Mossy Oak expands its outdoor brand with a venture into golf course ownership.
Life in the south is a little slower. It just is. It's that way by choice, not circumstance. That is what makes it special. And nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the sleepy southern town of West Point, Mississippi.
This charming town of just a few thousand takes great pride in being known for championship football, Mossy Oak, and Old Waverly Golf Club. Recently two of the three, Old Waverly and Mossy Oak, teamed up with world-renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse to bring the Magnolia State yet another southern gem, the Mossy Oak Golf Club.
"I really wasn't looking to build another golf course until we were able to acquire the property across the street," said Old Waverly owner, George Bryan. "Teaming up with Mossy Oak to build a minimalist golf course is just right."
For Mossy Oak, the opportunity to continue placing roots in their home community and doing so with a family friend was simply too good to be passed up.
"Well, it is not necessarily that we are getting into the golf business, we are in the West Point business," said Mossy Oak's founder Toxey Haas. "It is about the Old Waverly, Bryan family and Haas family getting together to do something here. We wouldn't do this if it were somewhere else I don't think.
"The bond between our families goes way, way back. Understand that beyond all the smart business reasons to do this, the underlying foundation is the trust and relationship between the Haas and Bryan families."
And while some on the outside may look at Mossy Oak's move into the golf arena as off the beaten path, Hass sees the venture as extension of their mission.
"Golf is 'the' outdoor sport, athletic wise and connecting human beings with the outdoors, that's the core mission of our entire enterprise," Haas explained. "When you play golf you are playing nature and that's the concept behind this golf course."
In order to stay within the theme of "Nature's Golf" Hanse, who recently completed the Doral renovation for Donald Trump, is challenged with keeping the land as natural as it was a century ago.
"In good ole boy terms Hanse said he wants this course to look like it has been here 100 years in two years. As if it just grew up out of the land," said Haas. "We aren't going to excavate and import all this stuff and have this emerald green sticking out of nowhere. This is actually going to be a part of this landscape and the property is perfect for it."
The rolling terrain will be filled with native grasses and the occasional giant tree Mossy Oak is known for, and construction on the 7,400 yard, par 72, Mossy Oak Golf Club will begin in just a couple of weeks with an early estimated open date set for 2017.
"It is going to be an inland links course and you can stand on No. six tee and see all 18 flags. I don't know that I've ever seen that," Bryan said.
"I was reading a book about Bobby Jones the other day. He looked out over the farm at Augusta National and said this land looks like it is waiting for a golf course," he continued. "When we were talking with Gil he says this land is just waiting for us to build a golf course on it. I'm not comparing us to Augusta, but that quote just stuck in my mind."
Mossy Oak's Golf Roots
This is not the first venture into the golf arena for the camo king. They once produced a successful show for the Golf Channel.
"There is a huge crossover between golf and the outdoors world. About 15 years ago, because of "Cuz" (Ronnie Strickland), we had a show on the Golf Channel called Second Season," said Haas. "It was amazing when we got the data that 74 - 75 percent of the PGA players listing hunting of fishing as their favorite pastime. That' is a huge percentage.
"It was huge for us, we had Jack Nicklaus, Fuzzy (Zoeller), (David) Feherty and it just went on and on of notables who wanted to get behind the outdoors. It was amazing to hear Jack Nicklaus talk about how important it was to him, his wife and family to all be on a deer hunt. He talked about how much it meant to him to sit in a stand and watch the sun come up in the morning in the mist, it was pretty cool."
And with a golf course on the horizon, it's a good thing Haas is OK with his team slipping away from the office.
"We've been sneaking deer hunts, turkey hunts, and duck hunts before work for years....what difference is nine or 18 holes of golf?" Haas said with a laugh. "In today's golf my guys are working on calls between shots. I've never measured success by time behind a desk, thank goodness."
Photo via Mossy Oak