July 22, 2017
|Brooks Golf Club - Wizard Of Odds|
By E. NolanTwenty-four of the thirty-eight years of my life I've been to Lake Okoboji (IA) during the summer. This July will be my 25th. My parents host an annual "Family & Friends" reunion at Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camp (on the west side) for whoever can make it. We're there two nights and three days and a group of us play golf every morning. We've played all the area courses over the years, typically on a rotation. That rotation ended five years ago when I took over the golf organization. Five years ago I felt it was clear that one area course (year in and year out) rose above all the others - in quality of service and conditions, and definitely in terms of all-around fun.
The decision was unanimously approved and we haven't deviated since. Not worth arguing with the truth. Brooks National then (Brooks Golf Club now) has 27 holes - three very diverse nines. You can work on a different aspect of your golf game on each nine... and together you can cover it all. Val Brooks (Blue) is the namesake nine. It is the tightest and arguably the toughest - "a narrow hallway of trees with a blue sky ceiling" - a traditional back and forth test of accuracy over length. This nine has been preserved in its original form - the legacy section of Mr. Brooks' design. (This is the nine for your long irons.)
Scots Links (White) feels the most modern - though it merges holes built in 1932 with others built in 2001. This nine is the most driver friendly - with the fastest and wildest greens. It has challenging shots that you'd expect to see on a Nicklaus or Palmer course, with water and marsh scattered throughout to punish you if you stray. Director of Golf, John Bramblett, succinctly describes this nine as "three 3-hole courses."
And then there's the Mounds (Yellow) that is the shortest (appropriately the best nine to work on your short game) and therefore regarded as the easiest. I wouldn't jump that conclusion the first time you play it. There are still ponds and the possibility of plenty of bad bounces with all those dips and hills. There's also the 4th hole that feels 3,000 yards long on its own - especially into the wind.
Based on the brief descriptions I just provided you can hear the contrasting descriptions. You're envisioning forest and links, elevation and lakes, fast and slow, wide and narrow, an exotic blend - a golf smoothie... a cool spring, summer and fall round of golf. If that's the picture in your mind then you're on the right track. And if that's the kind of golf experience you like and look for (Why wouldn't it be?) then this course is the right track for you.
A year ago I described Brooks Golf Club as "A schizophrenic with attention deficit order." I was sitting at my computer trying to capture the feeling you get on the course as you constantly weave in and out of different elements and ecosystems. Brooks doesn't let you get comfortable in any one. It doesn't sit still. You never really know what you're going to get next and that keeps the player's interest level at the highest peak.
It's unusual in this "more is more" era to find a course that so fluidly syncs yesteryear's minimalistic simple designs with holes so blatantly modern and extravagant. But ownership has (fortunately) never been willing to relinquish the historic element of the club's origination. Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, Babe Didrikson Zaharias... they've all played the Brooks (Blue) nine - exactly as it still stands today. Why would you mess with that?
Golf Digest has rated Brooks Golf Club 4.5 stars, and was rated #4 Best Courses You Can Play In Iowa by Golfweek in 2014. The Iowa Open has also been hosted here. That says a great deal about the stellar operational management of Mr. Bramblett and his team. People know what they'll get here. They expect it to always be that way - year after year - and Brooks Golf Club meets those expectations. (That's why we won't go anywhere else.) I asked John what he loves most about his club and he speaks first of the people - of his staff, the locals and the regulars. But then he states that he believes "because of the clubs Brooks makes you use and the game it makes you play it is comprehensively the greatest test of a player's total game in Iowa."
Brooks works closely with the adjacent Arrowwood Resort for fantastic Stay & Play deals. Drop off your bags there, explore Arnolds Park, take a drive around the lake and then live it up at Brooks.
Three nines... three magical formulas... Brooks Golf Club - in the greatest form of compliment - is a genuine Wizard of Odds.
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