arrow-right cart chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up close menu minus play plus search share user email pinterest facebook instagram snapchat tumblr twitter vimeo youtube subscribe dogecoin dwolla forbrugsforeningen litecoin amazon_payments american_express bitcoin cirrus discover fancy interac jcb master paypal stripe visa diners_club dankort maestro trash

The perfect half-way house

Cold beers, cosy rooms and ketchup in a bottle – Jon Davie breaks down the details that make up the perfect half-way house.

The perfect half-way house

Before it was the name of a Weatherspoon’s in Leicester Square, The Moon Under Water was the title of a famous essay by George Orwell.

The headline refers to an imaginary destination – an idealised version of a traditional English pub, combining all the things Orwell felt made up the perfect public house, from a stuffed bull’s head over the mantlepiece to a hidden garden with “swings and a chute for the children.”

Orwell wasn’t really a fan of golf, preferring to expiate the guilt over his middle-class upbringing by living among the downtrodden proletariat of Europe. So it’s with due deference to one of the great masters of the English language that we borrow the idea of The Moon Under Water, and present our vision for another great British institution – the golf club half-way house.

The perfect half-way house should come at the far end of the course, some distance from the clubhouse. Unfortunately this rules out most courses with two loops that return to the clubhouse, including the otherwise excellent Royal Birkdale (and it’s legendary bacon ‘flaguette’, or the lovely art-deco miniature clubhouse at Castle Stuart.

If the club is lucky enough to host more than 18 holes, the half-way house should sit near the mid-point of both courses, offering golfers an opportunity to exchange pleasantries with other groups as they pass through – the log-cabin styled hut at The Berkshire providing a perfect example.

Orwell dismissed golf as “an inherently snobbish game”, but the perfect halfway house should be a simple affair. We do not want to compete with the clubhouse for comfort or amenities, which alas must rule out the iconic lighthouse at Turnberry – undoubtedly a spectacular location, but too fancy by far, and too long a detour between the ninth green and tenth tee to boot.

Our ideal stop off point should, however, provide the golfer with a view. The modernist glass and timber structure at the Renaissance Club enjoys a spectacular vista over the Firth of Forth, but simple pleasure can also be derived from watching the groups behind tackle the hole you’ve just played. The famous hut at Sunningdale is perhaps the perfect archetype here – the building comes into view as soon as you step on the tenth tee of the Old, and you get a perfect view of the green as you tuck into your sausage sandwich.

Our concern here is with the golf courses of the British Isles, so we must take due consideration to the vagaries of the weather. We need a place to sit outside when the sun is shining – simple picnic tables will suffice, like those found at Swinley Forest or The Addington. But we may also need to take shelter from the wind and rain – an open fire, like that found in The Bothy at Nairn, is the perfect way to warm our cockles before we tackle the back nine.

Having established the perfect location, our attention turns to the menu. We can expect the classics – sausage rolls and bacon sandwiches, with red and brown sauce (in bottles, not irritating little sachets). A soup of the day, and perhaps a slice of homemade cake for the sweet of tooth.

We will, of course, need some liquid refreshment to wash down our food. There aren’t many sports where the consumption of alcohol during play is actively encouraged, and a touch of swing oil can be just the thing to lubricate the player as we head into the back nine. While a cold beer will do the job on a summer’s day, we may need something stronger in adverse conditions – we’re particularly partial to the the Shovril in the hut at Deal or Sandwich: a hot cup of Bovril laced with a generous dash of dry sherry.

Suitably fortified, we must settle up before we play on. Having already left clubs by the next tee, we don’t want to faff around trying to find a wallet or a phone – the perfect club allows us to add everything to a member account, or simply to run a tab for the day.

Orwell had very specific views about the staff at The Moon Under Water. “They are all middle-aged women,” he wrote. “Two of them have their hair dyed in quite surprising shades, and they call everyone dear, irrespective of age or sex.”  Times have changed, and we wouldn’t want to comment on the appearance of the staff. But a friendly face and some gentle banter about the state of the match will see us emerge for the back nine with a full stomach and a smile on our face.

So where might we find this perfect establishment? Readers will have their own personal favourites, but for us, the ideal half-way house can be found behind the seventh green at West Byfleet Golf Club. Part greasy spoon and part dive bar, it provides a cosy indoor space that’s just big enough to host one group at a time, an eclectic menu on a hand-written blackboard, a surprisingly comprehensive bar selection and a picnic table with a view of drivable par four eighth. Perfect.

Sign up to Sounder

Subscribe for exclusive offers, content and products