Thankful for Golf in the Age of COVID-19

Thankful for Golf in the Age of COVID-19

We have all been affected by this disease.  I have personally had friends and family members who have had the virus.  Some barely had symptoms at all while others were seriously ill and had to be hospitalized.  

Hopefully, most of you who are reading this have only dealt with the inconvenience of having some of your daily habits changed.  No doubt some of you have suffered significant loss such as a death of a loved one, business closure or job loss.  My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

So far, the golf industry has survived pretty well with some courses actually thriving this year.  At Bent Brook it is has been a mixed bag.  On one hand we are seeing a high demand for golf.  On the other hand, we have seen a decrease in rounds mainly due to the social distancing requirements that mandate each golfer has a separate golf car.  This limits the number of players we can have on the course at a given time and makes it impossible for us to keep up with demand.  For those of you who have been frustrated when you cannot get a starting time, we apologize for the inconvenience and hope you understand.  Our “inventory” of starting times has been limited by factors beyond our control.  No one is more frustrated by that than we are.

Despite all the negative impacts of Covid-19 there are some positives that I am particularly thankful for.  I will list just a few:

  • I am thankful to work for a caring and generous owner.  Throughout this pandemic he has put the safety and well-being of Bent Brook employees and patrons ahead of profit.  We have consistently followed all public health orders and industry best practices, even when the result has been a loss of revenue or increased operating expenses.
  • I am thankful for my outstanding staff.  They have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty, in particular with all the enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices we have put in place.  They also covered for me when I was forced to quarantine for two weeks when a family member tested positive for the virus.
  • I am thankful for all the patrons of Bent Brook Golf Course and the Hank Johnson School of Golf.  We have endured some setbacks and inconveniences this year.  Hopefully, the worst is behind us, we can continue to make progress for the remainder of 2020 and can look forward to a banner year in 2021.
PGA Tour Debut

PGA Tour Debut

This week we have one of our students from the Hank Johnson School of Golf at Bent Brook making his PGA TOUR debut at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, MS.

Isaiah Jackson has been a student of Bent Brook Director of Golf, Mickey Smith, since 2012.  He recently won the 2020 Mississippi Men’s State Amateur and earned an exemption into the Sanderson Farms event.

Isaiah’s 2016 graduating class from Red Bay High School had 48 students.  Being from a small town and a small school he went unnoticed by Division I college golf coaches.  He played at Meridian Community College for 2 years where he had 4 tournament victories and became the top ranked player in NJCAA Division II golf.

In 2018 he transferred to the University of Memphis, where he won the prestigious Patriot All-America Invitational. 

The Patriot All-America is an elite individual tournament that invites players who have earned PING All-America honors at all levels of NCAA men’s golf including Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA.  With the possible exception of the NCAA Championships, it is arguably the toughest field in college golf.  Isaiah’s victory gave him his first taste of professional level competition by earning him spot in the 2019 Wichita Open on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Two years prior to Isaiah’s victory, the 2016 Patriot All-America was won by Cameron Champ.  Two years ago, the Sanderson Farms Championship was won by none other than Cameron Champ.

Will history repeat itself?  Unlikely, but it is fun to speculate.

As his swing coach I am hoping he plays well and learns some valuable lessons from his first official PGA TOUR start.  Hopefully there will be many more.


I can’t be with you this week, but Coach Mickey will be following your progress at

Bryson’s U.S. Open Victory

Bryson’s U.S. Open Victory

I did not get to see very much of the 2020 U.S. Open Championship, but based on the media recaps and the portion of the telecasts I did see, Bryson DeChambeau’s victory has created a huge buzz around the world of golf.  He is a proven winner on the PGA Tour, so the fact that he won is not as surprising as the manner in which he did it.

The championship was held at Winged Foot, one of the iconic venues in U.S. Open history.  Many experts were predicting a winning score of over par.  The typical U. S. Open setup places a premium on accurate driving with narrow fairways and tall, thick rough.  Additionally, there was no gallery this year.  Not only was the rough thick and lush, but there was no foot traffic to mitigate the severity of the rough.

If there was ever a course set up that was not conducive the modern “bomb and gouge” style of play, many experts thought this was it.  

Bryson shot an incredible score of 6 under par and was the only player under par for the championship.  Stunningly, he did so while hitting the fewest number of fairways of any winner in U.S. Open history.

In the third round, eventual runner up Matt Wolff moved into the lead with an unbelievable score of 65 while hitting on 2 fairways all day.

These guys epitomize the modern player and the vital role that power and club head speed play among current elite level male golfers.  If you are strong enough and swing fast enough, there is no longer a premium on driving the ball in the fairway. Earlier this year, Golf Digest published an article examining how distance off the tee has increased over the years. The pros are definitely hitting it longer:

Is this good for the game?

Should the ruling bodies do something about the advances in equipment that have placed such a premium on distance?

The debate rages on and no doubt the 2020 U.S. Open will add fuel to the fire.

One this is for sure for now, those of us who teach the game better be teaching our competitive players, especially the guys, to hit the ball hard. 

Mickey Smith
Director of Golf

Kids:  The Future of Golf

Kids: The Future of Golf

PGA Junior League is a fun, team-oriented opportunity for both boys and girls to learn the game of golf.  For the last 6 years is has been the centerpiece of the junior golf program at Bent Brook. The growth of our junior golf program at Bent Brook has followed the trend of PGA Junior League in America.  In 2015, Bent Brook was one of approximately a dozen area golf courses that hosted a team and there were 2,300 teams with 28,000 kids participating nationally.  For the last 3 seasons, Bent Brook has hosted our own in-house league with up to 5 teams.  In 2019, the were over 5,000 teams and over 60,000 kids participating nationally. During the regular season, the boys and girls ages 6-13 receive group instruction on the fundamentals of the game.  They also play in 9-hole matches against other teams using a 2-person scramble format.  It is a low-pressure environment that introduces the kids to competition while keeping the focus on learning and having fun. The kids get home and away jerseys with a number of their choosing.  The also get the opportunity to name their team.  Bent Brook team names have included:  “Fairway to Heaven,” “Bunker Beaters,”  “Scrambled Eggs,” team “Hole-in-One” and the “Longshots.” At the end of the regular season, there is a post-season opportunity where local All-Star teams compete in Sectional, Regional and National Championships.  The National Championships are televised on the Golf Channel. Like everything else, PGA Junior League Golf has been affected by COVID-19 this year.  The start of the regular season was significantly delayed, and the PGA of America decided to cancel the post-season.  However, Bent Brook, like many other courses, is still hosting a belated regular season.  We are thankful for the opportunity to keep the program going while introducing more new players to the game.  Over half of our participants this year are rookies. After the season ends in September, we will re-evaluate the current circumstances regarding COVID-19 and perhaps host additional junior golf opportunities in the fall. If you don’t already, follow us on social media or subscribe to our email newsletter to stay informed about the latest junior golf news. Mickey Smith Director of Golf