Though of very little significance to me, the varying standards of golf course food options are always something I notice. Some golf clubs have elaborate grill rooms, full bars, and plush dining rooms for their members or patrons to enjoy. Other courses offer food that’s one step below what you might find spinning on the racks of your local convenience store or Little League concession stand.
I have never been a big eater at the golf course. Perhaps it’s because I grew up on baseball infields instead of country club fairways, or my adolescent work experience at a deli counter and a golf course’s grill room. Maybe I’m just a cheap Scotsman trapped by birth on the wrong side of the pond. But I’ve never really had a burning desire to eat a full meal at the golf course.
Now, that’s not to say I never eat at the golf course. When I used to ride a cart more often, I would almost always splurge for a hot dog, pack of crackers, or Snickers at the turn. This would invariably be complimented with a Coke or cold sports drink (God Bless them, I think Tates Creek Golf Course in Lexington was the world’s last purveyor of the old carbonated All Sport drinks). Maybe only once or twice a year, if it’s a nice clubhouse or I’m playing 36 holes, I might check out the grill room for a bite to eat after a round.
A few golf course meals have been memorable, for better or worse. I was fortunate to enjoy a great sandwich in the Hurstbourne Country Club grill room in Louisville once. I specifically remember enjoying my sandwiches between rounds at Oxmoor Valley and Silver Lakes on the Alabama Robert Trent Jones Trail last year. And I always being happy with the burger and the club sandwiches at the University Club of Kentucky during my brief tenure as a student member there. Unfortunately, these meals constitute the apex of my golf course dining experience.
I’m no foodie, but I am a red-blooded American man with an Honorary Doctorate in Sausages and Processed Meats from the University of Old Folks Country Sausage. In my expert opinion, there is no worse culinary experience than the first bite into a hot dog or frank that you didn’t know was cold in the middle. There’s no coming back from the absolute and immediate horror of wondering if the damned thing was ever cooked and if you now have trichinosis. And that, dear Readers, is the more common of my experiences with golf course food.
I’m not qualified to give accurate odds that a golf course sandwich or snack isn’t going to be below par, inadequate, or just plain gross. Suffice it to say that I generally stick to the prepackaged crackers, candy bars, and the odd piece of fruit that the grill room might offer from the shelf. My policy is better safe and unhealthy than sorry and incapacitated.
Now that I’m walking more golf courses, I rarely eat anything while playing anyway, and just try to drink lots of water or Gatorade. Yes, that’s ass backwards on a calories in, calories burned basis, I know. But I just don’t feel comfortable trying to walk a course and execute full, powerful golf swings with a giant hamburger or bratwurst digesting in my stomach even if I was sure to receive a quality product. I’m not 19 years old, after all.
I could be wrong, but I suspect most golf courses earn little to no money on net from their grill room and restaurants, especially if the club doesn’t have a liquor or beer license. Why else would so many private golf clubs and country clubs have monthly food and beverage minimums? I find this a little odd, because it’s a non-free market proposition for the golfer. It’s more akin to eating in an airport or stadium with the limited number of viable alternatives. For the golfer, it’s not like you can run down the street to Winchell’s for a bite at the turn.
And I’m sure that at the high-end country clubs and golf courses, the food is actually quite good. I don’t have any personal experience at the dining room at Idle Hour Country Club, but my neighbor, who is very talented, is the Executive Chef there. I would certainly give him the benefit of the doubt if I ever got the chance to review their menu.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe most golf course food is really quite good and my near-traumatic experiences are the exception and irrationally prejudiced me beyond the bounds of reasonable suspicion. I’m genuinely interested to know if you guys have any gleaming recommendations or horror stories with golf course food, so please feel free to chime in with your comments and experiences.
Personally, I don’t order the chicken at a steakhouse, partake in the barbeque north of the Mason-Dixon line, and I certainly try not to eat at the golf course.