Comfort stations: Where luxury golf meets free food and drink

Comfort stations: Where luxury golf meets free food and drink

Comfort stations have become the new norm at exclusive private clubs like The Summit, which makes its PGA Tour debut this weekend.
Ice cream is available on course at the Summit Club.

While you watch the PGA Tour this weekend at The Summit Club, imagine yourself playing the fairways of this immaculate Tom Fazio design in Summerlin, the posh community outside Las Vegas.

Those lucky enough to do so are not only spoiled with a great golf course, but one of the best perks of a luxury golf experience - the comfort station.

When a golfer walks into a comfort station, they truly feel like a kid in a candy store. Everything's FREE. Food. Drinks. Snacks. Candy. Cookies. Even the dreaded healthy stuff like apples and granola bars. You name it.

Good thing your kitchen cupboard doesn't look like this. Your dentist would have a field day. The calling card inside The Summit's comfort station is Haagen-Dazs ice cream, perfect for those searing summer days in the desert. On Hawaii (Big) Island, it's hard to choose between the homemade ice-cream sandwiches or a frozen margarita at Kohanaiki's two comfort stations.

The temptation is to grab two of everything until your host points out the camera, set up to keep greedy golfers from going overboard.

What do a couple $2 candy bars and $5 beers matter when a club like The Summit charges a $200,000 initiation fee, plus more annual fees? The Summit is one of many high-end clubs created or bought by Discovery Land Co., which dreamed up the concept of the comfort station in the 1990s.

The comfort station is geared toward the high-end private club, but over the years, the idea has filtered down to resort courses that want to impress. Even some public courses have adopted the idea that giving golfers something for "free" makes them feel more welcomed and appreciated. Here's where to find a few comfort stations, and other treats, to feel like a real golf god.

Comfort in Los Cabos

"Cabo" is the only golf destination that's gone all-in on the comfort station. Almost every course worth playing, resort or private, offers the experience. It's also part of the reason the courses at the tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula are generally quite expensive to play.

Many Cabo comfort stations are even more over-the-top than their U.S. counterparts. They are staffed with chefs ready to cook up a fresh fish taco or other delicacy. Quivira by Jack Nicklaus boasts two comfort stations, one on the clifftops overlooking the water and another on the ninth hole, where a chef takes personal orders.

Golfers at Diamante can order up sliders, breakfast or lunch, and smoothies before their round at Diamante Dunes at the "slider bar" adjacent to the driving range. Rancho San Lucas serves up the Shark Shack, named after designer Greg Norman, on the course. Costa Palmas, a new Robert Trent Jones Jr. design up the Cape, outdoes them both with Bouchie's, a small restaurant/store next to the driving range that also can be a pit stop for more after the fifth hole, and another comfort station, 'Lucha Libre', on the course. All of these spectacular courses mentioned above require a stay at an affiliated resort to play.

For years, Cabo del Sol's Ocean course was famous for its free fish tacos at the turn. Now that it's been rebranded as the completely private Cove Club, the free fish tacos are served in an even more impressive place, the Taco Bambi, located by the 7th tee right on the beach and the ocean. Membership does have its privileges.

Puerto Los Cabos is the only truly public course with a comfort station. It didn't have one originally when the club opened with a nine by both Norman and Nicklaus. Costumers eventually demanded they get one once a third nine by Nicklaus was added, according to Sergio Castillo, who has been the director of golf since the 27-hole club's early days.

Munchies in Montana

The comfort station at Moonlight Basin is stocked with food and treats.

If the TV cameras hadn't been on them during The Match in Big Sky, Montana, earlier this summer, it's likely one of Bryson, Phil, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers would have visited the comfort station at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin for a mid-round snack. Not many golfers realize that Moonlight Basin and its nearby sister course, Spanish Peaks, actually offer some public access. You simply need to rent a home in one of the associated communities. The 139-room Montage Big Sky will open next to the impressive Spanish Peaks log clubhouse by the end of the year, offering even more access to a really strong Tom Weiskopf design. True to their environment, the comfort stations at each place are rustic-looking backwoods escapes.

Ozarks National

A comfort station golfers pass twice at Ozarks National at Big Cedar Lodge serves up free hot dogs and drinks.

The Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri walks the line between country kitsch and lavish luxe all the time. That's what makes its comfort station on Ozarks National kinda funny and kinda cool at the same time. Golfers playing the course can help themselves to free hot dogs, chips and pop (or soda, if that's what you call it). Alcoholic beverages cost money. Nothing extravagant but a dawg or two still relieves the hunger pangs.

Tranquilo Golf Club

Who says free on-course food always has to be unhealthy? At the Tom Fazio-designed Tranquilo Golf Club near Disney at Four Seasons Resort Orlando, there are cooler boxes with chilled apples and oranges posted by the restrooms.

Hartford Golf Club

The Hartford Golf Club, a 27-hole Donald Ross layout, features one nine that has a relatively modest but welcome extra treat at strategic points. Pre-COVID, not one but two upright plastic jugs sit beside a few tee boxes, one spigot dispensing water and the other pouring the club's refreshing Arnold Palmer blend of tea and lemonade. Here's hoping for a return.

Been to a comfort station that's blown you away? Let us know in the comments below.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Comfort stations: Where luxury golf meets free food and drink