Great food and golf… what could possibly be better? I recently had the opportunity to visit Topgolf in Hillsboro during a pre-opening ‘Taste & Tour’ media event… let me recount my (somewhat long) journey to this fine day.
Growing up, my first exposure to golf provided a consistent, sedative effect. I would lie on the floor in front of the TV eating a bowl of cornflakes with bananas on top. Somehow I always fell asleep, so I associated golf with naptime.
When I was about 11, my dad thought he would introduce me to the joys of golf and the great outdoors in the West Texas sun. Unfortunately, his plan was for me to caddy for him! We walked the 18 holes at the Ascarate golf course. Somehow, I could not grasp how carrying a heavy bag of clubs was fun and declined to accompany him on further outings. In retrospect, it was probably too bad I didn’t ask for lessons and actually try to learn the game; I seem to recall hearing that the Pro there was an up-and-coming young fellow named Lee Trevino.
As fate would have it, we moved away from Texas and down to the sunny Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico. My dad brought his clubs with him, but was disappointed to learn that the only golf course in town had belonged to the Army’s Henry Barracks. The grounds had been turned over to the University of Puerto Rico to be used as a campus. He did hit a few balls there, but it just wasn’t the same.
There are quite a few very nice golf courses in Puerto Rico but they were all located in the flatter costal areas and we lived up in the mountains. So when dad planed a trip down to play golf, I was still not very interested, as it was a whole day excursion. After a short while, the old man got tired of trekking down winding roads to play golf and offered me the same clubs I had carried in Texas as a gift. My memory of a day lugging clubs was still too fresh; not only did I refuse them, but they were out on the curb that same day… I really hope somebody got some good use out of them. I remember hearing that there was a really good Pro in El Dorado Named Chi Chi Rodriguez; too bad I wasn’t ready to learn.
As the years passed, I stubbornly declared myself to be a conscientious objector of the golf game and refused to play. My position endured during my Navy years (Yes, I even declined tickets to The Masters), and afterwards as a civilian.
It wasn’t until a young golfer named Tiger Woods came on the scene that I even started thinking about golf again. Tiger’s rise was often the main reason dad would get off the phone quickly when I called because he was watching this amazing player on TV.
Just some years ago, I went to work for a company that hosted a free yearly golf-scramble tournament. The pitch was that it was ‘just about having fun and winning didn’t matter’ (although, in fact it was quite competitive… human nature I guess). They sweetened the pot by including a free sleeve of balls, food and drinks.
I asked a good friend if he could give me a few pointers and help me not look entirely spastic in front of my new co-workers. As it turns out, my buddy not only is a really good player but a very patient coach. He even lent me some clubs to play the upcoming game. We worked for a few days at the range and on the putting green and I was good to go.
So, that first tournament was at one of the nicest courses in our area. Between the beautiful scenery, the readily available beer cart and the encouragement of my fellow golfers, I had a great time and got immediately hooked.
My next move was to work at getting better. I got my own clubs from a great Oregon company, Pine Meadow Golf. I got some training at Golftec and practiced at the driving range. Even though I am still not very good at the sport, I have had fun and even got my name on that yearly tournament trophy.
Now that you know my golf background (and thanks for listening), you can imagine how excited I was when the invite came in to check out a new concept for our area, Topgolf. There are currently 32 locations around the country, with more slotted to open soon. The Hillsboro location is the first in our area and my first time seeing what they are all about.
Topgolf is a state of the art multi-level driving range where you aim to get your golf balls (with microchips) into the targets for points.
They are also a full-service bar and restaurant, with entertainment on select nights.
For golf, they provide everything you need and thankfully, you don’t even have to be a good golfer to have a great time. That said, if this would have been the place my dad brought me to when I was a kid, I probably would have really liked golf a lot more and not wasted all these years dissing the game.
Let me get to the food. My experience over the years with golf course food has been that it has just been okay. If you are tired and hungry, you can eat most anything, a fact that I would guess they are counting on.
Topgolf really brings their “A” game and puts extraordinary effort into their food to provide you with superior cuisine. Conversing with the National Director of Culinary Operations, Seve Delgado, she shared her passion about both the developmental stages of the menu (some of these recipes are family heirlooms) as well as the precise execution of the preparation, where there is a great pride in helping young culinary workers grow professionally.
We started with appetizers. Hummus Cups with Celery and Peppers, as well as Mushi, a kind of Sushi made with cilantro sticky rice, drunken beans, spiced chicken, cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado and Siriacha hot sauce all wrapped in a crispy jalapeño tortilla.
Other Items from the menu on my “To be tried later list” include Bacon Mac’N Cheese Spring Rolls, Pickle Fries and Craft Beer Queso; in true Tapas spirit I can easily justify trying everything on the appetizer list.
While we started to try and get our golf balls into the target pits, we were treated to an exquisite selection of dishes that included Octopus & Smoked Spanish Chorizo Salad on Crostini, a Spinach & Goat Cheese Salad with Homemade Candied Pecans, Grilled Vegetable Medley, Mini Loaded Potatoes and a superbly tender and tasty House Smoked Prime Rib!
The pièce de résistance was dessert, Injectable Donut Holes!!! These hot sugar, cinnamon-sugar dusted little gems are served with large bore syringes filled with chocolate, Bavarian cream or raspberry jelly to inject into the donut bodies. The end result… we were totally full and very happy!
The menu has a ton of interesting choices and the attention that has been placed on top quality food preparation is most excellent. I would add that the staff was extraordinary and made us feel welcome and energized!
I would say that Topgolf in Hillsboro is a real winner in my book… great food and good fun! I will be returning to try some of those tasty looking menu items, along with friends; after all, great things are best when shared.
Topgolf in Hillsboro opens August 5th, 2016.