Royal Golf bar

My Top Ten 19th Holes

A few years ago I received a phone call from the editor of Golf Insider who requested that I write a column for the publication. Musing that it would be something along the lines of overseas golf courses, course design, golf travel or such, I waited to hear the subject. “19th holes”, he said. “You are more qualified than anyone else I know to recommend where to drink in celebration or consolation of a round of golf.”

Well, practice does make perfect. My credentials established, I proceeded to give the following ten in no particular order.

The Bar of the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch, Scotland

Pine floors covered with Persian carpets, soft leather chairs, roaring fireplace, extensive collection of single malts, bag tags above the bar. There is no better place than here to savor a round at Royal Dornoch. Just ask  Mike Gary, Steve Perry, Pat Walsh & Rusty Bowen from Chagrin Valley Golf Club.

Royal Golf HotelRoyal Golf Hotel

Royal Golf Hotel Lounge

The Clubhouse Bar at Waterville Golf Links, Ireland

Golf began in the Waterville area as the recreational pursuit of the workers at the nearby Irish terminus of the transatlantic cable from America. The location is also the terminus of occasional bone chilling winds coming across from the North Atlantic. Hence the reason for a post round visit to the bar–the best hot toddy anywhere.

The Clubhouse of Royal Liverpool Golf Club, England

The reason I love to visit the Hoylake clubhouse after a round isn’t the view or a particular specialty drink, it’s the members who are amongst the friendliest and most welcoming in England. Listen to PGA professional Todd Firestone from Fort Wayne Country Club describe how the RLGC club captain hosted his Fort Wayne/Sycamore Hills group after Ray Dusman’s first ever hole-in-one on the 7th.

Royal Liverpool Hoylake

Veinteeocho at Almanara Golf Club, Spain

Yes, I know “veinteeocho” is Spanish for 28 not 19. That’s because Almanara has 27 holes. Image if sitting on the Veinteeocho terrace pictured below you could see Valderrama, the Mediterranean and, in the evening, the lights of Tangiers across the water. You can. Now add a glass of superb rioja and a bowl of the local olives. Perfection!

Almanara Veinteeocho


The Smoking Room, Muirfield, Scotland

Ever wonder what’s inside that glass enclosed room that juts out from the iconic Muirfield clubhouse? The answer is the original oil portraits of Muirfield captains the copies of which appear in other clubhouses throughout the golfing world and the best place to sip an adult beverage in East Lothian. So good that my best day ever at Muirfield consisted of more time in the Smoking Room than on the course.

Muirfield ClubhouseMuirfield Smoking Room

The Clubhouse Terrace at Old Head Golf Links, Ireland

On a clear day, the view from this terrace out across the 18th and 17th greens, past the lighthouse to the point in the seas where the Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine during WWI. The latter factoid leads to the Old Head version of a breathalyzer for those golfers whom the staff suspects have lingered too long over too many drinks. “When the Lusitania sank, where did they bury the survivors?” they ask. If you even try to answer, they cut you off.

Old Head Golf Links

The Clubhouse Terrace at Sunningdale Golf Club, England

Sunningdale is the quintessential English Club and as close to Augusta National as any club in the British Isles. Golf is the only thing that matters at Sunningdale. Alistair Tate, Golfweek.

Oh yes, veddy, veddy English. Quite! Which means as you relax under one of the umbrella shaded tables gazing across the 1st and 18th holes, you best order a “Pimm’s & lemonade” or a “G&T, ice and a slice” lest someone think you don’t belong there.

Sunningdale Golf Club


The Dunvegan, St. Andrews

After a round on the Old Course, everyone who’s anyone treats their caddie to a pint at the Dunvegan and so do most nobodies who are in the know about local customs. The Golf Channel calls it one of the best hang outs in the world of golf. But don’t just hang out, act like this guy who strolled in off the course and asked if he could have his picture taken with the famous proprietress, Sheena Willoughby.

Dunvegan St. Andrews


The Club Room at the Stoke Park Club, England

For those of a certain age who always wanted to know where the golf match between Bond and Goldfinger was filmed, here it is. The H. S. Colt course at the Stoke Park Club just outside London in Stoke Pogues. The magnificent clubhouse in the background wasn’t a moving prop. It really exists and it’s every bit as impressive on the inside. The club room which is perfect for a post round libation is in the wing on the right hand side of the photograph just above the caddy’s head.

Stoke Park House


Ben’s Porch at the Sand Hills Golf Club, Nebraska

While my Top Ten was supposed to be devoted exclusively to places overseas, I managed to sneak in my absolute favorite spot in the States. If you think you are going to do anything other than play golf when you journey to the Sand Hills, let’s hope you brought lots of reading material because that and golf is all there is besides eating and drinking of course. In the morning after breakfast, you take your golf cart out about a mile to Ben’s Porch which sits above the 9th and 18th greens and your day begins. In between rounds are incredibly tasty burgers grilled by the starter and local rancher, Tom Simonson. I would tell you the source of the secret rub he sprinkles on the burgers but then I’d have to…well, you know.

Bens Porch Sand Hills Golf ClubSand Hills Golf Club

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5 Responses to My Top Ten 19th Holes

  1. FatGuy says:

    Good choices all around! Love the Bond reference at Stoke Park.

  2. Pingback: The Best of the Good Life in St. Andrews | Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions

  3. Sean Convery says:

    What? No mention of the pub at the Cliff House Hotel in ballybunion? a must stop if your playing there.

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