AUSTIN, Texas — 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.
PGA Tour veteran and former Texas star Mark Brooks has started a new hospitality venture, 803 Golf, in which he provides an individual experience at the University of Texas Golf Club.
“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?”