Venerable Brookside Par 3 Golf Course turns 60, still drawing new Golfers and regulars | Local News

Milt Crandall was attending to his daily duties as the manager of Roanoke’s Brookside Par 3 Golf Course a few years ago when a young woman from New York State showed up wanting to learn the game.

Crandall gave her some cursory instruction, then they stepped back to watch his newfound pupil make off on the 95-yard first hole.

“She said,‘ Never played golf before. Trying it for the first time, ” Crandall recalled. “She got on the first hole and hit the ball into the hole, first shot ever as a golfer, and she walked off the course. Quit. On top, she quit. ”

The young lady might have given up golf, but Brookside is still here.

On Saturday, the club adjacent to Williamson Road in north Roanoke County will celebrate its 60th anniversary.

The Venerable nine-hole layout, sitting on 12.66 acres intersected by Carvin Creek, debuted on May 1, 1962, and is one of the few remaining on 3 courses in the state and only one within 100 miles.

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Built by Jack Hall on land owned by his brother Bill, Brookside opened for play when Arnold Palmer was king on the PGA Tour and has survived economic ups and downs in the golf industry to remain a somewhat unpolished but valuable gem in the Roanoke Valley.

“Sixty years is incredible for a par 3 to last,” said Crandall, a Maryland native who managed the course from 1998-2018. “It’s a great design. It’s a fun place. ”

The Allure is in the course’s simplicity and availability.

The nine-hole round takes roughly an hour, and the place is open 365 days a year, weather permitting.

With holes ranging from 70 to 130 yards, only a handful of clubs and a putter are necessary to carry over the 850-yard track.

Many times, the putter is not needed.

Anyone answering the telephone in the sports department at The Roanoke Times in the last two decades became familiar with Crandall’s voice.

Weekdays, weekends, holidays … if Crandall was calling, someone at Brookside had just scored a hole-in-one.

How many have there been in 60 years?

“Thousands,” said the 81-year-old Crandall, still a regular golfer who has made 15 aces himself.

The late “Brother” Jack Dillon holds the course record with 48 holes-in-one.

According to Brookside’s website, the course scoring record is shared by Jerry Saunders and George Mercer, who each carded a 7-under-par 20.

Miscellaneous course records include the lowest score in a four-man captain’s choice at 18 set by 2007 Northside High School golf team members Chad Jarrett, Max Barney, Josiah Branham and Cory Woodring.

How about the course record for the most rounds played in one day?

That took place June 23, 2021, when Roanoker Bill Parsley played 28 rounds – that’s 252 holes – over a period of 12 hours.

Parsley, now 64, said his background as a Marathon runner motivated him to go for the course record.

“It was the 20th anniversary of the last Marathon I ran,” Parsley said. “I haven’t been able to run in 20 years, so I figured, ‘What a good way to celebrate the anniversary of that.’ “

Current course manager and former Northside High Golf Coach Jim Wolfe witnessed much of Parsley’s golf marathon, which was basically a series of sprints.

“He walked very fast,” Wolfe said. “The other people playing kind of knew what they were doing and let him play through. He hardly had any set up. I guess that shows we overthink the game sometimes. ”

Parsley, a retired Norfolk & Southern employee and a club member who took up golf in his mid-50s, started playing at 6 am He reeled off 20 rounds, then went home to rest and recharge. He returned in the afternoon and knocked out the other eight rounds.

He averaged 21 minutes per round. His best score for nine holes was 25.

When the record-setting day was over, Parsley celebrated the only way he knew how.

“I went home and sat down in the ice,” they said. “Then the next day I went out and played about eight or nine [rounds] and then about eight or nine the day after. ”

Parsley expects his record to fall. When does it?

“I’m just going to turn around and break it again,” he said.

Brookside’s operating hours are seasonal, running from 9 or 10 am until dark.

Night golf is available upon request as each green is equipped with lights.

The lights have been in place since the course opened, Crandall said.

Tragedy Struck in the early 1980s when a young golfer was electrocuted when he contacted an exposed wire from a light pole with his golf club, Crandall said.

“The wires were frayed and he took his club trying to find his golf ball and hit that wire,” Crandall said. “Once that happened, they put the wires above ground.”

The property has changed ownership twice, and the 19.66 Acres including 7 Acres housing an equipment storage facility were up for sale in 2016 until being taken off the market in 2017.

Crandall’s brother-in-law, Kenny Mooty, is the current course owner.

Crandall stepped down as a course manager in 2018, exactly 20 years to the day after took over the operation following a career in real estate in Maryland.

“I worked 90 hours a week, on average, during the year,” he said. “In the summer, 125 hours.

“How could a man work 125 hours a week? You’ve got to have the Dedication. You’ve got to have the love. This was the most fun a person could do. If I had to do an errand, I couldn’t wait to get back. Brookside does that to you. ”

Brookside boomed in the early days under the management of Archie Goode, who ran the course with his wife, Elsie, until 1987.

Goode was a local legend, a personable gentleman so familiar that the locals simply referred to Brookside as “Archie’s Place.”

Brookside Originally had a driving range on land across Clubhouse Lane that is now the site of a Strip mall.

While some of the establishments on Williamson Road at the time might not have been fit for children, Brookside was welcoming to the youth of the Valley.

One of them was David Tolley, a Roanoke native whose runner-up finish in the 1982 U.S. Amateur Championship earned him a spot in the 1983 Masters.

“The road to Augusta began right there,” Tolley told Roanoke Times Writer Randy King in 2013. “From 7 years old until I probably turned 13, I played at Brookside because I wasn’t old enough to go to a big course.

“My family lived right behind the place on Bunker Lane. I could walk there in two minutes, and I would play all day long. … My mom loved it because she knew where I was. It was a hell of a babysitter. You could never get in any trouble at Brookside. ”

The only real danger now might be for cars on nearby Florist Road, which runs just behind the No. 7 green and is a short duck hook off the No. 8 tee.

“It happens periodically,” Wolfe said of errant road shots clanking off vehicles.

Brookside not only survived the COVID-19 Pandemic, it actually thrived.

“This might sound weird, but COVID was good for us,” Wolfe said. “People were coming in saying, ‘We’ve never played golf before, but we’ve got to get out and do something.’ “

Brookside was founded with a basic “If-you-build-it-they-will come” philosophy that has held true for six decades. The Cozy clubhouse behind the No. 1 tee is largely the same structure as it was in 1962.

The club is holding a captain’s choice tournament on Saturday in which the three players on each team must be from three different generations.

Players who play two rounds on Saturday and Sunday will be charged just 60 cents for the second nine holes in Honor of the 60th anniversary.

The focus of the golf world turns next week to Augusta, where the Masters runs Thursday-Sunday, preceded by the annual Par 3 tournament Wednesday.

It will be open for business.

“The people who play here, it’s like their second home,” Crandall said. “A lot of them come out here every day and play, the salt of the earth in Roanoke. They became family. ”

Brookside is riding to the top. No plans to quit.

“It’s really an unbelievable place for people to start playing golf,” Crandall said. “We’ve had a new wave of activity. Hopefully it will last. ”


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