The par-5 eighteenth plays around “The Sea of Trees.”
If you just play one course in Branson, everyone would be delighted to play Branson Creek. This exquisite Tom Fazio-design is playable and yet has the championship pedigree to handle most any competition. Set up immaculately with exquisite Zoysia fairways and speedy smooth greens, the golf course is the equal to any premier private club experience.
Like its neighbor Murder Rock, Branson Creek offers a grand scale to its features and vistas and Fazio, ever the artist, is adept at painting a picture on each tee box scoring high on the “Wow Factor.” Whether you begin your round on the first or tenth tees, you are quickly presented with large fairways together with many handsomely sculptured bunkers that define the challenge. The truth of the matter is that many of the bunkers (particularly the fairway ones) don’t come into play with reasonably good shots, but rather the challenge is set upon the speedy greens. Wisely Fazio didn’t build too much slope into the putting surfaces, but that doesn’t mean that many of them are not treacherous – a fact you will discover immediately on the first and second holes.
There are so many extremely attractive holes and I might go so far as to call the set of par-fours one of the best you will face in America, certainly among public-access golf. The course also finishes with a bang. Reminiscent of the eighteenth at Pebble Beach, you face a slight dogleg to the left, but instead of the Pacific Ocean, the hazard is a “Sea of Trees” and jungle-like rough that drops off immediately to the left of the fairway bunkering. As with many Fazio holes, if you challenge the angles and try to cut something off, you risk a disaster, but if you instead play conservatively away from the trouble, a good score could be in the offing. The green is perched near that Sea of Trees and is protected by some challenging hole positions and slopes that easily defend par making for a most memorable finish.
(For those who care, this facility operates out of a trailer, but features absolutely first-class practice facilities. The green fees typically range in the high two-figures, but considering the quality of the golf, remain an outstanding value. Rental sets are top-of-the-line new models, but cost $40, which is typically higher compared to other area golf courses.)
PGA General Manager Mark Ophoven says that while Branson Creek Golf Club may not be heaven, it’s only a local call away, and he just may be “closest to the pin” with that call.
Fagan Rating: B+. This ultra high rating reflects my opinion that Branson Creek is not only one of the best courses in Missouri, but it also ranks among the best hundred or so public-access courses in America. It is easily superior to most private facilities you will ever encounter. There are any number of spectacular sights both on and off the golf course so be sure to bring your camera.
Looking back from the green up the fairway at the par-4 second 471-yard second hole, rated Branson Creek’s toughest.