The Sampler at

The 19th Hole Sports
Bar & Grill

The 19th Hole Sports Bar & Grill, located in the lower level of the Salt Creek Golf Retreat clubhouse, is a comfortable and well-appointed saloon with everything needed to enjoy a televised sporting event: a bar with plenty of tables, good food, and most importantly, FIVE big-ole HDTVs.

I was watching my favorite college team, Indiana University, at my favorite sports bar during the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament (does it bother anyone else that there are ELEVEN teams in the “Big Ten”???). The Hurryin’ Hoosiers were to meet their first opponent on that Friday night, their second on Saturday afternoon, with the championship on Sunday afternoon.

As I sat there at the bar during Friday’s game, I was already picturing the Saturday afternoon game—the 19th Hole would be packed, no doubt, with the Cream and Crimson faithful, hanging on every spin of the ball, roaring equally their approval of fast break slam dunks and their outrage at blatantly bad calls.

I already knew what I was going to order….

Dinner and drinks with the game is not like a typical restaurant visit; it takes time.

There will be time to nibble, to consider, to order, to relax with a few brews, have a nice meal, and then have a few more brews, all without being in a too-big hurry to eat and run.

Accordingly, I planned to begin my repast with a cold bottle of domestic beer. My Kitchen Companion generally opts for a glass of wine. Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet, and White Zinfandel are all on the list. Also available are imported bottled beer and bar drinks such as a Bloody Mary or a Margarita.

I’d start with appetizers. The 19th Hole has a fine variety of traditional favorites to choose from, including jalapeno poppers, cheese sticks, breaded mushrooms, waffle fries, and chips or nuts. My favorite is onion rings and my better half prefers the hot wings, complete with the traditional sides of celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.

The wings are plump and spicy, and come as a nice big basket that looks like a meal unto itself—very tasty and filling.

They’ve added a couple of new items to their menu, nachos and grilled chicken, but I was leaning towards their famous “hand-pounded hamburger.” I knew my dear one was fond of the giant Salt Creek tenderloin with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mayo.

But there are a ton of sandwich options, including ham or turkey sandwiches, white fish or breaded shrimp, a steak sandwich, bratwurst, a club sandwich, a BLT. There’s even a hot dog or grilled cheese.

For the lighter eaters, there’s a house salad or a chef salad.

Meanwhile, back at the Friday night game, the Hoosiers were, well, frankly, a little lackluster for a top 20 team who had darned near won the regular season conference race with an overall 25–7 record.

The Golden Gophers (who has a gopher for a mascot?) opened the game with a 19–5 run, hitting open 3-pointers and dominating the glass, especially on offense.

The Hoosiers never looked in synch, making only two baskets in the first 11 minutes.

But a D.J. White lay-up sparked a 7–0 run that got Indiana within 26–22, before Minnesota closed the half with a 6–2 flurry to take a 34–27 lead.

So what? It’s the second half that really counts.

Yes, it was going to be a wonderful Saturday afternoon, with plenty of time to pick and nibble over all the wonderful offerings as the Hoosiers whipped up on their second round opponent. Maybe I would even come back to the friendly environs of the 19th Hole on Sunday to catch the championship game and order a whole different set of tasty victuals.

Indiana opened the second half with a 7–0 run to tie it at 34 and then traded baskets and leads over the next nine minutes before Minnesota broke a 48–48 tie with five straight points.

The 19th Hole has one of the coolest bars in the county because of the view. As you sit around the horse-shoe shaped bar, you face a wall of glass that overlooks the beautiful golf course. Of course, that view which is lost after dark, but for a Saturday afternoon game, it would be just perfect for gazing off into the distance during TV time-outs and other interruptions and distractions.

Those danged gophers just refused to give it up, and they were beginning to get on my nerves. Not to worry. The Hoosiers rallied again, cutting the lead to 57–55 with 45.9 seconds left, finally tied it on a D. J. White tip-in and took the lead on his free throw with 1.5 seconds left.

All was in hand. Just a second and a half left, and Minnesota with the ball out under our basket. What could possibly go wrong?

Minnesota heaved the ball most of the length of the floor to some guy named Hoffarber, who, improbably, caught it, and, impossibly, spun away from a defender and hit a 14-foot left-handed shot at the buzzer to clinch a 59–58 upset victory.

Unbelievable. A dagger right to my Hoosier heart! Truly, a nearly unbearable turn of events.

And worst of all, my Saturday afternoon at the 19th Hole and all that I would eat there faded away like a sweet dream in the drowsy dawn of day—or maybe not. One can always take solace in good food, good company, and good spirits.