Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Best Midwestern Golf Destinations for Golf Enthusiasts

best Midwestern golf destinations

As travel becomes more possible in the months ahead due to the pademic, it’s time to plan those longed-for golf vacations, that are included in our list of best Midwestern golf destinations.

From March into June, thoughts of taking a golf vacation were mostly on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But by mid-June, all 50 states had begun to reopen to varying degrees. Although reaching some of our desired golf resorts may still not be immediately possible, many are opening up once again. So, there’s never been a better time to enjoy planning that special golf break. To tempt you further, here’s a selection of some of the best Midwestern golf destinations that have much to offer while operating with appropriate social distancing measures.

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Mountain Scenery – Missouri

Ozark Mountains Big Cedar Lodge Resort, presented to us as “America’s Premier Wilderness Resort,” assures a warm welcome to all those seeking a memorable golf vacation. This luxury resort is placed within the magnificently rugged landscape of the Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, so if you long for the great outdoors, this is for you (complete with inviting accommodations, impressive restaurants, and four golf courses, along with some attractive package deals).

Big Cedar Lodge is being pitched as “America’s Next Great Golf Destination,” giving golf vacationers awesome choices, with courses designed by some of the top names in golf: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

In addition to the well-known Top of the Rock Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, the big new attraction has to be the Tiger Woods-designed Payne’s Valley Course, which opened this year— the first U.S. public golf course designed by Woods. TGR Design by Tiger Woods, says, “The design of Payne’s Valley creates a championship-caliber, family-friendly golf experience that will allow individuals of all skill levels to come together to enjoy the game and the beautiful natural setting.” Indeed, the course stands out as an inviting layout that includes challenging and pristine water features, large fairways and greens, and a spectacular 19th hole. This is truly gen in our list of best Midwestern golf destinations.

The Big Cedar Lodge Resort offers a choice of 10 tempting packages, in addition to some weekend golf getaway packages.

Here’s a taster:

“The Great Outdoors Golf Package”

•  Minimum one-night stay in your choice of


• 18 holes at Ozarks National

• 18 holes at Buffalo Ridge Springs

• 13 holes at Mountain Top

• Daily access to the Tom Watson Putting Course

• Complimentary range balls & rental clubs

• One 10% off coupon for logoed apparel

            from the pro shops.

With golf as the big attraction of the Big Cedar Lodge Resort, there are plenty of activities here if you want to mix it up with golf. There’s fishing for bass on Table Rock Lake’s 43,000 acres of clear water, or trout fishing at nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park; boating from Long Creek Marina; at the shooting academy there’s clay shooting, with shotgun and ammo provided; or simply chill out and enjoy spa treatments or the 10,000-acre nature park. The versatility makes this a standout and one of the best Midwestern golf destinations.

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Mississippi – Rich Choices

Golf enthusiasts come to Mississippi year-round to experience rolling fairways among lush southern landscapes and unparalleled post-round entertainment, including casino gaming and the south’s only location for legal sports betting.

With more than 140 courses to choose from—designed by prominent names like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Pate, Tom Fazio, Davis Love III and Bob Cupp—here are 10 interesting options in the state.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast has been a golf destination for more than 100 years, thanks to one of the oldest courses in the United States. Great Southern Golf Club was designed by famed architect Donald Ross and opened in 1908. Golf legends such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Babe Zaharias, Sam Snead, along with  President Woodrow Wilson, have played the course overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Open to the public, Mississippi’s oldest course is on many a golfer’s wishlist.

A premier Mississippi Gulf Coast course favorite is Fallen Oak, a Tom Fazio design exclusive to the high-end Beau Rivage Resort, an MGM property. The 18-hole, par-72 championship layout offers quite the challenge to the seasoned player, making it one of Mississippi’s most sought-after courses. The Beau Rivage-Fallen Oak package offers luxurious accommodations and a premium course for golfers with the highest standards.

Another renowned coastal course is Biloxi’s Preserve Golf Club. The Preserve has 245 acres of golf surrounded by 1,800 acres of preserved coastal land. Award-winning course designer and 1976 U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate designed the semi-private club’s 18 holes, integrating into the course layout the area’s natural landscapes of longleaf pine savannas, cypress swamps, live oak groves and native coastal grass prairies. The course is aligned with the Palace Casino and Resort but offers tee times to all.

Rounding out the coastal courses is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Grand Bear Golf Course. The signature course for Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino, Grand Bear is located in Saucier, approximately 20 miles north of Gulfport. The challenging yet beautiful course navigates through natural cypress wetlands and pine trees, with packed pine needle rough, championship greens and deep bunkers set over 650 acres of rolling land in the pinewoods of the DeSoto National Forest.

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North Missisippi

Less than an hour south of Memphis, Tunica is the gateway to the Mississippi Delta region. This is home to numerous music and gaming venues, including Hollywood Casino, Gold Strike and Horseshoe Casino. Among the gaming resorts is Tunica National, a Mark McCumber design. This public course features rolling terrain, wide fairways, generous greens and preserved natural surroundings indigenous to the region. As one of the state’s premier golf destinations, Tunica hotels and casinos offer year-round special rates and golf packages for Tunica National.

Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point combines the essence of the Scottish Highlands with a graceful Southern setting. Designed by Bob Cupp and former U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate, Old Waverly hosted the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open and 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Built on gently rolling terrain, the course is highlighted by the signature 18th hole, a 445-yard par-4 dogleg left with water along the left side. Gil Hanse, who designed the 2016 Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, designed Old Waverly’s sister course, Mossy Oak. Hanse’s signature minimalist design follows the natural lay of the land.

The Ninth Hole Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, MS. photographed on September 16-19, 2018 (Copyright USGA/Russell Kirk)

The course is dotted with mature oak trees along open fairways and slight elevation changes. The greens are pristine. Upon opening, the course was named the third best new course in the country by Golf Digest. Mossy Oak is located across the street from Old Waverly. With some shared ownership, both courses partner to increase golf excursions to the eastern side of the state.

Both courses feature on-site golf cottages for a unique stay and-play package. The site also features a state-of-the-art practice facility for the Mississippi State University golf teams.

Mississippi Central

Approximately 90 miles northeast of the state capital of Jackson, Dancing Rabbit Golf Club is built on the ancestral lands of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Located in the heart of the state’s pines region, the club features two courses with challenging terrain, the Oaks and the Azaleas. Designed by Fazio and Pate, these 36 holes—set among ancient pines and hardwoods—are situated adjacent to the Pearl River Casino Resort. Dancing Rabbit is a public course that offers several golf-package options for individuals or small groups.

The river city of Natchez has two courses, the semi-private Beau Pre Country Club and the public Duncan Park. Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, Beau Pre features a 90-foot clay bluff and rolling terrain, while Duncan Park is located closer to the historic downtown and is a more traditional layout. Golfers can choose to stay at bed and breakfasts in stately antebellum homes or at the Magnolia Bluffs Casino and Hotel on the Mississippi River.

Rolling terrain, undulating greens and beautiful scenery are found at the recently renovated Quail Hollow, located in Percy Quin State Park, an hour south of Jackson in McComb. Well-known architect Arthur Hills designed quail Hollow. Golf villas with modern amenities are conveniently located at the state park to create stay-and-play packages.

If you are looking for the best Midwestern golf destinations, then one of these options on the list will suffice.