Reporting Jay Lloyd
If your best friend, discussing your best round of golf, says, “He tries,” you’ll want to find something else to enhance the golfing experience. With me, it’s food and the bar. So, when picking a public course for the next round, it’s the clubhouse eatery that seals the deal. Here are some of the go-to spots for wielding a niblick and grabbing a nosh. – Jay Lloyd
The Reading Country Club and its castle-like clubhouse were built by railroad barons to mix and mingle with the big money that powered eastern Pennsylvania’s vast manufacturing industry. Today, it’s a public course owned and operated by Exeter Township. While the course is what you’d expect based on its origins, the eatery, Castle Grille, takes golf course restaurants into the realm of fine dining. You’ll find posh surroundings, ultra comfortable seating and a kitchen that covers the bases — from deli to delicately sauced entrees. While soups change daily, the shrimp bisque was one knockout. At lunch, the corned beef on marbled rye was New York quality and at dinner, the lamb chops, ecstasy. This is a golf course restaurant that draws a loyal following for the dining experience.
The Farm House Restaurant at the Skippack Golf Club began generating a lot of buzz last season after being discovered by the dining crowd that hangs at neighboring Skippack Village. Set in the Evansburg State Park, the Farm House lends the public course a feeling of rural elegance. The restaurant embraces a popular happy hour bar, period dining room and a pair of outdoor patios, one overlooking the 18th green. For lunch, you can’t go wrong with the meatloaf or a burger. Dinner rings my bell with short ribs. My wife Mary is a sucker for the salmon.
Spring Hollow Golf Club embraces The Grille, another of those golf eateries that draws a dedicated local crowd for its ambience and food, especially on warm weather days and evenings. The outdoor patio offers a golf course view with well-tended fairways rolling to the horizon. The lunch menu is balanced between salads and seafood, red meat favorites and 19th hole nibbles. Prime rib sandwiches are frequently offered as “specials,” and I can’t resist them. Evenings find a comfort food collection crowding the dinner menu ranging from shepherd’s pie and chicken parm to fried shrimp and salmon. Thursday nights produce an Italian feast.
Champs at the Skippack Golf Club is a classically decorated sports bar with a golfing tilt. During the day, you find lunching golfers. At happy hour and by evening, the “boys-and-gals-night-out” crowd settles in for a good beer selection and the mega-pub menu that runs from burgers to baskets. My lunch favorite is the fried chicken basket, which is stuffed with half a chicken and some pretty good fries and a container of cole slaw on the side. For nibbles, the onion rings are the ticket. The outdoor patio is a relaxing spot to watch the daylight fade.
Despite the name, Springfield is a public course with a restaurant that sustains a local following and offers an ambitious menu. Lunch serves up both the familiar and the contemporary. There’s a range of temptations from paninis to pizza, as well as healthy salads, red meat sliders and a credible fish and chips. Tavola’s restaurant takes on a decided Italian flavor by dinnertime. Traditional pasta dishes compete for attention with a generous filet and a fork-tender plate of short ribs. There’s outdoor patio seating overlooking the golf course and live entertainment Wednesday through Saturdays.
Any of these favorites are ideal for a late afternoon round of golf and then dinner dates for happy hour and an early supper.