Not Your Average 19th Hole: Grab a Slice and Hit One too, at The Golf Bar
Traditionally, when referring to a “19th Hole,” you’re speaking about a place to eat and drink affixed to the same golf course you just finished playing. However, The Golf Bar isn’t upstairs at a country club or around the corner from the pro shop at your local muni. It is, as their name aptly suggests, a standalone golf bar. And it’s not some dusty, antiquated Golden Tee machine or a couple of hanging pin flags from yesteryear that make it a golf bar. It’s the actual game of golf offered to its patrons inside a full bar and restaurant.
Step into their original 3,200-square-foot space in San Diego, opened in 2021, or their new 5,000-square-foot location in Rancho Bernardo, and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with a familiar sense of nostalgia.
Maybe it’s the simulator bays laid out one after another, four at the original location and five in the new place. Maybe it’s he league play. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of an office party coexisting with a first date just a few feet away. Or maybe it’s the flat-screen TVs and full menu providing an experience inside of an experience.
If this sounds, looks or feels familiar, it’s because it is. Bowling alleys have long offered a venue soaked in timeless Americana for all ages and skill levels, playing host to leagues, dates and birthday parties alike. Not to mention some mighty tasty food.
Director of Business Development Chris Go recommends the crunchy garlic wings. “They are far and away the best-seller,” he shares. One can see why, as anyone who tries them once will certainly never pass on an opportunity to order them again. The tater tots with a side of Tapatio ranch hold their own, too.
The wings, sliders and tomato soup and grilled cheese bites from The Golf Bar’s kitchen all go great with their extensive offering of beer, wine and cocktails. It’s also the only place in San Diego where you can find “TGB Hazy,” the house IPA made by the legendary San Diego brewery, Karl Strauss.
Craving a slice? The Golf Bar features a full pizza menu, including the “Go Time” pie, which is named after Go, a former collegiate basketball player who has since fallen in love with the game of golf. He spends most of his time at the two Golf Bar locations, answering questions and challenging anyone who might dare to face him on the simulator.
He describes The Golf Bar like this: “We are a bar where you can golf, thus the name, but I like to view it almost more like a salad bar. The experience here can be whatever you want it to be. Casual fun, practice, competition, whatever.”
But what about Topgolf? After years of teasing a San Diego location, the company recently announced that it will soon be opening two spots in America’s Finest City. Is Go worried about this hurting the business?
“Just the opposite,” he says. “We know they’re popular and we hope they get more people who have never touched a golf club to give it a shot and fall in love with the game. As far as we’re concerned, that just creates more people who might want to come by here to hang with their friends while playing a famous course or play in a league or just work on their game. The more golfers in San Diego, the better it is for us.”
Along those lines, you can feel free to bring your own set of clubs from home. If you show up empty handed, The Golf Bar is an official Callaway retailer and happy to have golfers test some brand-new clubs to decide if they want to take them home. And while a reservation would guarantee you the time you want in one of their bays, it is by no means required.
It’s hard to see The Golf Bar and not think about the endless possibilities this multidimensional establishment offers its customers, specifically those wanting to introduce the game to their spouse or child. The setting offers a completely inviting safe space for a first-timer of any age and is devoid of the usual hangups that make golf such an intimidating game to try.
For the golfer seeking an alternative to jockeying for a spot on an overcrowded tee sheet, who wants to dress down and order delicious bar food, who doesn’t want their game restricted to daylight hours and who wants to play iconic courses across the country without leaving San Diego, all from comfort of a simulator bay, you’d be hard pressed to beat The Golf Bar.