Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris has announced a collaborative partnership with 79-time PGA TOUR winner Tiger Woods and the Payne Stewart family that includes plans to create the first-ever public access golf courses designed by TGR Design. It is being touted as a world-class championship golf course and a family friendly short course at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri.
Beyond the championship course, the partnership includes plans for a future Woods-designed par-3 “short course” on Big Cedar property.
Scheduled to open in 2019 and named in honour of the late Payne Stewart, the new “Payne’s Valley” Golf Course will be the first completed fully public-access course in the world designed by Tiger Woods’ design firm TGR Design. Being built to showcase the region’s natural beauty, the championship course will feature an extraordinarily dramatic 19th hole, “The Rock,” that can be used to settle unfinished wagers. The hole was envisioned by nature-loving Morris, and is set in one of the most dramatic geological features imaginable. The challenging but player-friendly walkable course will have an unforgettable finish where golfers will actually traverse through a breathtaking natural cavern system to return to the clubhouse after completing the 19th hole.
“I couldn’t be more proud to partner with Johnny Morris to debut my first public-access courses at Big Cedar Lodge,” said Tiger Woods. “Johnny’s incredible passion for connecting people of all ages and walks of life to nature is truly inspiring. Together we’re tremendously excited to create a publicly accessible world-class golf experience in the centre of America.”
Morris and Woods first connected almost two decades ago, shortly after Tiger win the 1997 Masters.
The now 14-time major champion purchased a “Bass Tracker” fishing boat sold by Morris at their Bass Pro shop stores. Morris and his son delivered the product themselves and spent time fishing with Woods.
“My boy and I were both very impressed by how down to earth and engaging Tiger was, and by how much he loved to fish,” said Johnny Morris.
“When we contemplated building another golf course at Big Cedar last year, my son John and I visited Tiger’s new Bluejack National course in Texas and we were both blown away! It is a truly breathtakingly beautiful place very reminiscent of Augusta National. After spending more time with Tiger and his team, it became apparent to us that Tiger is extremely dedicated to applying his worldly knowledge of golf to develop great courses. His aim is to design and build only a select number of courses that are of extraordinarily high standards, with an emphasis on width and playability creating a fun and enjoyable experience for all. We quickly became excited about Tiger’s design philosophies and the three of us began to dream together about creating a world-class golf course in our stunning Ozark surroundings. We are very proud to align with Tiger to create an unforgettable golf experience that players of all abilities will be able to enjoy again and again.”
Honouring the Legacy of Payne Stewart
The “Payne’s Valley” Course will pay tribute to the legacy of the late Payne Stewart, a friend of both Morris and Woods as well as an Ozarks native who won 11 PGA TOUR events, including three Major championships. Stewart and his father Bill Stewart were instrumental in helping to establish golf in the region and nationally. To further honour Stewart’s legacy, Morris, with the help of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, is also creating The Payne Stewart Learning Facility, an extraordinary practice facility that will contain a tribute museum displaying Stewart’s personal trophies, scorecards, apparel, equipment, photos and more.
Morris will also honour Stewart by expanding support to a number of charitable initiatives linked to the course. 2017 marks the third year Big Cedar Lodge will host the American Junior Golf Association for the Bass Pro Shops Payne Stewart Junior Championship. The new course will serve as a future home for the event.
In conjunction with the new course, Morris will open a local chapter of The First Tee, a nonprofit youth development organization that provides educational programs to build character, instil values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. The new chapter will include ongoing youth programming at the course to ensure kids of all ages and skill levels have the opportunity to develop their golf skills while enjoying the outdoors.
Payne’s Valley Course will be a fitting complement to the overall diverse golf, angling and shooting experience at Big Cedar Lodge. The new course will be located adjacent to a new 13-hole short course designed by golf legend Gary Player (opening in 2017) and “Ozarks National,” an 18-hole championship course designed by acclaimed architects Coore & Crenshaw (debuting in 2018). The courses will join Big Cedar Lodge’s existing golf offerings, the 9-hole par-3 course designed by Jack Nicklaus, Top of the Rock, a 16-hole practice facility by the late Arnold Palmer, a 6,000-square-foot Tom Watson “Himalayan” putting complex, and the 18-hole championship course designed by Tom Fazio, Buffalo Ridge, hosts of the annual Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.