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The comeback trail

Brookwood Country Club is known for its picturesque fairways lined with beautiful oaks and pines.

Brookwood Country Club is known for its picturesque fairways lined with beautiful oaks and pines.

Jackson club sees good times ahead after suffering the tough times

Featuring one of the state’s most picturesque golf courses, Brookwood Country Club had fallen on hard times in the fall of 2007.

Memberships had dipped dramatically, the South Jackson club’s buildings needed a major overhaul and the once-pristine golf course resembled a cow pasture.

The former owners wished to sell to a residential developer.

That’s when Jackson entrepreneur Butch Dickson, his son, Colby, and former NFL great Willie Richardson swung into action.

In spring of 2008, Dickson’s group purchased the property, changed the name to Brookwood Byram Country Club, invested $500,000 into renovations and transformed the moribund club into a winner, giving the south Jackson area a much-needed infusion of hope.

“The reception by the South Jackson community has been very good, as has the interest from golfers all over the area,” said Colby Dickson, who is Brookwood Byram’s director of golf operations.  “Not only has the golf course been successful, we’re also drawing groups such as the Byram Business Association to hold their weekly meetings here.”

Born in Jackson, Dickson, 30, had played a round of golf at the former club a few months before it was closed.  He had no idea that the country club had shut its doors in Nov. 2007.

Enter Butch Dickson and Richardson.

Colby Dickson

Colby Dickson

“The original owners had talked about making a residential development out of the property,” he said.  “But we looked it over and thought it would be a shame for the property to be turned into a subdivision or rows of apartments.  We knew the community surrounding the club was opposed to that idea.”

Harvey Lee, who resides in Brookleigh subdivision, which is situated less than the length of a Tiger Woods tee shot from the BBCC, is pleased with the rebirth of the country club.

“Having the country club and the golf course back has been great news for south Jackson, particularly for homeowners surrounding the property,” he said.  “We’re opposed to anything that would have brought down our property values, and very happy that the club has new ownership and a new beginning.”

The Dickson team began negotiations to buy Brookwood shortly after it was shuttered and sooner than later, the parties came to an agreement.

But there was much work ahead, said Colby Dickson.

“In May 2008, we started bringing in the lawn mowers to begin getting the golf course back in shape,” he said.  “There was knee-high grass and the place looked like a cow pasture.”

The clubhouse was completely renovated with over a half-million-dollar invested in improvements, which included repainting and refurnishing locker rooms and the dining facilities.

Brookwood Country Club is known for its picturesque fairways lined with beautiful oak and pine trees.

Brookwood Country Club is known for its picturesque fairways lined with beautiful oak and pine trees.

In addition to golf, the club plays hosts to a variety of events, including weddings and corporate gatherings.  The club’s banquet room features a sweeping, panoramic view of the golf course.

Colby Dickson takes great pride in the restoration of the course, which opened in 1954 and features tree-lined fairways and gently sloped terrain.

“It took a lot of hard work from that first day when the grass was so high and the course was a mess,” Colby Dickson said.  “We’ve done a lot of work on it.  We took some trees down and cleared some underbrush but have retained the beauty of the course.  We even have older members tell us that it’s better than they’ve ever seen it.

“It is really a gorgeous piece of property.”

Despite the term country club in its name, Brookwood Byram CC is an open public course.  Non-members can play a round of 18 holes for $19 any day of the week.

Financially, the nearly two-year old club is succeeding, with a membership of over 200 and annual revenues of $1.3 million, according to Dickson.

“So far, we are pleased by the tremendous response we’ve gotten from the community,” he said.  “There are always things that you want to improve.  With the up-and-down economy, it’s had an effect on business.  But on those days when we’ve rented out all the (golf) carts, it’s gratifying to know that we are on the right track.”

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