The Takeaway: The course that existed prior to Big Cedar Lodge being developed, this Fazio design has several large changes in terrain and elevation to deliver an engaging experience. A strong contender as the second best course at the resort. Grade B+
Designer: Tom Fazio in 2000
Cost: $105 - $175 Click for current rates
Phone Number: (417) 339-5430
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Buffalo Ridge Springs Course's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1001 Branson Creek Blvd, Hollister, Missouri 65672 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Buffalo Ridge Springs, known as Branson Creek prior to Big Cedar Lodge’s acquisition, is often referred to as the “player’s course” at the resort since it is more demanding on every aspect of your game than any of the other courses. While Payne’s Valley certainly tests players' length, the generous fairway widths allow far more forgiveness with the driver than Fazio gives players at Buffalo Ridge. That isn’t to say the course is tight by any means, but it is more exacting and thus more rewarding when executing the proper shot. The course is routed through perhaps the most interesting terrain at Big Cedar Lodge with players adventuring over hills, through trees, and along elaborate water hazards. The comfort station is found after one of these large water hazards that protects the right side of the 5th green. Here you will find complimentary bison dogs, chips, soda, and other snacks. The most dramatic holes are found on the back with the 14th and 15th featuring demanding shot making paired with waterfall hazards to avoid. The conditioning unfortunately isn’t as good here as it is at the newer courses and doesn’t drain as well which is partially due to the number of holes carved through the low spots in the terrain and the fairway edges that slope back to the center in places. While each of the full length courses at Big Cedar Lodge can make a legitimate argument on why it is the best, for me Buffalo Ridge is in a tight battle for the #2 spot behind Payne’s Valley.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 15th Hole – 366 Yard Par 4 – The 15th embodies much of what the courses at Big Cedar Lodge delivers; a dramatic setting, Missouri rock, water features, and plenty of fun along the way. The downhill tee shot on this relatively short par four plays to an ascending fairway flanked on the right by a series of waterfalls while the left side is laden with bunkers. The greensite sits below a rock retaining wall and features a pair of bunkers on the right, a false front, and a distinct tier in the putting surface. It is a beautiful hole and the highlight of a dramatic back nine.
Best Par 3: 17th Hole – 165 Yards – The final one-shotter on the course plays northeasterly to a green fronted by a bunker and flanked on the right by a pond that is fed by water coming from a cave behind the green and the water continues along in front of the putting surface. When the pin is on the right the water is a factor to consider and when it is on the left you have the sand to contend with. A back left pin is the easiest to attack while a front right pin has a lot more poor results waiting than good ones. It is an attractive and strategic hole to feature late in the round.
Best Par 4: 5th Hole – 449 Yards – A dramatic downhill tee shot awaits at the 5th with a series of bunkers on the right side pinching the fairway more and more the further towards the hole you get. A large pond flanks the right side of the hole halfway down the fairway up to the green and comes into play on both the tee shot and the approach. The green begins to peninsula slightly into the water on the right side while a trio of bunkers stand to protect the front and back. The left side is the safe side throughout this two-shotter so the best chance of conquering it is along the route. Afterwards, stop in at the food stand for a complimentary bison dog before finishing the rest of the front nine.
Best Par 5: 8th Hole – 524 Yards – The final par five on the front is relatively short in yardage but challenging in execution. The left side of the tee shot is lined with a series of ponds while the right side is laced with forest. Since the hole plays as a soft double dogleg, tee shots up the safer right side are blocked out from reaching the green in two so if you want a chance to see an eagle putt you will have to challenge the water on the left. The approach shot plays well uphill to a green protected on the left by a large bunker which will certainly be in play if you are attacking from the left half of the fairway. The severe uphill climb plays two clubs longer than the number and Fazio puts a small false front on the green to make sure if you reach this green in two you've earned it.
Birdie Time: 6th Hole – 353 Yard Par 4 – Playing downhill and tipping out at just 353 yards, the 6th is an opportunity to throw a birdie on the card. You don't need driver here, so just take a club that keeps you short of the fairway bunker and then you can go flag hunting. The green is raised so if you are between clubs take the longer of the two and stay out of the bunker on the front left.
Bogey Beware: 14th Hole – 615 Yard Par 5 – The 14th truly is a beauty and a beast. A pond fronts the tee and is fed by a creek that runs the entire length of the right side of the hole while a pair of bunkers sit on the left side of the fairway in the driving zone. The fairway tilts from left to right to ensure proper drainage into the creek and reaching this green in two isn't a likely proposition, so take whatever you need off the tee in order to find the short grass. The creek cuts across the fairway in front of the green to the base of a waterfall that tumbles next to the iconic bridge and sets the stage for a dramatic approach shot. A trio of bunkers are found around the putting surface and the false front is quick to repel shots into the water, so anything less than perfection is pure trouble. If you can cover all 615 yards here in five shots and walk away with a par, you'll be at least a stroke ahead of most players at Buffalo Ridge for the day.