The Next One’s Good

‘I’ll Have What He’s Having’: The ice bucket list of golf libations

December 18, 2023

Ben Hogan and Porky Oliver in a beer advertisement in 1951. Photograph courtesy of Getty images

Every golfer has a bucket list of courses they want to play, but I prefer to ask friends for their Ice Bucket List: What’s the best drink you’ve had at the best courses? You haven’t completed the Grand Slam until you’ve tasted these four cocktails in situ:

1. Southside Traced back to Al Capone’s Chicago, the concoction of gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, mint leaves and soda is now served at many Long Island clubs but none better than the porch at the National Golf Links. (Maidstone makes a good one, too.)

National Golf Links of America
National Golf Links of America
Southampton, NY
255 Panelists
This is where golf architect Seth Raynor got his start. A civil engineer by training, he surveyed holes for architect C.B. Macdonald, who scientifically designed National Golf Links as a fusion of his favorite features from grand old British golf holes. National Golf Links is a true links containing a marvelous collection of holes. As the 2013 Walker Cup reminded us, Macdonald’s versions are actually superior in strategy to the originals, which is why National’s design is still studied by golf architects today, its holes now replicated elsewhere. Hard to fathom that National Golf Links of America was not ranked in the 100 Greatest from 1969 until 1985.
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2. Sam’s Special Named for Cypress Point Club manager Sam Solis who back in the 1930s mixed light and dark rum, sweet and sour mix, powdered sugar and soda shaken to a high froth. They say one is not enough, two is too many, and three is just the beginning.

Cypress Point Club
Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, CA
231 Panelists

Those who think teeny old Cypress Point is defenseless miss the point of Alister MacKenzie’s marvelous design. MacKenzie relished the idea that Cypress Point would offer all sorts of ways to play every hole. That philosophy still thrives, particularly in the past decade, after the faithful restoration of MacKenzie’s original bunkers by veteran course superintendent Jeff Markow.

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3. Dark ’n’ Stormy A high-ball of spicy ginger beer and Gosling’s Black Seal rum served at C.B. Macdonald’s Mid Ocean Club, but any bar in Bermuda counts. It may seem blasphemous, but I’m told Malcolm Gosling himself (eighth generation) substitutes ginger ale for ginger beer to cut the sweetness.

4. Live Transfusion There’s no better thirst-quencher than a vodka mixed with equal parts ginger ale and grape juice at the stand-up bar in Winged Foot’s manly grill.

Winged Foot Golf Club: East
Winged Foot Golf Club: East
Mamaroneck, NY
207 Panelists
Winged Foot’s two-course complex is the product of A.W. Tillinghast’s fertile imagination. Every characteristic of the more famous West Course also exists on the Winged Foot East (which, incredibly, was used as a parking lot during recent U.S. Opens). A few years back, architect Gil Hanse re-established Tillinghast’s bunkering and reclaimed the original sizes and shapes of the greens, bringing “corner-pocket” hole locations back into play.
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Honorable Mention: You’ll notice the Azalea doesn’t make my high list because I’ve never seen a green coat actually drink the unofficial cocktail of Augusta National (vodka, pineapple juice, lemon juice and grenadine). How about a gin and tonic in the Big Room at the R&A Clubhouse at St. Andrews? Oakmont serves a mean Moscow Mule in copper mugs (vodka, ginger beer and lime juice), and your golfing life isn’t topped off until you’ve had a Buckeye milkshake at Muirfield Village (vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, chocolate syrup and milk).

But the ultimate, drop-the-mic refreshment that can’t be beaten is an “Arnold Palmer” ordered at Bay Hill Club or even better at Latrobe Country Club, where the King held court. Of course, what’s transcendent about the Arnold Palmer is that unlike all these other drinks, it also comes in a can that can be purchased at every supermarket and convenience store in the country.

There’s another top 10 golf club where I play that serves a drink they call a “Tarde.” When I sit down at lunch or dinner, a pint glass is simply put on the table. Invariably, my friends say, “What is that?” The server responds, “It’s a Tarde. Would you like one?”

You can have the claret jug. I’ll take a bracer named after my ownself. Actually my mother was the inventor. The formula consists of iced tea with a splash of orange juice and a slice of orange.

Now you might say, hold on, that sounds remarkably like an Arnold Palmer with orange juice substituted for lemonade. Well, that would be like saying Pinot Noir is the same as Pinot Grigio.


Arnold Palmer has a drink during The 113th Open Championship held on the Old Course at St Andrews.

R&A Championships

Arnold and I independently discovered our favorite restorative about the same time in the 1960s. Later Arnold described what he wanted to a waitress at a Palm Springs club while another patron overheard and said, “I’ll have one of those Palmer drinks, too,” and word of mouth spread. Palmer’s manager Alastair Johnston negotiated a deal with Arizona Beverages in 2002 and thus was born the “Arnold Palmer Lite Half & Half Iced Tea Lemonade.” The last I heard, Arnie’s contract was still worth $20 million a year, give or take, seven years after his death. Long live the King!

Alastair won’t comment on the numbers, but he’s an expert on beverage contracts. Bobby Jones owned a Coca-Cola distributorship. Gene Sarazen endorsed Libby’s Tomato Juice, Ben Hogan Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lee Trevino Dr. Pepper, Greg Norman Foster’s Lager, and Tiger Woods Gatorade.

Says Alastair, “What’s different from every other deal is that ‘Arnold Palmer’ was the name of the drink itself. The drink existed before it went to market. Every bartender at every golf club was already making it.”

So drink up. You can chase the Ice Bucket List of famous libations at golf ’s greatest places, or you can always have an Arnie or a Tarde at your home course. Cheers.

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