Maybe it's the way a cold beer soothes your throat after 36 holes, or how a room of tartan and wood somehow eases the pain of your 102. Maybe it's the bartender who knows your drink, or it's the one place you can discuss your round without the person next to you glazing over ... probably.
Whatever the reason, when the last putt drops, golfers never seem to ask, "What do we do now?" The 19th hole is as much a part of golf as the previous 18. It's the place where you settle up the nassau. Or order the 25-year-old Speyside whiskey because that lucky so-and-so aced the fifth hole, and he's buying.
With that in mind, our "experts" canvassed the country looking for the best 19th holes. What they found is that what makes a golf bar great could be anything from spike marks still on the floor to views of the Pacific, or that Demaret used to drink there, sans clothes. But one thing they all have in common is that golfers ofen would rather spend time there than in their own home.
* OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
COCONUT CREEK, FLA.
The cast here is "New York South," and the gang smokes cigars, talks loud and makes big bets and biting jokes at the expense of other members; the bar is "first-rate," with flat-screen TVs and "classy stools."
Part of the Legends Resort; it's "the epi-center" of the Myrtle Beach golf experience; roomy but usually jammed with "fat guys from Delaware on a golf getaway"; it's a "scene," with golfers of all shapes and sizes "who don't have a curfew"; tons of beer and good burgers.
ARCADIA BLUFFS G.C.*
At the Sunset Grill, perched above the 18th, it appears you can see "all the way across Lake Michigan to Whistling Straits."
ATLANTIC CITY C.C.*
Built in the early 1900s and affiliated with Harrah's, it still has original tongue-and-groove flooring, complete with spike marks; "great bay views."
"It's Hollywood without the ego"; bar overlooks the city and the course's famous Swinging Bridge; on any given day, sidle up next to Hollywood personalities such as Craig T. Nelson and Luke Wilson, or sit at the Smart Table, so named by former CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian because "everybody who sits there thinks they have the answer to everything."
BURNING TREE C.
Classic dark-wood bar with brass foot-rail; cartoons of Washington elite are stationed on the only wall without windows -- "like Sardi's, only better caricatures."
CARNEGIE ABBEY C.
Wraparound bar is perfect for "mocking the foursome your group just beat"; bartender Steve Healy is "right out of central casting"; unreal scotch collection; ask for a shot of "swing juice," Healy's vodka concoction for bad rounds.
CASTLE PINES G.C.
CASTLE ROCK, COLO.
Tom Horal, the locker-room guy, will remember your name and your drink after one meeting; the chairs are "nap city," especially beside the fireplace; the milkshakes are "sinful" and the view of Pikes Peak spectacular.
Sit back and listen to Jackie Burke tell stories, especially the one about Jimmy Demaret at the bar in his birthday suit; the bar inside the locker room is three-sided to allow for "cross-counter shouting matches"; wood paneling is a "throwback to the country-club days of the 1960s."
Locker-room bar with "really old" furniture and "enough wood to start the next Great Chicago Fire"; sit at the "big table" in the middle; staff wears semi-formal attire, "classy"; "feels like an old rec-room where you can hide from a nagging spouse."
COG HILL G. & C.C.*
Dub's Pub, downstairs in the clubhouse, is "cleaner and brighter" after a recent face-lift but still has a history as an old hangout for tour pros playing the Western Open, Chicago mobsters and even Evel Knievel; rectangular bar with granite counter; room decorated with photos of past tournament champs.
THE COUNTRY CLUB
Locker-room bar "looks like a law-firm library"; "history on the walls mirrors the history of golf in the U.S."; order Fernando's rum punch.
EDGEWOOD TAHOE G. CSE.*
"Brooks" bar and deck provides postcard views of the course, Lake Tahoe and snow-capped Sierras; room is airy, with high ceiling, big windows and plenty of TVs.
Mansion has an Old South feel; the service is "Southern hospitality at its best"; the course has an affiliation with the Beau Rivage casino; overlooks the closing hole; booze/wine selections are "impressive."
FLINT HILLS NATL. G.C.
The smell of freshly popped corn is constant; two antique M&M dispensers (plain and peanut) are popular with members; "great service"; stocked cigar humidor.
GARDEN CITY G.C.
GARDEN CITY, N.Y.
Jackets are required here (though one member once stepped out of the shower and put only his jacket on before grabbing a drink); lively members; classic, country-club look with great memorabilia; "it's like a fraternity house"; traditional bar with brass foot-rails; "there's a great feel to the whole place."
