By BETH BRESNAHAN
A colleague once took me to the driving range to teach me the basics. After a few swings and misses, I finally connected with the ball. It ricocheted off the divider and somehow sailed behind me, nailing him between the legs. As he folded toward the ground, I apologized profusely. I then gave away what remained of my bucket of balls while my friend tended to his. I never tried golf again. And not surprisingly, no one, especially my male friends, has since offered to teach me.
Luckily, Essex Media Group has several skilled golfers on its staff who make up for my shortcomings by providing North Shore Golf readers with top-notch writing about the game.
But having grown up in Lynn, I do know Gannon Golf Club very well. As a kid, I sledded the hills of the course, which was then known as Happy Valley. As a mischievous teenager, my friends and I would sneak onto the course at night with our backpacks filled with cheap beer for parties. And as an adult, I’ve attended many family events, fundraisers and functions held in the public course’s distinctive clubhouse.
As soon as you pull up Gannon’s steep driveway, you cannot miss the clubhouse that has sat atop the hill for more than 80 years. It’s hard to believe that the magnificent building was constructed entirely using recycled and reclaimed stones unearthed during the process of clearing and excavating the land for the golf course. Tucked between the 18-hole course designed by Donald Ross disciple Wayne Stiles and Lynn Woods, the clubhouse is truly a gem. Inside, on the second floor, is another gem waiting to be discovered in Diamond’s in the Rough – the course’s 19th hole.
Gannon Building Association oversees the clubhouse operations. The not-for-profit association taps proceeds from beverage sales and bar activities to fund clubhouse improvements (in fact, the association is currently renovating the floors), sponsors youth golf programs and donates to local charities. Diamond Caterers, owned by Lynn resident Kim Diamond, operates the kitchen and since 2014 has provided food for the 19th hole (hence the name, Diamond’s in the Rough), function room and Snack Shack, located next to the 18th hole.
It’s clear that Diamond’s in the Rough is not only enjoyed by golfers, but has also established itself as a friendly neighborhood bar and restaurant. I stopped in late on a Thursday afternoon during the off-season. I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent-size crowd seated at the bar in an almost Cheers-like atmosphere. Everyone knew one another’s names, and even knew mine (because I called ahead to let the bartender on-duty, Clarke Morrison, know I was coming).
Another pleasant surprise was the expansive, but not-at-all expensive menu: 5-pages chock-full of pub-style favorites. You can order an appetizer, soup and a salad, a wrap, hot sandwich or a full dinner while watching an array of sports on a few flat screens positioned around the bar.
And speaking of the bar, it’s fully stocked and offers a wide selection of bottled and draught beers, wines, cocktails and spirits. There are eight beers on tap and another nine in bottles. Domestic beers are just $3. Imports and microbrews are a deal at just $4 a pour. Bud Light and Guinness are two of the standards on tap, while two brews from Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co. and an IPA from Worcester’s Wormtown Brewery provide refreshing options for beer connoisseurs. The wine list features 10 by-the-glass options priced at $5 to $6. And while there isn’t a signature cocktail list, Clarke will mix just about anything you desire.
With so much to choose from on the menu, I asked my waitress, Doreen, for a few recommendations. She shared that the clam chowder ($5), which is homemade, is a bar favorite, as is the “19th Hole Platter” ($10.95) as a starter. The platter gives diners a choice of three items from a long list of appetizers. I selected the latter with buffalo fingers, mozzarella sticks and potato skins loaded with cheddar and bacon. Thankfully my friend John joined me at the bar to help me eat my way through the menu. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it past the enormous first course.
For our main course, we ordered “The Mulligan,” a charbroiled burger topped with beer-battered onion rings, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese and barbeque sauce ($9.95) and “The Birdie,” a boneless grilled chicken breast topped with bacon, lettuce, cheese and mayo ($8.95). Both, as do all sandwiches and wraps on the menu, came with a heaping pile of fries and a pickle spear. Neither of us put away our sandwiches, but made sure to have Doreen wrap them up to go so we could continue enjoying them later. She told us we must come back during golf season, after working up a bigger appetite on the course, for the fried haddock sandwich ($8.95) as the fresh fish is brought in daily, or for the marinated steak tip dinner ($14.95) that is served with a choice of two sides.
I’ll definitely take Doreen up on her suggestion and return to Diamond’s in the Rough, but for the safety of Gannon’s golfers I will stay off the course. My next round will be confined to the 19th hole.
What’s your favorite 19th hole at North Shore Golf clubs? Let us know and Beth will check it out!
Photos: Mark Lorenz