Johnny Morris, Tiger Woods team up for new Payne's Valley Golf Course

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RIDGEDALE, Mo. -- Golfer Tiger Woods and Bass Pro's Johnny Morris are teaming up to honor a golfing legend from Springfield and add more golf to the Branson area.

The two men announced the planned construction of a new golf course to be named Payne's Valley after Payne Stewart, the late professional golfer from Springfield. The course will be next to Buffalo Ridge Golf Course south of Hollister off U.S. 65. It is on the former site of John Daly's Murder Rock Golf Course. They will also build a new Par 3 course near Big Cedar Lodge.

"If this land was not really special, I don't think this man would be here," said Morris on Woods' involvement. "We are proud you and your team selected us."

The developers plan to open Payne's Valley Golf Course in 2019.

Woods' new golf course design company just finished a course in Houston called Bluejack National. Morris said he was impressed at what Woods designed there. The Bass Pro founder knows the Tiger Woods brand will give this course worldwide attention.

"Tiger Woods, he's known outside Greene County," said Morris jokingly. "It's going to help shine a spotlight."

This larger course will be a public course with 19 holes. Yes, it will have a bonus hole, ending near a waterfall. Woods says the course is exactly what he wanted. As for the Par 3 course, Woods says it will be one like the ones that shaped his game as a child.

"I grew up on a Par 3 course in Long Beach, California," said Woods. "It was lit at night, just like most of the people were. My favorite golf in the world is played on the ground, which is links courses. Everyone knows I'm dedicated to the things I care about and this is one."

The course will use the beauty of the land, mixed with a challenging links experience. Morris did make one deal with Woods.

"I had to promise him I would stay out of the way," said Morris. "I love this land so much. I know he will treat it right."

Woods says he's developing the product for golfers, not for a future PGA Tour stop. However, he would welcome that too.

"Maybe this golf course may hold a PGA Tour golf event down the road, but that is not our goal right now," said Woods. "Our goal is to try to create an environment people can enjoy. I want people to, once they play Payne's Valley, to be able to come back and say, 'I want to play it again.' That to me determines success."

Morris said the golf course itself may give them a chance at bigger things.

"it's going to be the quality when it's all said and done that might give us the opportunity to host something really grand here," said Morris. He then asked Woods, "You wouldn't be opposed to that." Woods answered, "I was never opposed to that."

The course will bear Payne Stewart's name. The Springfield native died in a plane crash in 1999, shortly after the USA defeated Europe in the Ryder Cup. Woods teamed with Stewart twice on Ryder Cup teams in 1997 and 1999. Woods' says it's an honor for him and Morris to remember Stewart through golf.

"To have an opportunity to represent Payne and his entire family and what he has meant to the state of Missouri, the Ozarks, it's an honor for me," said Woods. "Thanks for letting me do it."

Stewart's wife, Tracey, says she's touched by the naming of this new course.

"I express my gratitude for what you are doing to honor Payne," said Tracey Stewart. "This area means so much to him. His sisters still live here in Springfield. I know he is looking down from heaven today and he is so proud."

The golf course development has kept Woods busy as he recovers from back surgery. The ex-world No. 1 golfer has spent much of the last two seasons on the sidelines because of a back injury. Woods' gave no indication when he will return to the game. He did look ahead to his 50th birthday, however, and a chance to play in the Champions Tour at Top of the Rock.

"It's around the corner now," said Woods of that Champions Tour spot. "Most of the guys on the Champions Tour are guys I grew up playing with."

The Legends of Golf Champions Tour event begins Thursday at Morris' Top of the Rock Golf Course and Buffalo Ridge Golf Course next to the development.

Morris began a friendship with Woods after he bought a Tracker Boat shortly after his golfing success began. The two share a passion for succeeding and Woods knows the importance of this opportunity.

"For me, I have had opportunities to do things on a global level," said Woods. "I have traveled all over the world and played all over the world. I like spending time around people I want to spend time with. It means to much to me to have that opportunity."