By Joni Williams
Just because we don’t golf doesn’t mean we’d ever pass up a fun op for a tee party. That’s how we wound up over at The Golf Garden off Highway 98 in Miramar Beach.
We’d heard a lot of great things about this place lately, like you can putter around on the driving range for just under seven bucks or do the full course with a rented cart for as little as $21 per person. And that got us thinking—his would be a great way to spend to spend Mother’s Day or use as a beach alternative to entertain family from out of town. Or give us an excuse to drive a golf cart. Seriously, that’s one fun set of wheels.
Kids tend to love ‘em, too. And the Golf Garden is a family destination to be sure, complete with special prices for the kiddos if you aim to take Mom out on her big day. If your offspring are beyond the Happy Meal and Goofy Golf years, even better. When the younger gen hit their late teens and beyond, it can be kinda tough to find activities the whole fam might enjoy, but the rush of the Garden’s fountain and its peaceful, lush green grounds just might be the ticket, not to mention the sheer joy and stress relief whacking the crud out of a little white ball with a club can instill.
Plus, the Golf Garden has a cool, kinda-homey yet sorta-beachy clubhouse—no membership required—filled with chubby seating where you can score golfing supplies, food, ice cream novelties and beverages.
And did we mention that includes beer? Or that it’s only $2.50? No, that’s not a misprint. Granted, you’re not going to find exquisite craft brews here for that price. Offerings are limited to Bud, Bud Light and Mich Ultra served up in well-chilled cans. Pair one with an equally cheap convenience store-style hot dog, and you’re only out five bucks for both. Wait, what? Aren’t we going to get gauged with touristy prices at this time of year? No, the staff assured us, the no-ripoff pricing is how they roll all day, everyday, for locals and visitors alike. That’s a hole-in-one, if you ask us.
One thing that is expected to change, though, is the crowd. Understandably, this place typically packs out during the hot summer tourist season, despite extending their last tee time by about five hours from the current 6 p.m. Our advice? Even if you’re a newb who wants to test the waters with a bucket of balls on the driving range and some of those $2.50 beers afterwards on their breezy wrap-around porch, May is a great month to give it a shot.
It’s also a great month to hit the road, and if you happen to be coming into or out of town via I-10, take a sec and check out the Tom Thumb on State Road 85, just south of Crestview. Or rather, check out the huge new red building tucked just behind it that’s called, not coincidentally, Tom Thumb Liquors. That’s right. The convenience store you know and love for everything—from your bleary-eyed morning coffee to gasoline on the fly to big dream lottery tickets—is now in the libations business. Big time.
Best of all, they not only have a dang good craft beer selection, they’re actually pouring growlers. And not only is the growler station clean and modern, done up in brushed and glossy metal shelving, the offerings on the day we went were downright tempting, featuring selections by Cigar City, Terrapin, 21st Amendment, Green Man, Good People, Pensacola Bay and Props. Look for varieties and pricing to rotate.
In the meantime, there’s nearly an entire refrigerated wall dedicated to a well-varied assortment of brews that included those we personally heart most—Rogue, Lagunitas, Stone—as well as ample space dedicated to local brewers. Sounds like a lot of beer, right? To quote the cheesy informercial, But wait, there’s more! In addition to the growler station and enormous fridge, there’s also plenty of non-refrigerated shelf space dedicated to brewskis. Prices looked to be competitive with our favorite coastal haunts, and the selection was not only good but varied and sophisticated.
Whoever does the buying for this place really knows their brews. Goodbye, Crestucky, and hello, SoCee. South Crestview, we think you’ve finally arrived. At least when it comes to beer.
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