If you think about it, golf courses have the ultimate advantage when it comes to running their food and beverage business. Their customer base is already built in, so the challenge isn't necessarily to draw in customers, but to simply keep the ones who are already there to play golf.
Incredibly, many courses miss out on this opportunity. They either don't have the expertise or budget to pull it off successfully. Offering a hot dog or some overpriced stale sandwiches and beer only encourages golfers to sneak their own on the course and, worse yet, go somewhere else after the round to reminisce about the golf they just played.
Of course many courses and resorts get it right, and, with that, I'd like to recognize 10 that do an exceptional job. These aren't the 10 best by any stretch, since I don't always get to experience the clubhouse restaurants where I play golf, but they are 10 that have stood out for me over the last few years. I've also limited my selections to the United States.
If you have an example you'd like to recognize, by all means, comment below.
Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, TPC Scottsdale
Words really can't describe this eclectic combination of great rums and a menu inspired by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval. That menu features the distinct flavors of South and Central America as well as a great selection of Pan-Latin cuisine and more than 150 rums. The highlight for me was the "suviche" bar, offering raw sushi and ceviche combining Asian and Latin influences. There's also great views of the sunset and the 18th green at TPC Scottsdale with the McDowell Mountains providing the backdrop as well as live music on weekends and the Sunday brunch.
The Tap Room at Pebble Beach Lodge, California
Even if you don't play golf, the famous Tap Room at Pebble Beach is a bucket-list experience. The chances of a celebrity sighting are pretty good, and the food is more reasonable and better quality than you might expect. With dozens of brews to choose from and great sandwiches, steaks and seafood, it's an exceptional experience, plus you'll enjoy all the great historic photographs on the walls as well as the view of the 18th and Carmel Bay below when you step into the Lodge. While the Tap Room isn't cheap (dinner can be pricey), you can get great soups and appetizers that will certainly fill you up. The best deal might be the authentic bratwurst, warm potatoes and sauerkraut for around 10 bucks.
Lettuce and tomato? Bacon and bleu cheese? Happy National Cheeseburger Day! However you like it, there’s one thing we can agree on—there’s nothing better than a juicy cheeseburger after a great day on the golf course. Case in point, The Tap Room Burger is loaded with pepper bacon and sharp cheddar on a Brioche bun. This specialty goes perfectly with the golf memorabilia, laughs with your friends and your favorite beverage. To learn more about The Tap Room visit http://goo.gl/5BSTNo, and in the meantime, make our mouths water and tell us your favorite cheeseburger combination. #TheTapRoom #NationalCheeseburgerDay #TheLodgeatPebbleBeach
Cape Grille Steak & Seafood, Cape Club, Falmouth, Mass.
The new restaurant at the new Cape Club was part of the massive improvements at the old Ballymeade Country Club, which reopened in 2016. Under the direction of one of the Cape's most respected executive chefs, Tim Miller, the beautiful Cape Grille, which also draws most of its customers from outside the golf course, offers an eclectic selection of steaks, seafood and desserts, along with a full bar, TV screens and great views of the golf course. The homemade ice cream, alone, is worth sticking around for after the round.
Beck's Prime at Memorial Park, Houston
Memorial Park Golf Course is the model I wish more courses would follow, especially munis. If you're not willing to take on the food and beverage yourself, contract it out to someone who knows what they're doing. That's the case with Beck's Prime, known for its steakburgers (which I think are the best in the country). Beck's Prime also has great shakes, steaks, salads, chicken sandwiches and grilled vegetables. At the Memorial Park location, the majority of customers aren't even golfers.
You can watch sports, including the Golf Channel, of course, inside at Beck's Prime at Memorial Park in Houston.
Speidel Grill, Oglebay Golf Resort, West Virginia
Nothing fancy here, but the Speidel Grill at Oglebay Golf Resort at one of the best golf values you'll find in the country offers all kinds of tasty golf comfort food, such as great barbecue sandwiches, chili dogs, club sandwiches, burgers and its fried egg and baloney sandwiches (remember those from your childhood?).
Club DeSoto Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Hot Springs Village not only offers exceptional golf at an exceptional value but great dining, as well. One was Club DeSoto, which is in the clubhouse at DeSoto Golf Course. Everything on the menu is good and crafted by one of the best chefs in the area. The restaurant is known for Westerman's famous pork shank, which was more like a fine beef short rib than pork.
Lagerhead Tavern at Oyster Reef, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The fairly new LagerHead Tavern, located at the Rees Jones-designed Oyster Reef Golf Club on Hilton Head, is another one of those clubhouse restaurants that does very well with non-playing customers. Executive chef Eric Seaglund partnered with Heritage Golf Group's award-winning culinary expert Chef Michael Toscano to create a Lowcountry-inspired menu using fresh, regional ingredients sourced from local farmers markets in an atmosphere overlooking the course. There's also live entertainment and great views of the golf course.
Arroyo Grille at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, Maricopa, Ariz.
During one of my trips to Arizona and Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, I had a meatball soup that was so good, I went back and got a pint to go for dinner. That's how good the food is at the Arroyo Grille, which, like several on my list, does as well with customers away from the golf course as it does with golfers. From great salads and chili to southwestern fare and steaks, everything at Arroyo Grill is delicious and memorable.
Roy's at Ko Olina, Kapolei, Hawaii
Like Memorial Park, Ko Olina Golf Club on the island of Oahu let the experts run its food and beverage operation. In this case, it's the Hawaiian fusion restaurant Roy's, which offers an outdoor bar and dining right at the club. With everything from fusion to Hawaii's freshest seafood, it's a no-brainer to have lunch or check out happy hour after a round of golf. The sushi selection is particularly tantalizing as is Roy's Dim Sum appetizer for two.
Piper's Grille, Omni ChampionsGate, Orlando
For a resort-style golf restaurant, Piper's Grille is exceptional, and it's not overly priced, either. Breakfast is especially good with a wide variety of offerings, great sandwiches and burgers and just about any drink you can dream up, especially in the Bloody Mary department. The beautiful dining room and bar overlooks the 36 holes of Omni ChampionsGate Golf Club, where it's tradition for a "piper" to play the bagpipes at sunset.