What you might want to know about Daniel O’Donnell’s 2015-2016 sabbatical

Daniel O'Donnell.

Daniel O’Donnell.

On February 20, 2014, internationally acclaimed singer and perennial Branson favorite Daniel O’Donnell, announced, on his website, that he has “decided to take an extended break from touring after the Gertrude Byrne Caribbean cruise finishes next February 2015.” O’Donnell went on to say, “I can’t really say how long the break will be, but there will be no shows until at least the middle of 2016 and closed the announcement saying “I want to stress that ‘This is not retirement,’ it’s just a sabbatical.”

In his announcement, he thanks everyone for their support as his wife Majella has battled cancer since last July and say’s that he is “delighted she’s doing so well” and ” that her treatment and surgery has been successful.” At the same time he points out that through it all they have had a lot of time to reflect and take stock of things. O’Donnell said, “It makes us realize that life is short. For me this was a very big decision, but there are a number of things that Majella and I want to do and even if we live to be 90 (which I hope we do) I don’t want to have to say “I wish we took the time to do such and such……”

“Although Branson audiences will surely miss Daniel O’Donnell’s performances during his sabbatical, we rejoice in the fact that Majella is doing so well and that they are able to take the time to do the things they want to do together,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “We, and we are sure, his fans look forward to seeing the final performances of the Daniel O’Donnell show in Branson November 1 through November 22, prior to the start of his sabbatical, and the opportunity to wish him and Majella ‘Godspeed.'”

For information, tickets and the best seats available for Daniel O’Donnell’s November Branson performances please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Rankin Brothers illustrate annual revitalization of Branson shows

 

Matt, Left and Mark Rankin discussing number with Band Director Cody Titus.

Three questions that come up a lot, particularly at this time of the year are “How do Branson shows keep their material fresh and exciting from year to year?” “How much of their material changes from year to year?” “Will I see the same show this year that I saw last year?” Based on my personal experience over the last 28 years, in the majority of cases, the short answers to those questions, in order are, “Hard work and effort,” “lots” and “No.”

Over the years it has been my privilege to talk about this subject with a number of different long time Branson shows including Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Clay Cooper’ Country Express, Shoji Tabuchi, Duttons, Haygoods and many more. Without exception, each spends a large part of the “off season” developing routines, numbers, costuming, special effects, lighting and other things that they believe will make their shows relevant, fresh, exciting and new while retaining those elements that their audiences like the most and look forward to them performing.

I caught up with the Rankin Brothers, Mark and Matt, the stars of one of Branson’s most entertaining shows and their dad, Larry, who is also their manager, as they were rehearsing for their 2014 show opening March 5 in the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre. These early season rehearsals are a far cry from the full scale production Branson visitors see in the actual show. No sets, special effects or costuming just the grinding work of slowly working out and putting together each element of the show.

The Rankin rehearsal was no exception. Mark and Matt were on a bare stage with their band informally working through some of the numbers that will be in the show. It’s a very informal, but purposeful process with a lot of repetitiveness to get it just the way they want it. As I watched Matt going through the dance steps and singing for just one part of one piece, time after time while interfacing with Mark and the band to make adjustments, I could not help, but have a renewed appreciation for the dedication that the Rankins, as well as the majority of other Branson performers, have for their craft and giving their audiences the very best experience they can.

As Mark took a quick break I asked him how much of the show would be changed this year. He replied, “About 70-80 percent. Among lots of others, we are adding 30 new songs including ‘I Get Around’ by the Beach Boys; a new Frankie Valli segment including ‘Let’s Hang On’ and ‘Ragdoll;’ a Shania Twain segment; as well as bringing back the ‘American Trilogy’ and ‘How Great Thou Art.’ In the Elvis segment.”

After Mark went back on stage to continue the rehearsal, Larry Rankin pointed out that the nature of their show and the hits associated music of the 50’s through the 90’s gives them a lot of flexibility to continually add new material to the show. He said, “Although we have a lot of new material in the show this year we have been very careful to keep those numbers and segments that our audiences have come to love and look forward to such as ‘The Anchor Holds.’ Our feeling is that if it is memorable enough to be a favorite of those who have seen the show before it’s a great number to share with new guests coming to the show.

Having seen the Rankin Brothers show a number of times I can truly say it is a wonderful feel good show presented by one of the most talented casts in Branson who take their audiences on “a wonderful musical journey through the classic music hits and super stars of the 50s through the 90s bringing back memories of this this timeless music performed as only they can do it.” The Rankin Brothers start their 2014 Branson shows on March 5.

