The next big thing in Branson arrives this summer. It’s not a new show or shopping complex but a major professional golf tournament sponsored by Bass Pro Shops of Springfield.
Bass Pro's bashful bait and tackle billionaire Johnny Morris definitely landed a lunker. He'll host the Professional Golf Association’s Legends of Golf Championship Tournament, part of the Champions Tour (formerly known as the Senior Tour). The two-man team competition covers 54 holes. It will be played June 2-8 this year on Big Cedar Lodge's par-3 Top of the Rock course and the 18-hole Buffalo Ridge Course (formerly known as Branson Creek Golf Club),
The prestigious event will feature iconic players. The Legends of Golf tourney goes back to 1978. After 11 years in genteel Savannah, Ga., it moves to the Ozarks.
Bass Pro's founder Johnny Morris lured in the PGA and kicked things off at a news conference on Tuesday with a fishing line from golf legend Sam Sneed: “I play golf so I can afford to keep fishing the way I want to.”
Morris' close friend, pro golfer Jack Nicklaus, sent a message about the tournament's course that he designed in 1996.
“I’m anxious to see it and see if it still has nine holes and if it’s going in the right direction,” Nicklaus said in the video.
Top of the Rock Golf Course south of Hollister near Big Cedar Lodge is under re-re-reconstruction and will be home to the tournament for the next five years. The prize money totals almost $3 million, which is a small price for the TV exposure that Bass Pro will enjoy around the world.
“This will be broadcast to 200 countries and watched in 145 million households,” Morris said.
While the players play, Bass Pro will bring in its own cavalcade of fishing and hunting stars to meet and greet outdoor sportsmen during the weeklong event, hoping to win more than a few converts.
PGA officials at the announcement say prices for passes and tickets to the tournament will be announced later. The College of the Ozarks is the tournament's designated charity.