Before hot dog lovers from around the world start leaving me hate-mail, let me get one thing straight — I love a beer and a hot dog at the turn too. There is something satisfying about a dirty ‘dog’ on the golf course. The problem is, I don’t want a hot dog every time I play golf, and a soggy sandwich that has been sitting in the fridge for too long isn’t an appealing alternative.
It extends far beyond a matter of preference. Food allergies are as common as ever, particularly with gluten and dairy. It is unusual to go to a restaurant these days and not find allergy friendly alternatives. Yet at so many golf courses, there are very limited options at the turn for people with allergies.
Allergies aside, more and more people are looking to make healthier choices when it comes to their diet. Golfers are becoming fitter and living healthier lifestyles, and need healthy food to maintain that lifestyle. It’s a shame for people to make the effort to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise by playing 18 holes, yet take a step backward in regards to their health because of the limited food options offered at the golf course.
Beth and I are very fortunate that our home club is ahead of the curve with food at the halfway hut. We do our best to eat healthy, and luckily we don’t have to sacrifice a healthy lifestyle to grab lunch during a round of golf when we play at our home course. Beth has mild gluten and dairy sensitivities, so having options for good food at the turn means a great deal.
I’m not just going to rant about it and expect things to change, I’m going to make some suggestions. If I owned a golf course, I would view this as a great and relatively simple way to separate my golf course from the course down the road. Here is what I would do:
- Post a menu on the 9th tee and make food to order. I think you’d be surprised how many people, who hadn’t planned on eating at the turn, would order food once they see an enticing menu. If it is not practical to install a phone that rings the halfway hut, I would make an exception to my “no talking on cell phones” rule on the 9th tee so people can order food. One person can call while others tee off. This will speed things up when making the turn since the food will be ready to go.
- Offer gluten-free options.
- Gluten-free bread – this can be kept in the freezer and defrosted when someone makes the request, since we’re already setting ourselves apart by making food to order.
- Sandwich in a cup – loaded up with ingredients that could be found in a sandwich, minus the bread.
- Soup of the day – everyone loves soup, and it’s relatively cheap to make. Particularly here in Canada, there are a lot of cool days where soup hits the spot. The soup of the day will be a money maker.
- Offer healthier protein options. Housemade burgers and canned salmon or tuna are just a couple of suggestions.
- Personalized options. Since food is being made to order, it gives the customer the option to customize their order. If someone doesn’t want mayo or butter, they’ll have that option. If they want extra pickles, they’ll get those too. It’s amazing how a little personalization makes a customer feel valued.
- Healthy snacks. I’m not suggesting to get rid of chips, chocolate bars, and muffins. However, there should always be healthier alternatives too. Fruit and/or veggie cups, protein bars, and nuts are just a few suggestions.
I can already hear the skepticism of golf course operators — extra work, extra planning, not worth it when the numbers are crunched in the spreadsheet. It’s an all too common theme — figure out how to do as little as possible while charging as much as possible. It’s frustrating to pay good money to play golf and be underwhelmed by the service and not be able to grab healthy food at the turn.
I don’t know about you, but if I ran a golf course, I would rather stay ahead of the curve than be stuck behind it. Let’s spread the word and start expecting the level of service we deserve for our hard earned money. I’m not saying I will always pass on the hot dog, but it’s nice to have the option.