The best kept secret on campus?
Hint. The team is ranked No. 15 in the country, won its conference championship last year and is poised to repeat this year. It has a realistic chance of securing the best season in program history and practices in a new, state-of-the-art facility that would easily make any of its competitors jealous.
Don’t know? Don’t worry. Neither does anyone else.
Introducing men’s golf: the least-talked about, most-accomplished team at CSU.
Three talented juniors — Bryce Hanstad, Dustin Morris and Riley Arp –/have all played significant roles in helping the Rams to record-tying five tournament victories this season, with Hanstad and Morris each winning individual titles.
But it’s a freshman and senior who really complete the dynamics of the team. Literally from A to Z.
Brothers Zen and Zahkai Brown may share the roof they sleep under at night and the parents who raised them, but that’s about where their similarities end.
Zen is a senior who has played in every tournament the last four years. Zahkai is a freshman who still has to fight his way into a tournament every week.
Even their golf games are different.
Zen tends to play a draw, Zahkai a cut.
Zen is even-keeled, doesn’t take risks and scores pretty consistently. Almost too consistently, as, despite all his success, has yet to win an individual title.
Zahkai is more aggressive, and according to his coach, Jamie Bermel, “has to bring back the reins a little bit at times.” Still, his aggressiveness has paid off at least once in his brief career, winning an individual title back in October.
“Zen and Zahkai really couldn’t be two more different people,” Bermel said. “Zen’s really laid back. Zahkai’s pretty emotional.”
Their polarizing characteristics were first noticed by their mother, Lori, while growing up together in Denver.
“If he liked vanilla ice cream, I’d like chocolate,” Zahkai said.
While Zen was born with a putter in his hand, Zahkai initially preferred swimming and didn’t take up golf seriously until he was a freshman in high school. And up until then, like most brothers their age, they weren’t exactly best friends.
But as Zahkai’s skills on the links improved, the disliking began to wane — especially when he was good enough to give Zen a run for his money.
“Because we were such opposites, we didn’t really share interests as much growing up, especially until he got into golf. But in the last year we’ve grown close,” Zen said.
Still, the competition to be the best in the family lives on.
“I try not to let him beat me, you know, because I’m the older brother,” Zen said. “But his game’s gotten really good, and either of us will win on any given day.”
And when the freshman does beat the senior, younger brother Zahkai knows his game is right.
“If I beat him, then I’m doing well,” Zahkai said.
But even so, it’s the elder who always has the last word, especially considering they live together.
Let’s just say Zen knows what the hierarchy is in the Brown residence. Because as he says, “Freshmen need to take the trash out.”
Rubbish aside, the Browns are fully embracing the rare opportunity of being brothers and teammates at the same time, even if it is for only one year.
“It’s awesome that we got to play together for one year, especially such a successful year,” Zen said.
Sports columnist Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.