Johnny Morris, who made his fortune off his Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s empire, has a place that symbolizes his love for the great outdoors. Big Cedar Lodge in the foothills of the Ozarks about an hour’s drive south of his hometown of Springfield, Missouri, is vast in every sense. It’s a celebration of Morris’ dedication to outdoor life, preserving the history of the region and conserving this 4,600-acre playland.
The expanse supports a range of activities including golf, fishing, shooting, hiking, canoeing, water sports and horseback riding, as well as a fitness center and a spa. A host of activities entertain children, meaning you have another option: just lounging.
Golf has become a major component of the lodge. Buffalo Ridge Springs is the original Big Cedar golf facility, redone by architect Tom Fazio. Top of the Rock is a stunning nine-hole, par-3 course by Jack Nicklaus with an Arnold Palmer-designed practice range that is lit for night play. Gary Player planned the Mountain Top course, a 13-hole short track. Morris recently opened Ozarks National, a Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore layout over sprawling ridges. Payne’s Valley is the newest track, and it’s Tiger Woods’ first public course.
The resort wraps around the base of Table Rock Lake and fishing beckons the freshwater angler for an array of species, including smallmouth bass. Table Rock Lake is also the backdrop for the Shooting Academy, which offers ATA Trap, Wobble Trap, American Skeet, Sporting Clays and Five Stand.
Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail wends it way through the stunning striated rock formations of the region, boring right into the rock itself while skirting the area’s myriad waterfalls.
The rustic-elegant accommodations ($409–$549 per night) run from lodge rooms to log cabins and cottages. Larger accommodations can house extended families or small corporate group outings. Many have galley kitchens.
Handmade cigars are available for purchase throughout the resort, including at the golf courses. At the Top of the Rock facility, the fine dining restaurant Osage stocks Arturo Fuentes, Ashtons, Padrón Serie 1926, Flor de Las Antillas, La Gloria Cubanas and Olivas. They can be smoked outside near the infinity pool. Puff away with the expansive beauty of Table Rock Lake in the background, and dream of the big fish lurking beneath the surface.