GRANITE LINKS G.C.*
Picture the hit TV show "Cheers" (only Cliff and Norm play golf); "devoted Boston sports fans" drink next to local sports legends Bill Russell, Luis Tiant and Ray Bourque; impressive view of the city; be prepared to defend any statement you make about golf, sports or life in general to a complete stranger.
"Phil's Grill" is half sports bar, half shrine to Mickelson; known throughout the area as "a place to go for a good poker game"; hardwood bar surrounded by TVs; comfy leather couches.
"This is what a 15-year-old boy would design if he had $20 million"; there's a basketball court and an arcade next to the bar, and "often more TVs than patrons"; rub elbows with Tiger Woods and friends.
LA JOLLA (CALIF.) C.C.
"If there's a better view anywhere, show it to me"; the Traditions Room overlooks the town, the Pacific Ocean and the nearby cliffs at Torrey Pines; a classic dark-wood bar with tartan carpet and memorabilia, mostly dedicated to U.S. Open/U.S. Amateur winner Gene Littler, a former member.
The 19th hole for John Wayne, Dean Martin and Ronald Reagan now serves Joe Pesci, Jack Nicholson and Sylvester Stallone; says member/comedian Tom Dreesen: "The best way to decide if you want to join a club is, after the round are you excited about going inside? Lakeside is a good club to go inside."
LATROBE (PA.) C.C.
Only here can you get the full Arnold Palmer experience. Feels like walking downstairs in a split-level house to a sunken living room; "like Arnie's basement"; Palmer memorabilia everywhere; with luck, you might even sip an "Arnold Palmer" next to the King himself.
THE LINKS CLUB
NEW YORK CITY
"Unique"; a golf club in Midtown Manhattan founded by C.B. Macdonald and friends; the long, narrow, oak-paneled bar is known as Moore's Bowling Alley, after the brothers who paid for it; more than 100 liquor lockers are secreted in the walls from its Prohibition past; boxing prints, a backgammon board and the smell of old scotch.
SANTA ROSA, CALIF.
You have to visit the "wine grotto," which connects with a patio overlooking the 18th green; has temperature-controlled storage lockers for members; "name a bottle of wine, and chances are someone has it there."
HOBE SOUND, FLA.
Nearly the entire clubhouse is the bar, and founder Greg Norman "pops in every now and then"; mounted in the room is a 1,083-pound shark Norman caught.
Drink at the patio bar, "but it's so close to the first tee, don't hiccup" after a sip from one of the chilled ceramic mugs; the liter-size mugs are kept at 32 degrees until your favorite beer is poured.
RIVER HILLS, WIS.
"What a 19th hole is supposed to look like"; high ceiling, great wooden tables, leather chairs, fireplace; "you're in Milwaukee -- you'd better have a beer after the round."
THE MIRABEL C.
Soak away your rough round in one of the enormous bathtubs, where you can sip a martini while watching golf on a big screen; "you literally can take a bubble bath"; indoor tubs have a collection of soaps and sponges on a polished rack, with full bar service.
THE G.C. AT NEWCASTLE*
A "real surprise -- not sure which is better, the actual bar or the incredible view of downtown Seattle"; "classic" three-sided bar; wood floor, fireplace; feels like a private club.
NEWPORT (R.I.) C.C.
The new rectangular bar is "outstanding"; the room has leather sofas, chairs and a fireplace; Adirondack chairs on the porch with "a stunning view of the course and a bit of the Atlantic" complete "the perfect lounge area"; only question is, "Where's the Great Gatsby?"
OAKMONT (PA.) C.C.
Frosted mugs of beer and baskets of popcorn on the patio are "the order of the day"; inside is a genuine Brunswick oakwood bar, rescued from a Pittsburgh landmark called Froggy's when that lounge closed; "try the transfusion" (vodka, grape juice and ginger ale); "too much history to detail -- I could spend all day just looking at the walls."
OLD MEMORIAL G.C.
Locker-room bar is "so comfy I could live here"; service is "impeccable"; as you might expect, excellent steaks (Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan founded the club); cigar room is a nice touch because it keeps smoke away from the bar.
SANTA CRUZ, CALIF.
The Tap Room in the historic Hollins House (built in 1929 by championship golfer Marion Hollins) was frequented by Clark Gable, Bobby Jones and Bing Crosby; sit at the oak bar or near a bay window with a view of Monterey Bay.
PATTY JEWETT G. CSE.*
Calls itself the third-oldest public course west of the Mississippi; has an "understated" full-service bar, with "great drink prices" and a "spectacular view of Pikes Peak"; the porch is the best spot.
