The unofficial insider's dining-out spot at the Players is Ruth's Chris Steak House, located just outside the entrance to Sawgrass in a swank high-rise complex, and it's got a sweet outdoor balcony overlooking a scenic pond (if there is such a thing in Florida).
That's where the big hitters apparently go. Naturally, I went to Al's Pizza, instead. It's a hole-in-the-wall kind of place a few miles north of Sawgrass on A-1A. If you drove by, you might not give it a second look. But Al's Pizza has great pizza. It's where the locals and insiders who don't have the clout to cut to the front of the line at Ruth's Chris go.
How good is Al's? Let me say this. I held the door open for two customers who were leaving -- one was an older man, the second was Joe Ogilvie, your U.S. Bank Championship winner and one of the smartest guys on tour. He gave me a handshake on the way out and I wished him a good week. I should've asked for a stock tip. Joe is wired.
A waitress at Al's asked me a few minutes later who Joe Ogilvie was. I told her he was a pro golfer playing in the tournament this week. She was bummed that she'd waited on a celebrity and didn't know it. Another waitress overheard and asked if I'd heard of Steve Stricker. Well, yeah, I know him -- he's a fellow cheesehead from Wisconsin. She, too, had unwittingly served a celebrity. "I guess he's like on top of the world in golf and I didn't even know who he was," she said. "But he was nice."
The big spenders can have Ruth's Chris this week. I'll be hanging out at Al's Pizza and working on my slice.