I first found out about Brough Creek National by a text from a fellow golf-nerd (who I actually have not met in person). He asked if I am involved in anyway. Before I texted him back, I visited the website and called the number listed.
When I called, Zach Brough answered the phone on a Thursday at 8 a.m. with a “Hello?” Thinking I am calling a golf course that is looking at doing a renovation, I am surprised to not hear, “Brough Creek National where can I transfer your call?” Zach invites me to come up on Saturday and take a look around. After the phone call, he sends me a link to the “No Laying Up” page they created, which documents what Brough Creek National encompasses.
I quickly realized this is not a business opportunity, but something much more unique. Brough Creek National is an inclusive golf club that has no real fees or dues and is built by the members for the members. It’s a concept very foreign to American golf, yet so primal to the roots of the game.
Saturday morning comes, and I leave home in Oklahoma City for KC. As my “initiation fee” I have 24 Bud Heavies, 24 range balls and, in my case, a $150 speeding ticket. My directions lead my down an old backroad in a large valley with no outlets. Groves of trees surround the road and create a natural tunnel (perhaps BCN’s Magnolia Lane).
For a slight moment I think to myself how insane I am for meeting total strangers based on the recommendation of someone I met on the internet. If this is the Kansas City Mob’s elaborate plan to “whack” me, they deserve to get me. Eventually, the timber clears, and through my passenger window I see a group of guys with chainsaws, rakes, and shovels standing around large piles of cut down trees. I notice the large red barn that is the inspiration of the BCN logo, and I know I have arrived to the internet famous golf club.
I park my car, instantly being greeted by a pit bull wagging his tail and happy to see a new member. The dog belongs to the easily-recognizable Darren. He is a man-of-the-land with a “Duck Dynasty” beard who lives next door to BCN. He talks with his body and is always grasping a cold Bud Heavy. I shake hands with the BCN founders, and we start by walking the routing. I quickly realize they are a normal group of recent college grads who just want to get away from the monotony of being a young adult.
For movie fans, the best way to describe BCN is a combination of “Sandlot” and “Field of Dreams” but for golf. Ben is the original visionary of BCN – he has a genuine passion for BCN and an impressive knowledge of golf history. As we walk the 6-hole par 3 layout, he describes to me which holes are going to be the “Punchbowl,” “Road Hole,” and “Biarritz” designs. As we finish the walk, we identify a possible 7th hole. I like to pride myself on my routing skills, but Ben and his friends’ routing maximizes the property to the fullest capability.
After returning to the clubhouse (barn) Ben claps his hands, looks at me, and asks “So you here to work?” We end up working for multiple hours clearing green sites, tee sites, and opening-up playing corridors. While we work, I get to know the other founders and learn more about BCN.
As the sun starts to set, we start putting away the tools and go in for a beer before I head back south. My one year anniversary is the next day so I need to get home at a decent hour (my wife thinks I’m absolutely insane). Zach speaks about his idea to paint “Brough Creek National” on the propane tank near the barn – a brilliant idea that seamlessly works with the whole theme of BCN. It will become a widely recognizable sign in golf in the years to come.
Ben starts talking about how last year was the “best year of [his] amateur career, but was the least amount of fun.” What I think Ben is saying is that he sees golf as a game, not a sport and wants that mentality to be the culture at BCN. He goes on to say that perfect playing conditions are not a desirable goal for the club. “I cringe”, says Ben, “When people suggest artificial greens. This is Some Guy’s Backyard, not Some Rich Guy’s Backyard.” It’s an admirable statement, to say the least.
As a Perry Maxwell enthusiast I cannot help but think about the history of how he started Dornick Hills by building four golf holes on his dairy farm in 1914. By 1919, it was one of the best 18-hole courses in the nation at the time. Wild-man Darren has 90+ acres of land that surround BCN, and he has mentioned that the founders can build golf holes on his property. Who knows if BCN will ever grow to a full sized golf course, or even if the founders want to expand, but anything is possible with passion. Brough Creek National has 400+ members, and it is safe to say the number will only grow over time.
Colton is a Design Associate for Tripp Davis and Associates
Founder of the Perry Maxwell Society (perrymaxwell.weebly.com)