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Player's Journal

Solid 5: golf club lunches


Playing golf is hungry work. Jon Davie gets the lowdown on the best dining experiences from across the golfing world.
Solid 5: golf club lunches

One of the many reasons that we love this game is the people we get to play with. Three hours on the links allows us the space to catch up with old friends, or to become acquainted with new ones. And when busy lives allow, we can continue the conversation with our companions over a well-earned meal – indeed, the word companion comes from the Latin – con (with) and panis (bread) – someone with whom you break bread. We asked the Sounder community to share their favourite experiences of golfing gastronomy... 

The full works

When it’s done properly, the classic jacket and tie golf club carvery is a thing of beauty. Soup or seafood hors d’oeuvre to start. Your choice of beef, pork or gammon – or maybe a bit of all three, with mountains of roast potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower cheese and a Yorkshire pudding. Then crumble with custard, and a cheese plate – all washed down with a couple of bottles of house claret, and a shot of Kummel to settle your stomach before heading out for another 18. Most of the classic British golf clubs deliver a version of this epic culinary endurance test – Deal, Rye, Swinley Forest and Denham were all nominated as great examples. And a special mention to Cruden Bay, where they throw in a pasta carbonara option to really max out that post-lunch carb dip.

The lobster lunch

The lunch at the National Golf Links of America is almost as famous as the course, with the whole lobster amuse-bouche setting the scene for a spread where seafood continues to feature heavily. Sadly, tee-times at NGLA aren’t readily available for mere mortals like us – so for lobster on the cheap, we suggest a pilgrimage to the classic Old Tom Morris Links at Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre. As you play the famous first hole, look out for an old fella named Cameron, who pulls lobster out of the bay in front of the clubhouse. Most of his catch is destined for the fine dining tables of London and Paris, but he’ll flog you lobster that’s still dripping seawater for a tenner.

The halfway hut

The halfway house is one of golf’s greatest inventions – what other sport has a bar available for competitors as they reach half-time? The world-famous Sunningdale sausage sandwich featured heavily among the favourites of our contributors, as did the honesty bar at The Renaissance Club, the bacon ‘flaguette’ at Birkdale, the Bovril with a dash of sherry at Royal St Georges, the lighthouse at Turnberry and the amazing sounding Burger Dog at San Francisco’s Olympic Club. If you can’t wait until the ninth green before stuffing your face, we recommend the ice cream van in the beach car park at Westward Ho! Tee off on the third at Royal North Devon (one of the widest fairways in golf, but watch out for traffic on the beach road), then treat yourself to a clotted cream vanilla cone with flake as you wander up to hit your second shot. Heaven.

The golf club classics

Food has a unique ability to take us back to a particular time and place – the taste, the smell, the people. A simple question to the Sounder community about food and golf clubs led to an outpouring of nostalgia that will resonate with anyone who grew up playing golf in the eighties and nineties. Pizza and fries served to the juniors through a hatch at the back of the clubhouse; ham and cheese toasties galore; the meal ticket after a county match that got you a plate of ham, egg and chips; sausage, chips and peas served by ‘fat Barbara’; Mac the cigar-smoking chef puffing away at the deep fat fryer; fish and chip dinners perched on your lap outside the clubhouse; ham rolls wrapped in clingfilm from the bar because the kitchen’s closed; one more cheese toastie before heading out for a third round of the day in the school holidays… These are the meals (and the memories) that created a generation of British golfers.

The liquid lunch

Golf and alcohol go back a long way, perhaps unsurprisingly given the game’s Scottish roots. It’s not a coincidence that the trophy for winning The Open Championship remains a Claret Jug – and many of that championship’s winners have enjoyed a victory tipple from the famous trophy. Get a hole-in-one, and you’re expected to buy a drink for everyone in the clubhouse. Make an ace at Augusta National and you pay for the wine at every table in the dining room – which given the club’s world-class cellar, could put a serious dent in your bank balance. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, authors of the original rules of golf and proud custodians of the links at Muirfield, have been described as a drinking club that happens to own a world-class golf course. But the favourite item on our liquid lunch menu is the Pink Jug served at Royal Worlington & Newmarket – a truly unique concoction of lemon, ice, champagne, Benedictine, brandy and Pimms. According to the club website, the drink “has traditionally been enjoyed by members and visitors alike at the start or end of a round,” – which given that the club’s nine holes can be comfortably navigated in little more than an hour, creates a barely enough time to sober up between rounds.