The Brown County Country Club has been a member of the Shively family for almost 30 years. Now, five siblings are continuing the tradition their parents started — but with a twist.
The business has been converted to BC3 Disc Golf, a 24-hole, championship-caliber disc golf course and club on Country Club Road.
Reservations are not required to play; anyone can show up between 8 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.
When Dick and Mary Shively bought the Brown County Country Club in 1988, it was a traditional golf course and country club. The couple had been members of the club before buying it. It was established in 1961.
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The couple ran it as a golf course and country club until the early 2000s when they decided to retire and rent the facility out to other business owners. But that didn’t go well.
The couple’s children had been purchasing shares of the business from their parents while it was being rented, daughter Nancy Pickell said. Soon, the Shively siblings began retiring and were able to focus more on what they could do to keep the club in the family.
When Steve Shively retired from his career in the software industry, he moved back to Indiana from Colorado. The other siblings all lived in Indianapolis.
“It was wild, because really the first three or four months I moved here, every time I would strike up a conversation with somebody, they knew about the course or they had a real personal experience or a great memory of it,” Shively said.
The siblings began talking business plans.
“The first thing we agreed on was that we really wanted to find a way to get more people to come out and enjoy this place. It is such a beautiful place. It’s stunning at times,” Shively said.
“When I looked around in Brown County, there’s a lot of places do that (events), but there aren’t any places that I think are as beautiful as this.”
Making the club a venue for events like weddings and graduation parties was the first decision the siblings made. That including renovating the entire clubhouse — a project the siblings started in 2015.
“It was still standing, but it had a few rough edges,” Shively said.
They rewired the building, sanded and cleaned floors, installed new plumbing and landscaping, painted and fixed structural problems.
“The bathrooms — picture the worst gas station bathroom you’ve ever been to,” sister Norma Calvert said.
Then the decision was made to not go back to regular golf, but disc golf instead.
In disc golf, “golfers” use Frisbee-like discs instead of clubs and balls, and try to hit “holes” that look like wastebaskets with chains on them.
“We knew regular golf was expensive,” Calvert said.
“More importantly, as we talked there was nobody that really had a passion and wanted to do that. I had just learned to play disc golf just about the same time we started talking about this,” Shively said.
Another reason for the change was that almost anybody can play disc golf, he said.
“It’s not necessarily that physically demanding, although it’s great exercise depending on how you play and how much you play,” he said.
It’s also not expensive to play. A disc can cost $7 to $8, and used discs can be found for cheaper.
“It met one of our goals of really giving people a reason to come out here,” Shively said. “The golfers who come out here adore this place. They are amazed by it. There are not many places like this in Indiana.”
The course is pay-to-play and is open to the public. Annual club memberships also are available for frequent players.
The course has 24 holes designed for advanced players, 24 holes for casual players and a 9-hole beginners loop.
It has hills, holes in the woods and obstacles, like ponds, that players have to navigate around. Some fairways are long and curvy and others are short, tight and wooded.
“That’s what serious golfers need to play, because the shorter holes are not a challenge for them,” Shively said.
The course started with 12 holes and grew.
“The feedback after the first 12 holes was phenomenal, so we decided to keep going,” Shively said.
A 24-hole course also allows the BC3 to host tournaments that have 100 players, all starting at once.
Rental discs and lessons are available, too.
Paths are lined or marked with arrows to help guide new players on the course. Shively also has been installing some bridges to help golfers through the ravines.
Another disc golf course opened at nearby Deer Run Park last year. That one has 18 holes.
Shively is a member of the Brown County Disc Golf Alliance, a club that alternates playing Tuesday nights each month at either Deer Run or BC3. The group also maintains and supports the course at Deer Run, Shively said.
“I tell people they should play Deer Run (too) when they come up here, because even though it’s a mile-and-a-half or so from here, it’s a totally different course,” Shively said. “The holes along the river are just stunning. There’s nothing like that here.”
Monday through Friday: Course open 8 a.m. to dusk, $8 for adults, $4 for kids/seniors/active military. Use dropbox for payment. Disc rental is $5 per day.
Tuesday: Brown County Discgolf Alliance league informal match play, 5:30 p.m. Players can join anytime. Alternates between BC3 and Deer Run. Matches will take place at Deer Run in June.
Saturday: Random draw doubles, 10 a.m. Open to the public; $2 entry fee. Free beginner lessons open to the public at noon.
Sunday, June 18 (Father’s Day): Dad plays free with paying son/daughter, grandson/granddaughter, etc.
Saturday, July 9: BC3 Disc Golf grand opening tournament
Saturday, Sept. 23: IN Fall Series No. 7 (at Deer Run course), open to the public
Sunday, Sept. 24: Doubles tournament
Saturday, Nov. 11: BC3 Disc Golf Club championship
Learn more: browncountycountryclub.com
BC3 Disc Golf is founding member of the Brown County Discgolf Alliance (BCDA). The club promotes disc golf in the Brown County area and plays regularly on the BC3 and Deer Run courses.
Learn more: browncountydiscgolf.org or search Facebook for “Brown County Discgolf Alliance”