For additional information on the Rankin Brothers show, or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550.

What you should know about the opening of Branson’s 2014 Show Season

 

The premier of Sight and Sounds spectacular production of "Jonah" is a highlight of Branson's 2014 show season.

Just as the Ozark hills will soon burst forth with the beauty and freshness of a new spring so too do the stages of many of Branson’s shows explode with the excitement and freshness of a new season as Branson’s live shows begin to open and present their new shows for 2014. Still others such as Sight and Sound’s biblical spectacular Jonah, opening on March 22; Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety Show on March 11 and Billy Dean Live!, staring country music star Billy Dean on March 19 will be premiering new Branson shows.

Led into the 2014 season by the show that started it all, The Baldknobbers Country Jamboree and the shows at Grand Country, Grand Jubilee the Comedy Jamboree, and Amazing Pets, many of Branson’s shows have already begun their 2014 season. Mike Patrick, General Manager & Producer of Grand Country’s shows and the MC of the Grand Jubilee said that they begin rehearsing for their new shows in November, while doing their Christmas show, to be ready for a January opening of their 2014 shows.

In addition, a wide selection of some of Branson’s most popular shows opened their 2014 Branson Season during the first two months of the year. These include shows such as Acrobats of China, Clay Coopers Country Express in the theatre’s newly remodeled auditorium; Dancing Queen ABBA’s Greatest Hits; Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede; The Haygoods, who have moved to the Clay Cooper Theatre for the 2014 season; it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre; Legends in Concert; New Jersey Nights; Pierce Arrow and others.

As the season moves into March, just in time for Spring Break, many of Branson’s other shows will also open for their 2014 season. These include some of Branson’s favorite shows such as SIX, one of the hottest shows in Branson, on March 1; Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies; March 1, Rankin Brothers, March 5 at Yakov’s Theatre; the first show on the “Branson Strip” Presleys’ Country Jubilee, March 7; Mickey Gilley; March 30, Adventures of Marco Polo, April 20; Shoji Tabuchi, April 22 and many others as the 2014 Branson season gets into full swing.

Although it’s been mentioned previously, the premier of Jonah is worth mentioning again because of the grandeur and spectacle of its presentation on Sight and Sounds 300 foot surround stage. Perhaps the words of Dan Deal, the shows Director and Associate Producer sum it up best when he said that Jonah, “Is probably the most high energy vibrant and pretty show that we have ever done. It is a nonstop energy packed powerful story that takes off and keeps running just like Jonah himself does the whole way through. You will be surrounded by the show and engulfed by the underwater experience. From start to finish the show is jammed packed. It is fun, it’s funny, it’s endearing, it’s powerful and its life changing.”

Of course, with nearly 100 live entertainment shows, only a small sample of Branson shows are mentioned in this article and even then only briefly. For complete information on Branson shows, including schedules, descriptions, pictures, prices and, in most cases, videos, please see the Branson Tourism Center Show Schedule which can be sorted by the dates you will be in Branson with a couple of “mouse clicks.” For information or tickets on any Branson show or attaction or for Branson lodging please feel free to call Branson Tourism Center toll free at 1-800-785-1550.

Three things to consider for a Relaxing Branson Vacation

The scenic relaxing setting of the Welk Resort.

One of the things that I look forward to on vacation is simply relaxing. Oh sure, I enjoy seeing and doing many of the things there are to do at vacation destinations like Branson, but I don’t want my vacation to be driven by the feeling that I have to constantly be doing something or going somewhere. That might not be too unusual because the information conveyed to Branson Tourism Center personnel attending a marketing conference last week pointed out that more and more people are emphasizing “relaxation” as an important element of their vacation.

The good news is that, although it has almost 100 live entrainment shows; dozens of attractions as well as Silver Dollar City, an award winning 1880s styled theme park; “White Water,” southwest Missouri’s largest water park and enough shopping and other activities to keep most people going constantly while on vacation, Branson also provides plenty of opportunity for relaxation. Here are three suggestions for having a relaxing vacation in Branson:

1. Plan to Relax – I have found that the most important part of enjoying a vacation is also the most important part of relaxing while on vacation and that is to plan. Just like you are going to plan where to stay and a large part of what you will be doing, plan time to relax and what you are going to do to relax in advance. So often our advance vacation planning is filled with planning things to do, but does not involve time to relax. I love to read while on vacation, so I work in time for that while planning the “things” we are going to do and see.

