Review and Rating of Osage National Golf Club's Links Nine Hole Course in Lake Ozark, MO
Osage National Golf Club is home to three excellent nine-hole courses and is currently managed by GreatLIFE, which owns several other golf courses in the US. The original 18 holes, the River and the Mountain courses, opened in 1992 and were designed by Arnold Palmer and they are Missouri's only Arnold Palmer Signature designed golf courses. A third nine, the Links, was added a few years later. The courses, like their names imply, play along the towering bluffs of the Osage River, in the river valley with a layout that has a links feel to it, and up into the forest and mountains with dramatic elevation changes.
Each nine is very different from the other nine and each one has its own unique characteristics and personality:
The Mountain nine has tighter tree-lined fairways, jaw-dropping elevation changes, and is the most scenic of the three nines – – here is a link to our review and rating of the Mountain Nine Holes
- The Links course is flatter, more open, and the easiest of the three courses and has some very unique and interesting holes
- We didn’t have time to play the River Nine, but we understand that it’s long (2126 to 3561 yards), has water on 9 holes, 18 bunkers to contend with, and some challenging green complexes
Common to all three courses are superb conditions from tee to cup, some fun and very interesting holes, reasonable rates, very good service, a driving range and putting green, a well-stocked pro shop, and other amenities like a swimming pool, a 20,0000-square foot clubhouse with a full-service restaurant and bar, and upscale 2-and 3-bedroom condos for stay and play packages.
Each nine also has lots of mounding, water on several holes, plenty of bunkers, and some challenging green complexes. All three nines have 6 sets of tee boxes with yardages ranging from 1923 to 3606 yards, which means the course is suitable for all levels of play – easy from the forward tees and very challenging from the tips. Osage National was the site of the Skins Game between golf legends Arnold Palmer, Payne Stewart, Lee Trevino, and Tom Watson and Osage National is rated "Four Stars" by GolfDigest Magazine and typically referred to as "the "Must Play Course at the Lake."
The Links Nine has a reputation of being the easiest of the nines, but it’s no walk in the park and plays much harder than it looks. There is water that can come into play on six holes, lots of mounding, and 19 bunkers to avoid. When we arrived at the tee box for the first hole, we were shocked and I thought we were on the Mountain course because the tee box and the fairway was uphill all the way. In fact, the second shot required a 2 club up to hit the green.
Unique to the Links Nine is that on several holes the fairway ends with the rough several yards before the collar of the green. For example, #3 is a 370-yard par 4 with a left and right side bunker that pinches the fairway at 100 yards out. The fairway cuts right but stops 25 to 30 yards short of the green which prevents a bump and run, makes for a challenging chip shot out of the rough if you miss the green, and puts a premium on the approach shot.
Another hole that we thought was also unique to the Links Nine is the fun 455-yard par 4 with an elevated tee box, a creek to cross just in front of the tee box, a bunker in the landing zone, a rough that cuts into and narrows the fairway in three different places, plus two bunkers and a hill that guards the two-tiered large green.
Hole 9 is a 512-yard par 5 that requires some accuracy to score well – the rough splits the fairway and gives you a choice on which side of a big tree at 125 yards out you want to try hit for our approach shot. The green which is set off to the right side of the fairway and guarded by a bunker on the left side and a lake, that starts at 120 out and covers three sides of the green.
The bent grass greens on the Links Nine were near perfect – soft, smooth, and ran true and at a manageable speed of around 8 to 9. The greens are a variety of shapes and range in size from 12 feet wide to 40 feet deep. All of the greens have some combination of slope, tiers, mounds, or ridges.
The zoysia fairways at Osage National were also in excellent condition and cut low which means you’ll get some extra roll. They range from wide open to a little tight and all have a wide playable rough and mounds to contend with. Six holes have water and there are 19 bunkers you need to avoid. The sand in the bunkers was a little heavy and gritty and a tad thin. The bunker lips are manageable (3 to 8 inches tall) but you won’t roll in and back out.
You should consider taking advantage of Osage National's stay and play package with includes lodging in upscale two or three bedroom condos, several of which overlook the course. You'll want to play all three nines and most likely play them twice!
The above slope and rating are based on playing the Links and Mountains Nines.
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Service is very good, the pro shop has all of the gear needed to look good and play well. The bar and restaurant are excellent and the practice facilities are more than adequate.