One of the elements of your typical golf experience, whether at the home course or during an away game, that never gets enough mention is what happened at the half way house at the turn or after the round. Just yesterday I went with the Hot and Sour Soup Special with a side of Fritos and earned the quizzical wrinkled eyebrow from a friend as a result. My point was simple….they did not have any fried wonton noodles to throw in the soup.
At a recent après golf dinner session with about 20 golf buddies the conversation got seriously nostalgic when it came to favorite half way houses or grilling stations from the day. The quality of the dog off the grill at the Teepee next to the seventh tee
on the old Chief at Indian Springs brought a universal tear to the eyes of all present. There is the stone charcoal grill somewhere in the middle of the course at Argyle that I believe still offers burgers and dogs to weary golfers.
At our place, Woodmont, in the Mr. Peabody way-back days, we had a screened halfway hut between the old thirteenth/sixteenth tee boxes where the charcoal grill smoke wafting out the back got your juices flowing in anticipation while you hit your approach shots into twelve. The noise of the screen door slamming and the tone deaf guys arguing over the presses down the stretch presented an added distraction/ambiance to playing your forced carry shot over the pond into the par three thirteenth.
Playing golf with my son during his developmental teenage years we actually used to rate the courses we played by the quality of the daily special at the turn. A good kilbasa was worth four stars, especially if they had the sauerkraut or grilled onions to support it and some true ballpark yellow mustard. One pleasant surprise was a Philly Cheesesteak Wrap at a rural venue in southern Pennsylvania. The Cajun Chicken Sandwich at the Ocean Course in Kiawah was a very nice regional offering I remember well.
There are famous halfway venues like the Lighthouse at Pine Valley where you can get almost anything you want, including some fluid anesthetic, going or coming as it is straddled by the holes on both the outward and inward nines. Or there are storied offerings like cheddar cheese and peanut butter with crackers you scoop out of big ceramic urns at places like Somerset Hills Golf Club in New Jersey.
Sometimes it is the garnishing that can make the experience complete. Freshly fried kettle chips seemed like the right sidekick for the homemade walnut chicken salad sandwich at Kinloch Golf Club in Richmond. Since we are on that subject , the kettle chips and garlic dip at Arnie’s Bay Hill is an after round treat that certainly deserves some kudos. A serious Jewish dill pickle pulled from the brine container can replenish your depleted fluid and salt levels better than any electrolyte drink.
And let’s not short change the antidote for low blood sugar moments. A fresh homemade oatmeal cookie the size of your golf glove or a frozen Milky Way or Snickers has proved pivotal in turning around more than it’s share of mediocre golf outings. The Magnum Ice Cream Bar is a particular favorite of our roving culinary expert when in the British Isles. He swears they taste better there than here.
Even a package of Trail Mix or authentic Peanut M & Ms can do the trick. Pass on the Wasabi Mix…some things are best left for at a cocktail party with a chardonnay in your hand. A recent trip to Scotland opened my eyes up to their national non-alcoholic beverage of choice Irn-Bru that tastes like melted bubble gum but really handles that same sugar depression nicely. For mobile gratification keeping a stash of Tootsie Roll Pops in the ball pouch is a time tested protocol. If your stars are aligned you get a full Indian on the wrapper which should be good for at least one birdie coming in.
So the next time you finish a mediocre round at your local fee track or a fancy resort course, remember that the full golf experience to a veteran journeyman is more than the quality of the practice facility and the hard work of the name brand designer. It should include credit to the flavorful product of the elbow grease of the chef at the halfway house or simply acknowledgment of the pleasant smile of the attractive attendant who delivered you the tasty fare.
Remember, the true measure of the quality of the “dog at the turn” is how much the trash can is overflowing two holes later.