2. Stay at a Relaxing Hotel or Resort – So often lodging is just that, a place to stay in between doing things and going places. How much more relaxing would it be to stay at a hotel or resort that offers seclusion and serenity from the hustle and bustle along with an environment and amenities you find relaxing yet, is only minutes away from all that Branson has to offer. It might be a full service resort such as the Welk Resort or Still Waters, a golf course condo at Thousand Hills, a lake view condo like the Tree House Condominiums, or anyone of dozens of other Branson lodging establishments, but the important thing is that it provides a relaxing atmosphere and environment for you and your family.

Main Street Lake Cruises' Lake Queen coming through the early morning mist on Lake Taneycomo.

3. Chose some relaxing things to do – In a sense, the majority of vacation activities, whether in Branson or elsewhere, could be considered “relaxing” as compared to our normal non-vacation activities and routine, but some things are more relaxing than others. In terms of relaxing it’s hard to imagine anything more relaxing than a sightseeing cruise on Lake Taneycomo aboard Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen; a walk along the nature trail at the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery; a few hours in the sand and water at Table Rock Lake’s Moonshine Beach; a couple of hours enjoying a relaxing, exciting and informative “voyage” aboard Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction, a leisurely walk down the Branson Landing Boardwalk or anyone of the many other activities available in Branson, many of which do not cost a dime.

The Branson Tourism Center (BTC), through the use of their free unique personal concierge type service, has helped tens of thousands of families plan for and have a relaxing and wonderful Branson vacation. BTC can be reached by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their website, http://www.bransontourismcenter.com/

3 Sure Signs of Spring in Branson

 

The Presley Family is ready for the 2014 Branson season.

After this winter we are all ready for spring. Here in Branson our Ozark Spring, for as long as I can remember, has been signaled by three things that generally happen before the official first day of spring. They happen pretty close together and two out of the three are not weather related, but it is generally considered spring in Branson when these three things have happened:

1. Presleys’ Country Music Jubilee has its first performance of the year – This pioneering Branson paradigm show has been a harbinger of spring in the Ozarks for over 45 years ever since the Presley family built the very first theatre on what is now the “Branson Strip.” Presleys’ is a wonderful blend of “patented comedy” and music that has been entertaining Branson audiences every season since 1967 with new comedy, music and costuming that brings the same excitement and freshness to the Branson show scene as Mother Nature brings to our beautiful Ozark Mountains each spring. Their first performance for the 2014 season is on March 7.

2. Silver Dollar City’s Opening – The opening of Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction, the award winning 1880s styled theme park, Silver Dollar City each year is not only a sure sign that it’s Spring has come to the Ozarks, but that Branson’s tourist season is getting ready to blossom. In addition to its six world class festivals, starting with World-Fest, Apr.6 through May 5, the park has a wide selection of rides the whole family can enjoy such as Powder Keg, Fire in the Hole, The Giant Swing, Wildfire, and Outlaw Run as well as the “Grand Exposition” with family friendly rides like the Magnificent Wave Carousel, Mighty Galleon, Electro Spin Royal Tea Party, Wings of Wonder, The Ladybugs and Happy Frogs. As great and exciting as the rides and festivals are, they are just part of the Silver Dollar City experience. There are shows and activities, many festival specific, throughout the whole park and dozens of practicing craftsmen from wood carvers to candle makers and glass blowers demonstrating their craft. Silver Dollar City starts its 2014 season on March 14.

3. Budding of the Redbuds – As I have fished Lake Taneycomo each year over the past three decades an early and sure sign of spring is the beautiful sight of the Redbuds breaking out along the banks. They were soon followed in concert by a spring palette of color as the Dogwoods and others burst forth, but always it seems the Redbuds lead the way with their simple elegance signaling the freshness and excitement of another Ozark Spring.

“The Spring colors along Lake Taneycomo and over our Ozark Hills is a beautiful once a year show that proclaims in elegant style the uniqueness of spring in the Ozarks and Branson,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, Branson Tourism Center. “Why not plan to experience it yourself while on Spring Break? There is absolutely nothing in the world like spring in Branson,” she added.

Branson artist’s “Hearts of love” paint special Valentine

Tom Crain's "Home of the Brave" with "heart of love" added by author.

