Monday, December 7, 2015

Golf Travel Guru's Top 5 Favorite Pubs

For the GT Guru, the only thing better than crushing a drive down the middle of the fairway on the first hole on a dew busting morning is savoring the first sip of hops and barley after the round at one of my favorite pubs.

Luckily my travels have introduced me to some amazing pubs. While I've consumed enough beer at these places to consider myself somewhat of an expert, fact is, my choices are totally subjective. My selections are based on fairly innocuous factors like the friendliness of the clientele and bartender, whether somebody bought me a beer for being an amiable guy and if my fries or chips were hot. 

That said, here are five of my favorite pubs:

1. McDonnells (Bellmullet, Ireland)--The nickname for this cozy pub teeming with locals is "The Lobster Pot" (because once you go in, you never come out). It's located a couple of doors down from the Talbot Hotel on Barrack Street, where I stayed on my visit to play Carne Golf Links. I sauntered into McDonnell's one night and, yes, I did make it out, but just barely. The locals are a friendly bunch and there's a great selection of beers and ales. 

2. Hargadon Bros. (Sligo, Ireland)--I just love the live, toe-tapping Irish music in this place. Sligo is one of the live music capitals of Ireland and Hargadon's had a fantastic group performing the night I was there following a round of golf at The County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point. The superb pub menu includes a steak sandwich, Bangers and Mash and the "Homemade Irish Beef Burger." There's also a Hargadon's in Dublin.

3. Mr. B's Lounge at Pinecrest Inn (Pinehurst, NC)--Donald Ross once owned this place and after a brew or two you might feel like you're in Scotland. There are photos of Mr. Ross on the wall and the Barrett family, who've owned Mr. B's for more than 40 years, make everyone feel welcome. It's been voted the best 19th hole in America by several websites and publications and I heartily agree with them.

4. Original Irish Pub (Atlantic City, New Jersey)-A long-time fixture in Atlantic City a block or so from the Boardwalk, this places oozes with history. The walls are dotted with classic black and white boxing and baseball photos and if owner Cathy Burke is around she'll show you the booth were Joe DiMaggio always dined back in the day.  Better still, just like at the Masters where concession prices are circa 1980, this place has the same approach. For lunch, you can get burgers and sandwiches for under $5. 

5. Golfer's Corner Lounge Bar at the Dunvegan Hotel (St. Andrews, Scotland)--The classic Yogi Berra line, "It's so crowded, nobody goes there anymore" could well describe this St. Andrews favorite. While it's a bit touristy and usually teeming with Americans, I still love this place. Dubbed "The Dunny" by locals, the bar is situated just 112 yards from the 18th green of the Old Course.  Jack Willoughby, a fourth generation Texan and his wife, Sheena, own the Dunvegan. The ambiance is a combination of traditional Scottish pub, Texas roadhouse and college bar. Several Old Course caddies hang out there and if you're lucky you'll sit next to one of them at the bar, like I've done, and hear all sorts of great stories--especially about goofy Americans. The menu has a sports bar flair with burgers, wings, fish and chips and American style chili.