RIDGEDALE, Mo. — With only a few days off in the month of August, eight Kansas City Royals players took the trip to Branson to visit Big Cedar Lodge last Thursday.While finding a golf course isn’t an uncommon thing for the players to do on their off day, according to Royals All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield, the visit to Big Cedar was the first for many.“Whit was the planner, and he asked if I wanted to come out and play this incredible course. I couldn’t turn it down,” Royals pitcher Brady Singer said. “We get one off day every few weeks, and this is a heck of a way to spend it.”The players played Mountain Top before having lunch at the Mountain Top Grill and then played Payne’s Valley in the afternoon. Merrifield said he’d played golf at Big Cedar before then, but he hadn’t played the complete Payne’s Valley because construction wasn’t complete.
Merrifield and Singer were joined by Andrew Benintendi, Brad Keller, Cam Gallagher, Ryan O’Hearn, Scott Barlow and trainer Kyle Turner for the trip.“You are with these guys so much throughout the year, more than your own family,” Benintendi said. “Days like this you get to know the guys on a more personal level than just at the yard.”Prior to the trip, the Royals went 1-2 in their series against the New York Yankees. They then lost three straight to the St. Louis Cardinals to put their record at 49-67. The Royals started a series with the Houston Astros on Monday.“We still like our team,” Merrifield said. “Even though we haven’t had the year we were looking for, we still like what we have and like what we have moving forward. We are just trying to get better and learn how to win ball games.”