I am reminded of British poet Thomas Hood’s beautiful description the meaning of Valentine’s day, “Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!,” every morning, as I turn on the light and see the reproduction of Branson artist Tom Crain’s magnificent painting, “”Home of the Brave” on the wall. In terms of adding reality and meaning to Hood’s loving prose, if the “hearts of love” that Tom puts in his paintings to show his wife Susan, “thou art every day my Valentine” doesn’t do it nothing will.

Tom and Susan Crain have been married since November of 2000, but prior to that, as their budding romance developed, Tom discovered that Susan, because of their symbolic relationship to “the heart of man” loved and collected things with heart shapes in them. As one of the ways of showing Susan how much he loved her, Tom decided to incorporate hearts into his paintings and has been doing so ever since in the vast majority of his works. His first “heart of love” was a heart shaped U.S. Flag on a watch he had.

In June of 2000 he painted his majestic and breathtaking “Home of the Brave,” which is a compilation of his memories of a special fishing trip into the Colorado Rockies with his son, his love and appreciation of the majesty and grandeur of God’s creation, love of country and his love for Susan. It is one of his most popular paintings, toured China and the Orient and is the first of his major paintings incorporating Susan’s “hearts of love.”

The true wonder of the “hearts of love” is the loving and unobtrusive way they are incorporated into his works. In a testament to the artistry and skill of this wonderful artist, although in most cases there is more than one “heart of love” in a painting, Tom’s love for Susan is shared so subtly that one really has to know what they are looking for to find one, let alone the other hearts for his “Susan” that are in the painting.

In the illustration of Tom’s “Home of the Brave,” used with his permission, this writer has loosely outlined the major “heart of love” with a pink heart that is not in the original painting. Notice how subtly the artist has woven the heart into the fabric of the painting starting just to the left of where the waterfall meets the eagles wings and follows ridge lines and shadings to complete its form. There is even a heart within the heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

It Takes More Than Magic to Produce a New Unbelievable Show

 

The excitement and action of the show as reflected in its poster.

“No pun intended, but the talent and variety in this show is simply ‘unbelievable,'” said internationally famous illusionist Dave Hamner recently during a break from the exhausting grind of producing one of Branson’s newest shows, the Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show, which will premiere at the “Hamner Variety Theatre,” in Branson, Missouri on March 11, 2014. “This show presents Branson audiences with a unique blend of acts, color and excitement they have never seen in Branson before where ‘birds appear, people fly, and voices soar’ in a truly magical combination of entertainment from beginning to end,” he added.

Denise Hamner, the other half of the incredible magical duo known as “The Hamners,” could scarce contain her excitement when talking about the various elements and acts in the show and how they will all flow together providing audiences of all ages with an equally entertaining experience from the opening to the final curtain. She said, “Our goal is to have the audience sitting on the edge of their seats anticipating what is coming next as the show seamlessly transitions from one exciting act to another and, when it’s all over, wanting to come back because they want to make sure they haven’t missed anything.

The interview was taking place while the work in getting the show produced continued around us. Noted Branson dancer, AJ Heard, the shows choreographer and one of the dancers in the show said, “I’m super excited about all the talent and variety that will be blended together in this amazing new multidimensional experience.” What was really neat was that when she asked her young daughter, Cydney, who was there keeping an eye on mom, based on what she knew about the show so far, what she thought about it; she immediately responded, “Awesome!”

The featured acts in the show include world renowned illusionists Dave & Denise Hamner who will perform a variety of illusions including “their one of a kind act” in which they produce several beautiful Macaws and Cockatoos that appear amid flying cards, flaming swords, falling coins and jewels along with an incredible flight out over the audience and other original illusions such as “Stargate,” “The Lightning Levitation,” “Vertigo: The Fall of Death” and an absolutely magical “Veterans Finale.”

As exciting and unbelievable as the Hamner’s magic is on hits own, the show will become”unbelievably” magical when that magic is seamlessly blended in and highlighted with the other amazing acts in the show. This includes impressionist Jeff Brandt, considered one of the top singing impressionists in the country; Vadim & Mariya Serykh, a Russian father and daughter adagio team performing hand balancing, acrobatics, and high flying aerial acrobatics; the vocal talents of Tamra Tinoco who has performed all over the world and in 45 different states with artists such as Lee Greenwood, Vince Gill and others as well as producing and staring in Branson’s Magnificent Seven show and the ventriloquism of Brenda Hahne and her cast of characters who have been entertaining hundreds of family audiences across the country and on cruise ships for over 15 years.

