PGA veteran and former Texas star Mark Brooks launches 803 Golf experience at UT Golf Club
To see Mark Brooks work the room at the University of Texas Golf Club is to see someone who has been comfortable grinding through one of the longest careers in the history of professional golf.
On a recent balmy night, Brooks sauntered over to legendary Texas men’s golf coach John Fields to discuss a recent recruit, then swapped anecdotes with PGA Tour star and former Longhorn great Dylan Frittelli. He walked through the clubhouse, stopping to point out a picture of himself with Brandel Chamblee as the two were hoisting a college trophy. He breezed through the elaborate training facility on site with comments for anyone who’d listen.
He is, quite frankly, a fountain of knowledge with the energy to match.
So it might come as no surprise that while some who retire from the PGA Tour — on which Brooks made a record 803 starts — prefer to fade quietly into seclusion, making token appearances to keep their persona intact, Brooks has done the polar opposite. The seven-time PGA Tour champ and 1996 PGA Championship winner is looking to shake as many hands and help as many swings as possible.
He recently launched 803 Golf, which gives groups the opportunity to soak in his vast golf insight through a tailored experience while playing a truly memorable track.
The idea is simple — rather than forking over thousands of dollars to play 18 holes in a PGA Tour pro-am where the pro likely isn’t paying attention, Brooks suggests getting a small group together for a catered experience that includes overnight stays at the spacious UT Golf Club casitas, top-flight dining and facilities, as well as personalized instruction.
“The beauty of this is we can do whatever someone wants,” Brooks said. “Want to play 18 holes, then come down and have a campfire with some entertainment like Ray Benson? We can make that happen. Want to focus on all golf? We can talk and use everything on site at the club and analyze. It’s really whatever someone wants it to be. It can be a couple buddies getting together or a corporate outing.”
Brooks hasn't gone this alone. Aside from partnering with the club, he’s called on his longtime friend and business partner Burt Baine, with whom he previously managed a number of courses. Baine, a native Texan, is currently the GM at Southwind in Memphis — the former site of a WGC event and now the first FedEx Cup playoff course. Baine is planning on jumping aboard 803 Golf full-time by the end of the year. And Brooks is also leaning on his daughter, Hallie Brooks-Johnson, for help with the customer experience.
But at the end of the day, the key component to 803 is Brooks — as affable, approachable and hard-working a star as you’ll ever meet. He’s willing to impart instruction tips, discuss the current state of the Tour, or rehash his victory at the Valhalla, where he beat Kenny Perry in a playoff for his lone major.
“It's a great alternative if you price it out,” he said. “You say, OK, I can have a 50-person cocktail party. It's gonna cost us almost as much as it would to have 12 people out here for two-and-a-half days. It's a better buy, it's a better way.
“My goal is, when they finish, I want people to say two things — you know, that was the best X amount of dollars I spent for that type of experience in my life. And when can I sign up again?”
Steve Stricker shines in Houston
Steve Stricker, in his first competitive tournament in almost six months after being struck with an illness that remains a mystery, was trying to write a storybook ending last week at The Woodlands outside Houston.
Stricker opened with a 67 to tie for the 2022 Insperity Invitational lead after 18 holes. He then backed that up with a 65 on Saturday to remain tied atop the leaderboard. He was tied for the lead halfway through Sunday’s round but couldn’t maintain the pace.
There was simply no stopping Steven Alker, who birdied the second hole but otherwise had all pars on his front nine. After a two-hour, 10-minute weather delay because of lightning, Alker came back charged up. He posted three straight birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 13 and then eagled the 15th for the second day in a row.
He tacked on another birdie at No. 16 and that put him four ahead with three to go. He cruised home from there to shoot a final-round 66 to finish 18 under to earn his third PGA Tour Champions victory.
Stricker, a 12-time PGA Tour winner and seven-time PGA Tour Champions winner, also shot a 70 to finish at 14 under.
“It was a good week. Kind of learned where I’m at, which was good,” said Stricker. “I felt like my game got a little bit better every day, which was good.
“I guess [Saturday] was probably the best day that I played, but still did a lot of good things today again. Started to feel a little more comfortable. All those things were good. I’m tired, though. Yeah, we’ll see if I play next week or not, I’m not sure.”
Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg takes Big 12 title
The Big 12 is arguably the best conference in the nation for men’s college golf and Ludvig Aberg emerged as its champion. The Texas Tech junior earned the Golfweek national player of the week after claiming medalist honors at the Big 12 Championship following a bogey-free 3-under 69 in the final round at Whispering Pines Golf Club to win the individual title at 8 under by two shots.
“I felt great throughout the day and hit the ball well to give myself stress-free opportunities,” Aberg said. “It’s a really tough course, but I was really comfortable out there. The Big 12 is the best in the nation and to win it is really cool and a nice accomplishment.”
Texas’ Cole Hammer tied for third on the individual and the Longhorns took third in the team title with rival Oklahoma leading the way.
Tim Schmitt is the managing editor for Golfweek, golf coordinator for the USA Today Network and lives in Round Rock. Golfweek’s Todd Kelly also contributed to this report.