The secret to making Pinehurst’s mouth-watering barbecue ribs, according to the resort’s pitmaster

Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.


You can play nine different courses (including a U.S. Open venue) at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, plus a Gil Hanse–designed short track and 18-hole putting layout.

With delectable post-round smokehouse selections like the out-of-this-world Railroad Ribs, the grub may be just as memorable as the golf.

Pinehurst Brewing Company, situated just a short walk from the resort grounds, opened in 2018. The building — an old steam plant that dates back to 1895 — was renovated to include a smokehouse and a greenhouse to accommodate the on-site brewery and restaurant. And boy oh boy do they deliver.

a spoon of barbecue sauce dripping on a platter of spare ribs
The secret to making perfect barbecue sauce, according to a golf-club chef
By: Josh Sens

On Mondays and Tuesdays resort guests and locals alike can enjoy a rack of baby back ribs ($17 for a half, $27 for a full) that have been oak- and hickory-smoked at 215 degrees for five-and-a-half hours by Pinehurst pitmaster Benjamin Ayala.

The meat is lovingly looked after, receiving an hourly apple-juice bath throughout the smoking process. It’s the slow and steady attention to detail, says Ayala, that really sets these ribs apart. Well, that, and the house rub recipe, which includes such varied ingredients as chili powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, brown sugar, fried mustard, garlic powder, granulated onion and cayenne pepper.

The house-made sauce, which is prepared cold, includes a mixture of ketchup, honey, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, apple juice and molasses. Thirty minutes before the ribs are done smoking, they’re slathered with the house sauce. Diners receive an additional helping of the sticky goodness on the side.

While Pinehurst Brewing Company serves the baby backs for dinner only two days a week, the shorter hours certainly don’t diminish demand. According to Ayala, nearly 350 racks are consumed each month. And as for the other five days? Well, there’s smoked wings, brisket, pork butt and more. The key is to stay long enough to try them all.

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As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on