In the final weeks of preparing for their premier Denise said that things are hectic and the weather sure isn’t helping, but that they are excited about the new show and eagerly anticipating opening night. Based on what I have seen the Hamners do in the past, what I have heard and seen so far about the show and its acts and, of course, with Cydney’s “Awesome,” I can’t wait to see the Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show.

Clams “button” up a “pearl” of Branson History

“La Riviere Blanche,” as the White River, was called by the early French traders, has been a source of water, transportation, recreation, and livelihoods from the days the first inhabitants set foot in the White River Valley. Cruising on Lake Taneycomo today, with its depth controlled by two dams, it’s hard to picture a White River that, most of the time was so low that the appearance of even a shallow draft steam boat, with about the same draft as Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen‘s four feet, was a rare occurrence or, although relatively infrequently, was flooded its banks with water so high and swift that it destroyed virtually everything in its path. However, that was the White River of Ozark and Branson history until the Power Site Dam formed Lake Taneycomo in 1913 and Table Rock Dam was completed in 1959.

From the trapping done by the early trappers to the electricity generated at various dams since 1913 and the tourism industry supported by lakes like Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Lake Taneycomo today, the White River has played a central part in daily lives and economic opportunities available to those living in the Branson area. One of the lessor known was from “clam digging,” which, from a White River perspective, has an entirely different meaning than “clam digging” does along ocean coast lines.

The White River was home to over two dozen different type of mussels, which are referred to alternately as “clams” in different history books. The early Indian inhabitants of the White River region used the mussels for food, implements and what would today be called “jewelry.” However, even though mussels, like the “oyster” make pearls it was not until 1897, when Dr. J. H. Myers found a “14 grain, fine luster, pinkish colored pearl” that the pearl and related industries got their start along the White River. The news of his discovery spread quickly and there was a virtual “pearl rush” to the mussel bars along the White River in search of pearls.

The value of a pearl then was determined about the same way it is today based on shape, size, color and other characteristics. Although records show that prices as high as $1,100.00 were paid for some pearls, prices above $2.00 per pearl was the exception not the rule with many selling for a dollar or less. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when the prevailing wage in the region at that time was about $.50 cents a day the “pearl hunter” did pretty well.

In 1900, soon after the pearling industry started, it was discovered that there was a market for the thick mussel shells. Button plants, in Kansas, Iowa and elsewhere were making “Pearl Buttons” from the shells, but there was a very high ratio of shells to finished buttons estimated by some to be 40 tons of shells to get one ton of buttons. To overcome this challenge “button blank” plants to be set up at various places along the White River where the raw shells were processed into various sized “button blanks” by “punching” them out of the shell.

These blanks were purchased by shell buyers when they came down the White River by flat boat, twice a year for consolidation and shipment to the button factories where they were processed into the finished button. With the coming of the railroad to Branson in 1906 the button blanks were transported overland to Branson and shipped by rail to button plants including Muscatine, which was, at the time known as “The Pearl Button Capital of the World” and the “Iola Button Factory,” which went out of business during the “great depression.”

When the supply of mussels started to dry up and newer and easier to work with materials came along toward the end of the 1930’s there was no more demand for the shells and the “clam digger” went the way of the railroad “Hacker” before them. One thing remained constant however, “La Riviere Blanche” rolled on and, with the completion of the Table Rock Dam and formation of Table Rock Lake in 1959, helped grow and nurture the tourism industry which is the current economic foundation of Branson today.

Soothe Winter Doldrums by Planning a Perfect Branson Summer Vacation

Silver Dollar City's record setting wooden coaster "Outlaw Run" is just one of the exciting experiences awaiting Branson visitors.

It might seem odd, in the depths of the harsh winter many of us are experiencing to suggest planning a summer vacation in Branson, but what better way to shake the winter doldrums? Naturally, being a resident of Branson for these past 28 years, and having vacationed in Branson for ten years prior to moving here, it is natural to understand why I might be partial to Branson, but the question is why you and your family should spend your summer vacation in Branson?

