by Steve Dollar | May 5, 2022

Let’s Par-Tee: 3 Cocktails to Sip on the Golf Course

Golf is one of the Sunshine State’s most iconic pastimes, and with it comes a long (and splashy) tradition of cocktails. Tee-up these three course-inspired refreshers at your next gathering.

The Sawgrass Splash and the Dark n’ Stormy are both signature drinks at golf courses in the state.

Even as a kid, I understood the intimate relationship between golf and alcohol. My father was an avid golfer, and his weekend visits to the local country club often stretched beyond the links to the storied “19th hole.” That would be the clubhouse, where my dad and his middle-aged cronies would retire after their round, a fashion nightmare in their houndstooth polyester slacks and neon-bright Penguin shirts, now sodden with sweat and stray bits of turf, and settle their bets. Somehow, the scores couldn’t be tallied without a few drinks. As the whiskey or gin flowed, someone might break out a pack of cards, maybe a few cigars—for this was the 1970s—and it became apparent that golf was maybe an excuse, an alibi if you will, for all the rest.

Funny, then, that the most famous cocktail associated with the game, in its six centuries of existence, is barely a cocktail at all: the Arnold Palmer. Its namesake, the greatest player of his era who wasn’t Jack Nicklaus, became synonymous with the beverage—three parts unsweetened tea to one part lemonade—in the late 1960s. Decades later, the often-troubled golf champion John Daly saw his own name appended to his hijacked version of the Arnold Palmer. The “John Daly” pays homage to the golfer’s habit of spiking the Arnold Palmer with vodka and was first popularized under Daly’s name at the Whiskey Creek Country Club in Fort Myers in 2005. Eventually, Daly would market multiple variations of the recipe—years ahead of today’s craze for alcohol-infused sodas and seltzers.

The Pink Flamingo is a grapefruit rum-based cocktail created at Streamsong Resort.

The names on the leaderboards have changed, but mixology is still very much the game when thirsty swingers step off the 18th green. Floridians never have to look far to find a course, and some of the most celebrated clubs have their own signature concoctions. Among the most legendary is the Sawgrass Splash. This twist on the classic screwdriver is a hallmark of the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, home of the PGA’s The Players Championship. Its name is inspired by a notorious 1982 incident, when tournament champ Jerry Pate pushed Pete Dye—who designed the fiercely challenging course with his wife, Alice—and Deane Beman, the tour commissioner, into the lake that doubled as a water hazard on the 18th hole. The “splash” marked a memorable end to the new course’s first Players, and was immortalized in the Sawgrass Splash, which four decades on abides as the go-to cocktail for the intrepid golfers who have braved Dye’s Stadium Course.

As befits the coastal ambience, it’s a vodka-based, tall-glass cocktail, made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which just happens to be “the official vodka of the PGA tour.” Equal portions orange juice and lemonade balance a jigger of booze with sweet and tart, with a squeeze of lime for an extra citrus kick. “It’s pretty much your easy-drinking not-much-to-it drink that’s delicious that people love,” says Doug Baumann, director of food and beverage at TPC. “It’s about a balance of flavors. [Cocktails] that do well on courses are refreshing drinks that can cleanse your palate after a round of golf.” Surprisingly, the Sawgrass Splash isn’t even on the cocktail menu at Nineteen, the clubhouse restaurant that overlooks the 18th hole. It doesn’t need to be. 

“It’s so popular, everyone knows about it,” Baumann says. “We make ‘em every day.” 

Sawgrass Splash 

Makes 1 cocktail
  • 1 ½ ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  • 2 ounces lemonade
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • Squeeze of lime juice

PREPARATION: In a Collins glass, combine all ingredients over ice, and then stir.

Recipe courtesy of TPC Sawgrass

Pink Flamingo

Makes 1 cocktail
  • 1 ½ ounces Bacardi Superior
  • ½ ounce Cointreau
  • 5 ounces grapefruit-lime soda

PREPARATION: In a Collins glass, combine all of the ingredients over ice, then stir.  Garnish with a lime wheel.

Recipe courtesy of Streamsong Resort

Dark ‘n Stormy

  • 2 ounces Goslings Black Seal Rum
  • 6 ounces Goslings Stormy Ginger Beer
  • Lime wedge for garnish

PREPARATION: In a tall glass with ice, add Goslings Stormy Ginger Beer and float 2oz Goslings Black Seal Rum. Lime optional, enjoyment mandatory.

Recipe courtesy of Goslings Rum.

Photography by Libby Volgyes