Missouri Golf Courses - Recent Reviews
Playing almost 350 courses so far throughout Missouri, I have determined that you typically need a population of at minimum 1,000 to support a golf course. Obviously, the larger the city, the more (and quality of) courses it can support. Viburnum, MO has 625 people but it still has a golf course, Viburnum Golf and Country Club. So, considering the economics, the course should have sand greens and fairways consisting of mowed weeds. So you would think. In actuality, Viburnum Golf and Country Club is actually a nice rural golf course. The zoysia fairways are fairly lush and the ball sits up very well. The greens are small to medium size, and like many rural greens, are very flat with significant slope from back to front. And, they are slow so 3-putts will be kept to a minimum. The course is fairly easy and has no sand traps and minimal water hazards. All in all, VGCC is a respectable course and club located in the heart of Mark Twain National Forest. It is probably not worth a long drive to play but, if you are in the area, it is definitely worth playing.
The pro shop manager, Nell Kennedy, is a lovely lady and as sweet as a homemade Missouri apple pie. She is an extraordinary representative of the course.
Typically, a course’s rating on this site takes many factors into account: the course condition, quality of grasses, layout, course maintenance, grooming, beauty, difficulty, hospitality of staff, the fun quotient and other tangible and non-tangible factors. The rating of Oak Hills Country Club in Dixon, MO is admittedly a bit high (3.5 out of 5) but its quirkiness and fun quotient won me over. As regulars to this site can attest, I love funk and Oak Hills has more than its fair share. For example, the third hole is a par 5 with a large oak tree smack dab in the middle of the fairway about 300 yards from the tee (see picture). While there are about 10 courses in Missouri with trees in the middle of a fairway, I just cannot figure out why a course designer would purposefully use this strategy . . . but I love it. Another quirky example is the 5th hole, a par 4. If you are playing the hole for the first time, you will be confused about where you are supposed to direct your drive since there is not an obvious path from tee box to fairway. There is thick natural grass just a few yards in front of the tee box and a group of medium size trees about 130 yards in the middle of your driving path guarding the entrance to the fairway (see picture).
Oak Hills Country Club is a wonderful rural 9-hole course, servicing a small town (Dixon, MO) with a population of about 1,400. There are only 2 employees who maintain the course. As a result, all of the grasses (tees, fairways, greens and roughs) have some issues but the course more than compensates for these inadequacies with its layout, uniqueness and greens, which are not typical of rural courses. The stereotypical rural course greens are small, postage stamp-size with no undulation besides an extreme slope from the back to the front of the greens. Oak Hills’ greens are small to medium size, in a variety of shapes with some dramatic breaks and undulation. The course is also very reasonably priced, for both members and non-members. The green fee for 18 holes is one of the cheapest in the state. If you going to be driving on I44, midway between Springfield and St. Louis, block off 2 hours to at least play 9 holes on this course, a few miles north of the highway.
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Fourche Valley Golf Club in Potosi, MO has a beautiful layout and is a lot of fun to play. The first 2 holes are seemingly flat and uninspired until you walk up to the first tee and see a medium size, but very wide, walnut tree smack dab in the middle of the fairway, about 250 yards away. There are about 10 courses in the state with large trees in the middle of the fairway. On one hand, I just don’t get it; it goes against the unwritten morals of golf. On the other hand, I LOVE IT. This tree puts a different spin on the hole every time you play it, because very few golfers hit a drive the same distance, trajectory and direction every time. So, you will have to re-strategize every time you play the first hole, deciding if you should go over, under, around, or through it.
After the second hole you make a turn up the hill into Potosi’s Shangri-La of golf, the 3rd through the 7th holes. There should be an alter, with candles, at the base of each of the tee boxes so that you can sacrifice a brand new ProV1 to the golf Gods before hitting your drive. These holes are some of the best in Missouri. The 4th hole, in particular is worthy of a trip to Potosi by itself. It is a 171 yard par three over a deep ravine with a babbling brook running across the base.
As soon as the course figures out their grass issues, particularly the greens which needs some significant TLC, they will have one of the best 9 hole courses in the state.
The really cool thing about Fourche Valley Golf Club is that it is a community passion point. They take pride in this course and, in fact, you will be able to find members on the course throughout the day, every day, not playing but mowing, fixing the sprinkler system, painting the club house, shooting copperheads in one the many streams running throughout the course, etc.
If you get the chance, make the drive to Potosi and play Fourche Valley. While you are there, say hello to the Men’s League President, Steve McFarland, who is a great representative of the club.