Home » U.S. Open 2024: Does Pinehurst really have the “best breakfast in golf”? Our writers investigate – Australian Golf Digest

U.S. Open 2024: Does Pinehurst really have the “best breakfast in golf”? Our writers investigate – Australian Golf Digest

U.S. Open 2024: Does Pinehurst really have the “best breakfast in golf”? Our writers investigate – Australian Golf Digest

PINEHURST, N.C. — In various media, the breakfast buffet at the Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst, site of this year’s U.S. Open, has been called “the best breakfast in golf” and “arguably the most famous meal in golf this side of the Masters Champion’s Dinner.” To investigate these claims, Shane Ryan and Joel Beall partook on Sunday morning before the final round. What follows is their post-meal exchange.

***

Joel,

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt a greater duty to our readership than today, as we try to verify the claim that we’re about to experience the “best breakfast in golf,” which I’ll be abbreviating from now on as B-BIG. I’m not sure who came up with this label, or how it was tested, or who votes, and it should go without saying that you and I have not had enough, uh…breakfasts in golf?…to be able to declare a definitive winner. That makes our job harder. So how to tackle it?

I chose the psychopath method, which was to put literally everything from the buffet onto a single plate. Well, not everything. I had to make some hard choices, which meant skipping the omelet station (sorry Bo), all fruit (cannot waste time on fruit on a mission like this), granola-like extras, and, most tragically, the bagels with their various accoutrements, from lox to capers to onions to cream cheese. But everything else in the line of steam trays went on the plate. Here’s the full list:

Scrambled eggs, southwest tofu hash, zuchini/yellow squash/onion/white cheddar cheese egg white frittata, applewood smoked bacon, pork sausage patties, chicken apple sausage links, grilled ham, corned beef hash, breakfast potatoes, handmade biscuits, sausage gravy, grits, andouille sausage, pancakes, whipped cream.

Cassie the host provided the apple juice, Shawn filled the water, and we sat down to try it.

I’ll kick it to you momentarily, but the first thing I want to say is that any southern breakfast worth its salt has got to come hard on the biscuit and gravy front, and my goodness, these were prime. They smelled so good originally that I took two, even though I couldn’t possibly eat two along with everything else (note: I ate two), and the taste rose to the olfactory standards: light, fluffy, but somehow just substantial enough, and perfectly complemented by the flavorful, gravy. I’m going to be thinking about those biscuits for a very long time. I’ve got some in-depth notes on everything else, but you gotta lead off with the biscuits south of the Mason-Dixon, and they nailed it…I can see eating these bad boys before a round of golf and being perfectly satisfied without being weighed down.

Take me through your process, pal.

***

Shane,

There’s no process. Just chaos. Trying to stuff as much in my mouth and get back to work before our editors have a breakdown at this beautifully stupid idea.

There’s a reputation among our staff that I’m somewhat of a coffee snob, that baristas across the world toss and turn at night that I’ll walk into their shops and order something that goes in the face of sensibles palates, science and God. So I could feel your righteous delight at the straight black jet fuel that filled my cup. No foam, no sugar, no cinnamon, no presentation. But that’s exactly what I want at Pinehurst. The ambience of a place preserved in time can feel like it’s soaked into the present at the idea of a mint cafe mocha with oat milk. This is a simple man’s coffee, an honest man’s coffee, the coffee that built great things and held greater ambitions for this fledgling nation. It hit the spot.

The omelet was also on point (thanks Bo). An omelet is a lot like the golf grip. Too soft and it falls apart, too hard is no return. This was a proper omelet, loads of cheese with bacon, tomato and chives. In a related note, sticking with golf analogies, good breakfast is a lot like an emergency 18 holes on a fall afternoon. It’s something that rarely happens, something you want to happen but never think it will come, so when it does you savor it for all it’s worth.

Shane, there was apparently a celebrity of some kind sitting behind me, judging by the couples that came up asking to take a photo with him. I gave a quick glance but have no idea who he is. It seems they are saying “pink” a lot? He sort of looks handsome. Handsome in the way of a supporting character in a Nic Cage heist movie that’s a bit of a wildcard who will ultimately put the job in doubt but dammit he’s the best at what he does and you’re going to have fun in the journey. But there was also Instagram mentions and I’m not really on there so I have no idea.

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***

Joel,

I also didn’t know this good-looking man or his attractive date, and after some Googling, I still don’t (“pink” and “golf” as a search is not efficient), but I do know that one of the highlights of this breakfast is when they asked him for his room number and he gave a hard glance at us, like we might be stalkers eager to overhear where he was staying. He laughed after a beat, but I also noticed that he never said his room number.

Back to the food: I was very jealous of your omelet, but only up to the point that I tried the zucchini/squasion/onion/white cheddar egg white frittata, which was wildly on point for something that left off the precious, heavenly yolk. The scrambled eggs also helped scratch the egg itch, appropriately light on a hot summer morning. Of the three sausages I tasted, the chunks of the andouille variety were the showstoppers; it made me want to rent a fan boat and wrestle a gator in the bayou. Seriously, they were awesome.

The tofu hash was better than it should have been for having two ingredients, tofu and corn, that are F-tier foods, the breakfast potatoes were sneaky great, perfectly browned and salted, and even though it played second fiddle to Papa Andouille, I give a solid A-grade to the chicken apple sausage links (how do they get the apple taste in there? I suspect witchcraft). I saved the corn beef hash for last, because it’s probably my favorite thing to eat for breakfast, and mannnn, they delivered. It only occurs to me now that I should have put some on a biscuit with sausage gravy, taken a single bite, and died from pleasure. You and Shawn and Cassie would have had to drag my carcass out so I didn’t bother Pink or the other diners, but you would have been jealous, because it would have been a great death. Maybe even a hero’s death.

Before I go back to you, a quick shout to the dining room itself and the hotel, from the blue-and-white patterns on the chairs to the chandeliers to the general old school fancy hotel vibe with just the right dash of modernity. Even the topiary, Joel…even the topiary felt right.

I don’t find myself qualified to give this a definitive B-BIG label, but damned if it wasn’t the best I’ve had.

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***Shane,

It was a ridiculous spread. And while I’m hesitant to label anything the best, I can’t think of anything better. Starting with the pancakes. Holy hell were they good. They were designed specifically for the Pinehurst experience. On the consistency scale they’re closer to the fluffy end of the spectrum, like taking a cookie out of the oven with two minutes to go so the inside remains gooey, which is what you want before playing 36 holes in the Carolina humidity and heat. The maple syrup was a sugary delight. I probably overdid it with whipped cream but you’re not going to not eat all the whipped cream on a plate.

No complaints on the array of baked goods, although the waiters were looking at me like a maniac for just eating the top of the muffin and leaving the rest in the wrapper. I feel bad because I don’t want to waste food but the bottom of a muffin isn’t really food, is it? What is food is the apple sausage, and my only regret is not stuffing a few of these bad boys in my pocket to have for lunch.

For the readers at home, Shane beat himself up for not ordering a New York City bagel. Which was unnecessarily dramatic and absolutely dumb. You don’t go to Wisconsin to order pasta or visit Maine for Mexican food. Why you’re upset at not getting a New York style bagel in North Carolina is why we are just work colleagues and not friends. Still, thank you for bringing me along. I look forward to missing the rest of the final round thanks to our ensuing food comas.

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com