One of the things that I love to do is to play golf and one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a day is going with friends to play in events around Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire and to enjoy the hospitality of other clubs.
One of the key factors in any great day out is the quality of the catering and the excellence of the food. Some of the events that we always return to are the ones where the golf clubs have chefs who have serious reputations for fine dining. Even in a buffet style lunch, the quality and creativity of the food are exceptional. In these cases, we wait anxiously for the entry forms to come out and so we can get our meal booked before the event fills up! Certain places like Foxhills near Guildford in Surrey, we enter because the course suits us, however, in almost every other case, it’s the restaurant which is the deciding factor.
Another less competitive way to spend a days golfing is to take a party on a society outing. When there are more than 10 of us, it’s great fun to get group rates and have our own informal competition either preceded by bacon sandwiches or followed up with afternoon tea! We’ve eaten some wonderful afternoon teas. Some of the smaller clubs, in particular, specialise in gorgeous WI style cakes – just the thing for recharging the batteries while we wait for the rush hour traffic to subside.
I have to admit to being quite scathing about some aspects of golf club life; there is a certain amount of snobbery which I find from time to time really winds me up! However, the hospitality and catering staff are certainly one aspect of club life which is universally appreciated by everyone who experiences it. And as we say in our thank you speeches (well not me personally you understand, just the winners:-) everyone is important, from the waitresses and bar staff we meet to the chefs and porters tucked away in the kitchens.
As golf is a minimum of four hours in the company of the same three people, one of the other really nice things about dining after an open event is taking the opportunity not only to meet new people, but also to catch up with old friends. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a county dinner recently and found myself seated in the restaurant next to someone I used to play golf with 15 years ago, and hadn’t seen in almost as long. We had a good catch-up and agreed not to leave it as long next time!
From that point of view, it always surprises me the convention at matches is that you eat with the people you’ve just played with. What a missed opportunity to break bread with someone new and enjoy some different conversations with your (4 pm) lunch!
So this year’s applications are well under way. There will be some old clubs revisited, some dropped off the list due to a change in chef or catering staff and some new ones to try on the recommendation of other similarly foodie golfers. All in all, it’s a good job we have the 7 mile walk to pique the appetite for lunch and help burn off some of the calories from the “coffee and danish on arrival”!