PEBBLE BEACH G. LINKS
The Tap Room might be the "most famous 19th hole in golf"; exhibits memorabilia from numerous U.S. Opens, Bing Crosby National Pro-Ams and other professional tournaments; wood-paneled room has a fantastic scotch and wine collection, and the menu is "way better than bar food"; order the whole-roasted garlic.
PINE CREST INN*
Mr. B's Lounge is "the watering hole for about 43 courses in the area"; decorated with photos and paintings of former owner Donald Ross; fireplace has a wooden slab with a bull's-eye hole: "Chip balls through the hole; loser buys the drinks."
PINEHURST (N.C.) RESORT*
The Ryder Cup Lounge, named after the 1951 matches there, is just off the lobby of the resort's Carolina hotel; intimate bar and "great rocking chairs" on the attached veranda; "I'm waiting for Walter Hagen to wander in and order a drink."
PINE VALLEY (N.J.) G.C.
"Nothing fancy, but if these walls could talk ... "; stand-up bar is in a large room with two tables and "enough memorabilia to strain your eyes"; bartender Sly knows everybody's name; a lump of soft cheese and crackers in the corner would be unappetizing anywhere else.
Look out the windows of this bar/restaurant and you see the 18th hole, the Pacific Ocean and the cliffs of Bali Hai: "It looks like a painting"; with a view like that, the bar "might as well be made of cardboard," but it's "a really low-key yet classy" spot to grab a drink.
ROSS BRIDGE G. RESORT*
After playing the 8,191-yard course (one of the world's longest), the hospitality will bring you back from exhaustion; it's "clean, open and comfy" (fireplace and plasma TVs); "gotta try the shrimp and grits"; overlooks the resort's pool, "so try not to stare."
SAND HILLS G.C.
The staff "goes way out of its way" to please you, and members have been kicked out for being excessively rude to them; "great scotch and wine collections"; "simple bar"; the attached porch is great for stargazing because "there's nothing around for miles."
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA.
See dolphins surfacing in the bay outside the windows of the Oak Room bar at the Lodge; the mojito is the drink of choice in this dark-wood, four-sided bar, and be sure to order the black-eyed pea hummus and homemade flatbread; live music always seems to be playing, including "great bagpipes at dusk."
JUNO BEACH, FLA.
Inside the locker room is a small bar, but the room is memorable for its cathedral ceiling (used to make cigars more than appropriate) and classic wood lockers outlining the walls; the boards along the walls display some of golf's most famous names; it's "old-money Palm Beach."
ST. ANDREWS PUB*
NEW YORK CITY
Manhattan golfers returning from Van Cortlandt Park G. Cse. in the Bronx or the driving range at Chelsea Piers love this Midtown pub; "like being in St. Andrews"; phenomenal scotch collection; most of the staff have Scottish accents; golf memorabilia is a nice touch.
THE COLONY, TEX.
The Old Tom Morris Pub goes to "great lengths" to re-create a Scottish-pub atmosphere; the actual bar was hand-crafted in the 19th century and was imported from the U.K.; "very cozy."
UPPER MONTCLAIR C.C.
"You half expect to see Tony Soprano at the bar" (the HBO show used to film at the club); members have 24-hour access to the men's grill, which is why some moved into an apartment building across the street; the bar is classic dark wood; Scottish motif.
WEST SEATTLE G. CSE.*
Have a beer "next to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels" while you look out on "snow-capped Mount Rainier"; a small but lively room with regulars often spilling out onto the adjacent patio for putting contests; the practice green and first tee are right next to the bar.
WHISPER ROCK G.C.
Former Castle Pines locker-room attendant Mike Marranzino, now at Whisper Rock, brought the recipe for Castle's famous milkshakes as well as its legendary service; Phil Mickelson is a member; club motto is on a Masters flag on display in the grillroom: "Boys of Whisper Rock, it's all about the hang!"
WINGED FOOT G.C.
Knowing Tommy Armour and Claude Harmon used to drink in the men's grill is "a big part of the bar's appeal"; Butch Harmon's take: "There's so much history. The names on the walls, the dark mahogany look -- it's just a great, great bar"; the bartenders "are not stingy with their pours."
The bar buffers the course from the hotel/casino, so you might hear a guy explaining how he lost $5,000 in craps. It'll make the $10 you lost on the course seem irrelevant.
WHAT DID WE MISS?
Don't see your favorite 19th hole on the list? Let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our top-50 list will be updated every two years.