Feb 8, 2023
Cedar Lodge Owner Johnny Morris to Receive esteemed Old Tom Morris Award
Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris and one of the golf industry's more successful golf course owners, will be honored Feb. 9 in Orlando as the 40th recipient of the Old Tom Morris award.
Morris, whose Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Mo., features five acclaimed golf courses as part of a growing master-planned golf and residential resort community, will receive his award as part of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) "Send-Off Celebration" at its annual conference and trade show being held this week in Orlando.
The Old Tom Morris Award is presented to an individual who, through a continuing lifetime commitment to the game of golf, has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris. Old Tom Morris was a four-time British Open winner and the legendary greenkeeper at St. Andrews in Scotland.
“Johnny Morris and Old Tom Morris share the same sense of ingenuity and love for the game of golf,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans 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.”
Morris is a lifelong conservationist who created Big Cedar Lodge as a destination for families and friends to connect in the great outdoors. The resort, located in the Ozark Mountains, touts being environmentally conscious in everything they do.
Morris used golf as an avenue to get people out to enjoy nature. After purchasing the Big Cedar property in 1987, he had Jack Nicklaus design Top of the Rock in 1996, enticing more access to the beautiful area 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.”
Renovation was done on Nicklaus’ nine-hole, par-three creation and it re-opened in 2014. At the same time Buffalo Ridge, another Big Cedar Lodge course eight miles down the hill, was renovated by Tom Fazio.
Morris added Mountain Top, a 13-hole, Gary Player-design, to the Big Cedar Lodge family in 2017. Two years later, the highly acclaimed course design duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw created Ozarks National, a championship layout used by the PGA Tour Champions circut.
Then, Morris added arguably the crown golf course jewel to his portfolio in 2020 when Tiger Woods design group debuted the 19-hole Payne Valley.
“Being able to design Payne’s Valley, my first public golf course, with Johnny was a dream come true for me and my TGR Design team,” Woods said. “Johnny’s passion for the Ozarks and connecting people with the outdoors is infectious. It was an honor to be part of helping Johnny make Big Cedar Lodge one of the next great golf destinations.”
Other notable golf experiences at the 4,600-acre Cedar Lodge property: Arnie’s Barn, a 150-year-old barn relocated from the late Arnold Palmer’s backyard in Latrobe, Pa., and Mountain Top, a putting course designed by famed golfer Tom Watson.