Simply put, because there is no other place on earth that offers the combination of fun things to do coupled with the spirit Branson offers. The combination of things to do and the hospitality of those providing them stems from an Ozarks heritage and culture that is at the heart of all Branson is. Whether simply relaxing; going through a full day of fun and excitement experiencing Branson’s live shows, attractions, dining and shopping or enjoying one of the many other exciting activities Branson offers, you and your family will be interacting with people dedicated to providing you with a Branson vacation you will never forget.

Of course, it is extremely helpful in that regard that, from its oldest and most popular attraction, the award winning world class 1880s styled Silver Dollar City theme park to its three pristine lakes, around 100 live music and entertainment shows, dozens of attractions and other activities, Branson has more entertainment, excitement and things to do “per block” than any other vacation destination anywhere near its size. As an example, where else could you conveniently start your morning at a world class attraction like the Titanic Museum Attraction; visit a state of the art trout hatchery on your way to basking on a sandy fresh water beach such as Table Rock Lake’s “Moonshine Beach;” enjoy a dinner sightseeing cruise on a 100 foot luxury yacht like Main Street Cruise Lines’ Landing Princess and still be able to take in an evening performance of a Branson Show such as Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Acrobats of China, The Texas Tenors, Haygoods, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, it, The Duttons, SIX, Grand Jubilee or any one of dozens of other live shows.

Seems like a lot and it is, but the point is that everything is so close together and convenient in Branson that your day can be as active or, depending on what you want, as relaxing as you want. The real beauty of it all is that was just one daily itinerary out of hundreds that can be put together to make sure that you and your family have the best vacation ever filled with exactly the things that you want to do. Want to get a better taste of what Branson has to offer? Click here for instant on line access to Branson Tourism Center’s 2014 Branson Vacation Guide.

To make it fun and easy to plan the perfect vacation for your family, the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), who’s mantra is, “We don’t sell discount vacations we sell amazing vacations at a discount,” starts that amazing vacation off with a unique free personal concierge style Branson vacation planning service. One phone call to 800-785-1550 will put you in contact with one of their Branson based Vacation Planners who will show you what Ozark hospitality is as they help you plan a perfect Branson vacation, answer questions, make recommendations on what to see and do, save you time and, in most cases, money.

 

 

Material Connection

Don’t you deserve to play golf in Branson?

Branson Creek's par 3 195 yard 4th Hole.

A recent column in Golfweek entitled Branson, Bass Pro Shops could land Legends of Golf reminds us of just how good the quality of the golfing available in Branson is. Along with reporting that, “if a deal is reached, the 36th rendition of the popular two-man team PGA event [Legends of Golf] could be held in June at the Branson Creek Golf Club. The article also pointed out that Branson Creek is the No. 2 course in Missouri on “Golfweek’s 2013Best Courses You Can Play List.” The No. 1 course on the same list is the Payne Stewart Golf Club, another Branson course, making Branson home to the top two out of only five Missouri courses on the list.

“That’s another one of the things that makes Branson such a great place for people and families to vacation and come to for a good time,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, for the Branson Tourism Center. “It’s not just the great variety of shows, attractions, lakes, shopping, lodging restaurants and other activities, but the quality of what is offered,” she added.

The $32 million Payne Stewart Golf Club is Branson’s newest golf course and is located in Branson Hills. Designed by Chuck Smith, with consultation from PGA golfer Bobby Clampett, it is a tribute course to Payne Stewart with each hole designed to honor his career and memory. The 18 hole course is 7,324 yards from the Gold Tees and has a par of 72.

The Branson Creek Golf Course is located just south of Branson near the Branson Airport in the Branson Creek Development. It is a 7,036 yard par 71 course from its longest tees and tactically, as well as scenically, takes advantage of the surrounding valleys and plateaus of the Ozarks.

In addition to the courses mentioned iabove there are two other courses that are readily available to Branson visitors, the Thousand Hills Golf Course and Pointe Royal Golf Course. These two courses and Payne Stewart Golf Club are all located within the city limits of Branson, within ten minutes of each other and are located within five minutes from the famed Branson Strip. Thousand Hills and Pointe Royale are open year round.

Branson is an exciting golfing destination by itself, but when coupled with the other golf courses in the area, it offers a choice that provides a fun filled and challenging golfing experience for beginners as well as the more advanced players that is unrivaled for a vacation destination of its size. And when you are through golfing there is all the adventure, fun, entertainment and excitement that Branson is known for. That’s a hard combination to beat anytime, but especially on Spring Break during the beauty of an Ozark Spring.