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      It's Tee Time

      There are a lot of really good golf courses at the Lake of the Ozarks.

      To be really good, you have to have a lot of really good holes.

      Scenic, beautiful, manicured or challenging. Or all of the above.


      Take No. 6 at The Ridge at The Lodge of Four Seasons. Take it and have fun with it.

      Of the 234 holes on the Lakes of the Ozarks Golf Trail, we have a winner for most challenging.

      Simply brutal. Fair, but brutal.

      "We call it the hardest par 5 in Missouri," Director of Golf Matt Tausig said. "Even if you're playing from the white tees, you have to carry it 200 yards just to get to the fairway, over brush and a creek.

      "If you are lucky enough to get it over that, you're still contending with the narrowest fairway on the golf course. It's probably 20 yards across, at most, and you're still left with more than 300 yards to the green."

      It plays 555 yards from the back tees. Trees to the left, a hazard to the right, a hazard in front of the green --- and once you get there, you'll be greeted by the largest, most difficult green on the course.

      Good luck.

      And just for fun, it runs parallel to the heavily-traveled Horseshoe Bend Parkway, so a lot of people can watch --- and feel --- your pain.

      "We tell most people to play it as a par 6," Tausig said. "You're happy to walk out of there with a 6, that's for sure.

      "For the average golfer, you just poke and hope."

      Poke and hope ... we've all been there.

      The 560-yard, par 5 10th is no bargain, either. And the course features some solid par 3's, including the picturesque, 160-yard eighth hole, which plays over one of the countless coves at the Lake.

      "It's a good hole with a great view," Tausig said.

      Of his favorite par 4's, Tausig mentioned one, nine, 14 and 16 --- especially the 329-yard 14th.

      "That's probably my favorite hole on the golf course," said Tausig, who's in his seventh year with The Lodge. "If you get it in play, it's relatively wide open, and you're teeing off from an elevated tee box, then you go back up to an elevated green."

      If you've never played The Ridge, you should make it a point. There are four sets of tees, ranging from 4,617 yards to 6,447.

      "For the average Midwesterner, I tell them they're in for a hike," Tausig said. "First of all, you have a tee shot to a fairway that's 75 feet below you on the first hole. The elevation changes on the course ... up and down and up and down.

      "It's all nature. We have a bunch of rock out-croppings, so many trees ... there are only houses on about four holes, so you get out there and it's just you and the golf course."

      On a golf side note, Lucy Li qualified for the U.S. Women's Open, winning her sectional qualifier with a final-round 68 on Monday.


      "She qualified at a course (Half Moon Golf Links, about 20 miles from San Francisco) that's actually from my stomping grounds," Tausig said. "Holy Cow, I don't care what age she is, that's unbelievable."

      Lucy Li is 11. She's in sixth grade.


      I'm sorry ... WOW!

      "It's almost not fair," Tausig said. "I saw that news and it blew my mind. It's incomprehensible to me."

      I'd like to see her play No. 6 at The Ridge.