There is no such thing as a bad day on the golf course. There is no such thing as a bad beer. I grant you that in both cases some are better than others. But in both cases the experience is mostly about the people that you are with as much as where you are.
When you are fortunate enough to couple great golf with good friends, well, the beer seems inevitable. Great golf venues are famous for their 19th holes. If the walls in some of the game’s most famous venues could talk…oh the stories they could tell. But there are always hidden gems along the way. Whether it is a great golf course or a tucked away little beer joint there is nothing wrong with stepping off the beaten path just a bit. You will be glad you did.
Visitors to Pinehurst will tell you about the Ryder Cup Lounge, the 92st Hole and the Pinecrest Inn. There is no question that these are wonderful spots to enjoy a post round pint. But most visitors have never heard of Maxie’s Grill & Tap Room. If you are looking for a spot to have a drink and watch the game you can’t go wrong at Maxie’s. The beautiful thing about Maxie’s is that for a discreetly folded bill the resort transportation will drop you there and pick you up.
The Tap Room at Pebble Beach is as iconic as any American golf watering hole. There may be no better spot in the world to take your beer from the bar out onto the back porch of the lodge and look over the 18th green out into Stillwater Cove. But have you ever heard of the Britania Arms in Monterrey or the Crown and Anchor just down the block. Most folks looking for what passes for a dive bar in the area stop by the Hog’s Breath or Jack London’s over in Carmel and who can blame them. Sitting by the fire pits at Hog’s Breath is about as good as it gets. If you are like me then you know there is no bad place for a post-round beer, but sometimes you want to get completely away from it all.
When you are looking for a spot away from the tourists to sip a beer and take in the local scene you have to slip away. The concierge may not point you in the right direction but there are always folks on property that will, whether you’re at Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes or any of the other iconic golf spots in North America.
If you happen to be at one of those places where caddies are still part of the culture then look no further. You’ve found your man. Otherwise, ask an assistant pro or one of the other guys or gals on property who work for a living. They socialize somewhere and I can assure you it isn’t where the beers are $8 apiece.
Some of my favorite spots at great destinations are more a part of the local scene than others. If you are fortunate enough to stay and play at the TPC Sawgrass head right out of the gate and go to Pussers Caribbean Grill, sit outside upstairs and if you are lucky someone will be playing acoustic guitar and singing. If you want to get a little further away than that head north on A1A toward Jacksonville Beach. They have the full complement of beach bars and flip flop joints.
Hilton Head offers some of the same. The beach bar at the hotel at the end of Pope Road is as good as any you’ll find. It is right outside the south gate at Sea Pines and sits right on the edge of the beach. There are plenty of other little hide-aways on Hilton Head. For example, Aunt Chilladas has a large bar and incredible chips and salsa.
If you’re on St. Simons Island staying at the Sea Island Club count your blessings. However if tacos and beer are what you are hankering for head to Bubba Garcia’s or one of the other little local spots just up the street. You won’t be disappointed.
We go to bars and golf course for the same reasons. We go for the people and the experience. Granted there are many who use golf as an excuse to drink outdoors during the day… and is a darn good excuse. But most of us who enjoy the bar experience use golf as a way to generate our thirst before we get to the purely social aspect of the day.
Everywhere you go in the United States there are the same big chain restaurants serving the same food in Detroit that they serve in Miami. As a constant traveler there Is some comfort in that. But there is nothing like the locally owned and operated spot where the owner tends to everything and instills pride in all of the employees. There is still pride and ownership in the little haunts and the difference is noticeable.
Try the local brew and enjoy the local fair. When you get home from one of the great golf destinations you will certainly talk about the golf. You’ll talk about the accommodations, (if they are memorable). But at some point you will talk about the little beer joint that you and your friends found where the beer was served with a smile and the food was made with care and that is what a dive bar really is. It’s not a dingy little spot where the glasses aren’t clean. It is a spot to get away from it all. And there is nothing better on a trip than getting away from it all while you are already getting away from it all.
John Maginnes played the PGA Tour from 1996 to 2005 and very few people noticed. Since 2004 John has been a broadcaster and writer for a variety of different outlets. Currently John host’s Maginnes on Tap weekday evenings SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. He also contributes to the live coverage of PGA Tour events. Most recently he has become a contributor to Back9Network and brings his knowledge of the game, his wit and his pension for 19th holes to our members.
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