Johnny Morris, founder of Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Mo., and its five golf courses, is the recipient of the 40th Old Tom Morris Award presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The GCSAA will honor Morris on Feb. 9 at the send-off celebration at the 2023 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Orlando, Fla.
“Johnny Morris and Old Tom Morris share the same sense of ingenuity and love for the game of golf,” Rhett Evans, CEO of the GCSAA, said. “His dedication to the environment, respect for superintendents and his contributions to the growth of the game make Johnny a perfect choice for the Old Tom Morris Award.”
After purchasing the Big Cedar property in 1987, Johnny Morris had Jack Nicklaus design Top of the Rock in 1996, which overlooks Table Rock Lake.
“On behalf of the Big Cedar Golf team, I am honored to accept this wonderful award,” Morris said. “We are proud of the reception our nature golf experience has received by golfers from across six continents who have come to play with us. Our golf courses are a wonderful way to bring friends and families closer to nature and to each other.”
Nicklaus’ nine-hole, par-three creation underwent renovations and re-opened in 2014. At the same time, Tom Fazio renovated Buffalo Ridge, another Big Cedar Lodge course eight miles down the hill.
Morris added Mountain Top, a 13-hole, Gary Player design, to the Big Cedar Lodge family in 2017. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s Ozarks National opened in 2019, and Payne Valley, a 19-hole Tiger Woods design, debuted in 2020.
The 4,600-acre property also includes Arnie’s Barn, a 150-year-old barn relocated from Arnold Palmer’s backyard in Latrobe, Pa. There is also a Tom Watson-designed putting course at Mountain Top. Palmer (1983), Watson (1992), Fazio (1996), Crenshaw (1997), Nicklaus (2005) and Player (2020) are all previous Old Tom Morris Award recipients.
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