Paradise Found: The grillroom at Isleworth Country Club

Friday May 9th, 2008

When I die and go to heaven, the first thing I want to see beyond the pearly gates is a replica of the grillroom at Isleworth Country Club. Isleworth, just west of Orlando, is the playground of Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara, Stuart Appleby and several other high-profile tour pros, but all of them, even Tiger, I discovered on a visit there yesterday, take a back seat to the glorious, unapologetic dudedom that is the 7,500-square-foot grillroom.
We begin just outside the doorway, where a glass display case holds, in homage to Masters champs Woods and O’Meara, a three-dimensional rendering of the green jacket, like one you might find at Madame Tussauds. Enter the grillroom (sorry, not you, dear—men only; oh, and you, too, squirt—no kids allowed either) and you are greeted by a long, handsome bar, a handful of card tables, and, clinging to the edge of a wraparound balcony above the bar, a row of golf bags embroidered with the names of Isleworth’s A-Listers.
The food is scrumptious, of course, and the burritos are the size of a can of tennis balls, but this experience is not about eating, it’s about gaming. Beyond the card tables the room opens up into a massive, cathedral-like space with a soaring ceiling and a collection of obnoxiously large plasma flat-screens—11 in all—that are splayed across the walls like canvases at the Met. In front of them sits a pew of cartoonishly puffy brown-leather electronic recliners that you could get lost in for a week. Behind them, the room’s centerpiece: a putting green that must be at least 400 square feet, a wonderful amenity should you not have settled all your business on the course.
Beyond the putting green, you'll find a daycare center for middle-agers, complete with a 50-course golf simulator and swing analyzer, pool and Ping-Pong tables, a handful of arcade games, two pop-a-shot machines and—should you feel the need to take Shaq to the hole (he’s a member, too)—half a basketball court with a regulation 10-foot hoop and 3-point line. A basketball court. In the grillroom.
Word is there’s a pretty decent golf course outside, but I can’t say. I played 18 on the simulator instead.

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