creeks, ponds and stunning scenery weave through the 18-hole course, which was named one of the top five best courses in Missouri and one of the best resort courses by Golfweek magazine.  

Cost of One Round: Rates from $59 to $89

 

5. Bill & Payne Stewart Golf Course

1825 E. Norton Rd., Springfield, 417-833-9962, parkboard.org/1043/Golf-Courses

Named for local golf legend Bill Stewart and his PGA Championship–winning son Payne, this Perry Maxwell–designed course opened in 1947 and is the oldest public course in Springfield. The available PGA Professionals love the unique character—or “flavor” as they call it—of the undulating greens, which force players to be dedicated and focused. 

Cost of One Round: Rates from $26 to $37