The 19th Hole
Drinking Scotch with Top Golfer Justin Rose
The golf champion talks about the best golf course bar, his go-to cocktail recipes and the PGA Tour’s new party atmosphere.
When it comes to the first 18 holes of golf there’s no question that Justin Rose is one of the top players in the world, finishing second at the most recent Masters tournament and winning a gold medal at the Rio games for the U.K. team. But how well does he do on the so-called 19th hole?
“I take the performance side of golf seriously and all the elements that go into that,” Rose told me recently. “I typically try to lead a disciplined lifestyle on the road but I think it’s so important to be able to unwind. If you’re mentally on 24/7, I don’t think you ever are your best. So, for me it’s really important to kick back. I love socializing.”
So much so that Rose is now a global golf ambassador for Scotch whisky brand Glenmorangie and enjoys making drinks for friends and family. The “Old Fashioned is definitely one of my go-tos in the evening. For sure,” he says. On the other hand, he has “day-time cocktails, which are very different than my once-the-sun-goes-down cocktails. Day-time ones you want to feel a bit more refreshing.”
One of his recent creations was inspired by a classic British club house concoction called a Gunner, which usually is a mix of ginger ale, ginger beer, Angostura Bitters and a lime wedge. “It’s a super-refreshing drink. There’s a little bit of spice to it,” he says. To dial down the sugar content, Rose replaces the ginger ale with club soda and, naturally, adds a shot of Glenmorangie Original Scotch Whisky.
After attending the Kentucky Derby for the first time this past May, he also experimented with the classic Mint Julep recipe by adding club soda and Scotch to that drink as well. “If you’re in for a long day of cocktailing, put a dash of soda in there to just chill it out a little bit,” he says. “I think that’s a really refreshing drink especially if you’re in the sun.”
So, which golf course has the best 19th hole bar? Rose answers without hesitation, Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, which was Arnold Palmer’s adoptive home club. “Up until he passed away he was a figure head in the bar,” he remembers. And what do you drink in Arnie’s bar? “In his honor, it’s hard to order anything but an Arnold Palmer,” he says. “You feel kind of funny ordering different stuff.”
One reason why Bay Hill is his favorite is “that clubhouse is part of the locker room. I think any golf club that has a bar that is part of the locker room kind of creates this bit of comradery among the guys.”
“Certainly 20 years ago there was a culture [where] all the boys would get together after their rounds on tour and booze it up and have an awesome time,” Rose says. “Some of the stories from that era are amazing.” But that kind of atmosphere is becoming rarer and rarer as the game has evolved and competition has gotten ever more tough. You’re as likely to find pros shaking up protein shakes as Martinis these days.
Interestingly enough, the fan experience has gone the other way. “Basically, it’s a big old party now,” says Rose. “There are many par 3s on tour that are designed around the bar essentially and with that it becomes very noisy and very rowdy and that’s something we’ve had to adjust to as players.”
Does Rose enjoy that setup? “I do. But I’m traditionalist as well,” he says. But “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you want to play for a lot of money and you want to have a lot of fans out there, you have to deal with what comes with that. There’s definitely a tradeoff.”
Given his success on tour and at the Olympics, it looks like Rose is dealing with it just fine.