Opinions are like putters: every golfer’s got one. Toss out a topic — Jack vs. Tiger, Pine Valley vs. Cypress Point, TaylorMade vs. Titleist — and brace for a debate. Alas, do we dare nominate golf’s greatest burgers? We do. In our opinion, these nine patties, all served at courses that you can play, are particularly well done. Make the case for your own favorite clubhouse burger in the comments section below.
Halfway House Burger, Telluride Golf Club ($14)
The air is thin but the burger isn’t. Not at the halfway house at this scenic course, which sits way up in the Colorado Rockies, at nearly 10,000 feet. The beef is local, grass-fed and organic, and the fresh garnishes—pickles, onions, tomatoes and cheddar—lift the flavors to a whole other level.
CAB Burger, The Prairie Club ($12)
Here in the heartland, where pasture rolls out endlessly in all directions, the cattle graze on golden grasses, and the golfers feast on you-know-what. CAB stands for certified Angus beef, but nothing else is left to interpretation. This burger shows up just as it’s depicted on the menu, laden with butter lettuce, vine-ripened tomato, red onion, bacon and cheddar cheese, its flavors as pure as the prairie itself.
The Bagger Burger, The Ocean Course at Kiawah ($17)
Kiawah Island, S.C.
The Legend of Bagger Vance is a fictional story, but here’s a fact: Parts of the 2000 film were shot at the Ocean Course. This burly burger takes its name from the movie’s title character and it’s a beauty, starring grilled black Angus beef, smoked cheddar and peppered bacon on a potato roll. It shines on the menu at the Ryder Cup Bar, a clubhouse hangout with coastal views that are almost as tasty as the Bagger.
The Fairway Lamb Burger, The Omni Homestead Resort ($16)
Hot Springs, Va.
Mary had a little lamb, but she also had a little girly appetite. The rest of us want a lotta lamb, and that’s what this delectable item delivers in a generous patty of Virginia-raised meat. It’s cooked to perfection, topped with cambozola cheese, smoked bacon and caramelized onions, then bedded on toasted ciabatta.
The Burger Dog, Silverado Resort & Spa ($9)
Of all the burgers across the game, none is more beloved than the burger dog at the Olympic Club, a beautifully simple specialty of grilled ground beef on a hot dog bun. Trouble is, the Olympic Club is private, its delicacy reserved for a select few. Not so at Silverado, which is open to resort guests and sells—get this—the very same burger, from a snack shack run by the same family that griddles beef at the Olympic Club. Here, as there, the preparation is straightforward: the meat, seasoned only with salt and pepper, is set to sear without butter or oil, so that the outside chars and the inside stays juicy. The time-honored toppings are mustard, onions, dill pickles, relish and American cheese, though heathens can have ketchup, if they insist.
Maui Mush Swiss Burger, Puakea Golf Club ($12)
Have no fear. “Mush” does not refer to the texture of the burger. It’s short for mushrooms, which are sautéed and slathered, along with onions and melted Swiss cheese, over a 1/3-pound patty of Kauai-raised beef.
Toro Toro Burger, TPC Scottsdale ($16)
The old clubhouse grill at the TPC was recently reborn as the Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar. Sexier name, plus a spicier signature burger to match. Composed of house-ground chuck, and topped with bacon, Oaxaca cheese, chipotle mayo and guacamole, it’s a red-blooded classic with a Latin kick.
Patty Melt, Bali Hai Golf Club ($14)
Take a deep breath, and maybe an extra Lipitor, before taking on this post-round mound of cholesterol-rich goodness, built around a half-pound of ground Kobe beef, topped with cheddar cheese, avocado and caramelized onions. What happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas, but you should probably keep it from your cardiologist.
The Texas Burger, Blue Heron Pines Golf Course ($13)
Egg Harbor City, N.J.
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski owns Blue Heron Pines, and his clubhouse restaurant, 7 Tap & Tavern, offers an all-pro burger lineup. We’re partial to the Texas burger, a juicy hunk of angus beef smothered in cheddar, bacon, and homemade BBQ sauce, topped with a trio of steak-cut beer battered onion rings. But you may opt for the Draft Burger ($12), which plucks a page from the NFL. Instead of drafting players, you draft toppings, which range from pickles and jalapeños to sautéed spinach and pizza sauce. It’s hard to go wrong with a talent pool this deep.
Josh Sens is a contributing writer and the chief restaurant critic for San Francisco Magazine.