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|Holiday Hills Resort and Golf Club is known as the course where many Branson locals like to play. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)|
The golf course suffers from a myriad of problems. The fairways are too close together for one thing, too many parallel playing corridors. Consider wearing a construction helmet here. All too often, you're waiting on the tee for the fairway to clear because of one, two or even three people in front of you playing to another fairway.
The course isn't in particularly good shape. The tee boxes could use some tender loving care - weeding, for example - as could the fairways. The bunkers are desperately seeking a good rake.
It's a short course - none of the four tees measures over 6,000 yards, with the longest being 5,771 with a slope rating of 115. It has a par of 68.
All that being said, the course must have its charms, because it is busy. On the day I played, for example, it was jam packed.
It does have history on its side. It is the oldest golf course in Branson - Charlton Heston used to play here for God's sake.
The interior of the course is very open and susceptible to wind, making the yardages seem a little longer, and the few trees mostly along the perimeter of the holes are lovely.
Also, there are some interesting green complexes with some multi-tiered greens that are challenging to putt; the bentgrass greens themselves, while not in great shape, are in better repair than the rest of the course. Some of the mounding around the greens is imaginative, and the fairway mounding does what it can to keep wayward balls in the proper fairways.
In addition, there are some relatively dramatic elevation changes, not unusual in this part of the Ozarks.
"I come here because I used to play here years ago," said Brady Thompson of Arkansas. "It's sort of a nostalgia thing. There are some better courses around, no doubt."
Holiday Hills was in Branson long before the city got famous. It used to be known as the Golf Ranch Country Club, and many of the music stars can still be seen on the course today.
It was renovated fairly recently, and nine holes were added.
Still, the green fees of $45-$60 seem too high for what you get here. There is no driving range, only a putting green, though there is GPS in the carts. Walking is not permitted. It should be, on a course this short.
Twilight and super twilight rates are available.
The Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing (3 Branson Landing, tel. 417-336 5500) is right next to the Branson Convention Center, in the heart of the historic Branson downtown, and overlooks the Branson Landing and Lake Taneycomo.
It's an impressive facility, with 242 rooms, suites and condos, most with nice views of the lake and the downtown. The one- and two-bedroom condos have fully equipped kitchens.
It also has a beautiful lobby and an excellent restaurant, the Liberty Tavern; try the fresh Maine lobster cakes and pan-seared trout.
The Hilton is only a short drive to the area's golf courses, 49 theaters, Table Rock Lake, Silver Dollar City Celebration City and other Branson attractions. And, of course, its location right next to Branson Landing means a ton of shopping options are just a short walk away, including the Bass Pro Shop, a commercial shrine to bass fishing.
The Hilton has a very nice fitness center, with an indoor and hydrotherapy pool, weight room and dressing rooms for men and women.
The rooms have large business desks with high-speed Internet, both wired and wireless, video check-out and 32-inch, flat-screen televisions. There is a concierge service that can set up sight-seeing tours and get you tickets to shows.
Being next to the convention center, you'd expect business amenities, and the Hilton has a 24-hour business center, with copy machines, fax and Internet access.
It can also provide meeting facilities for up to 4,500 people.
Valet parking is available for $12, and self-parking across the street is $8 a day.
April 29, 2008
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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