ORLANDO, Fla. — As things begin to slow down by Thursday afternoon at the PGA Show, I slowed down myself, weary from wandering the expanses of the Orange County Convention Center and slightly dehydrated from Wednesday evening's comprehensive happy hour conquest.
But like any good competitor, I was determined to keep my edge. And I was hungry. With long lines in the food court and free samples aplenty on the Show floor, I hit the aisles in search of the best snacks in golf.
STOP 1: 1ST TEE BAR
I'm a sucker for specific branding, and so when I think beginning-of-round snack, one bar comes to mind: 1st Tee. These guys know their lane and they dominate it; the bars aren't sold anywhere besides golf courses. I chomped down on an Oatmeal Raisin selection. Delicious. I tried the Chocolate Peanut, too, in the interest of research. "Fuel for prolonged energy," the packaging says. I sure hoped so, because I had a long walk in front of me.
STOP 2: GOLFERAID SUPPLEMENT DRINK
Conveniently packed with a slew of healthy-sounding ingredients (turmeric, bilberry, milk thistle, etc.) whose effects I don't fully comprehend, this brightly-packaged drink was caffeine-free and promised 353 percent — 353! — of my daily Vitamin C. No artificial flavoring and a pretty solid taste? GolferAid was the perfect choice to wash down my first bar of the day.
STOP 3: CHEF'S CUT JALAPENO CHEDDAR PORK AND BEEF STICK
A stick with a kick! This spicy rod was a tasty reward after a dry meeting about putter technology and a surefire way to get my salt levels up. Plus, the first three ingredients are pork, beef, and cheddar cheese — how can you go wrong?
STOP 4: JULIE'S REAL GRAIN-FREE GRANOLA
Looking for a healthy mix-in post-beef stick, I swung by to see Julie and sample the granola that powered the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory. Gluten-free, paleo-friendly, peanut-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, whatever actually was in the Cacao Coconut resealable snack pack was uber-healthy and gave me a boost without threat of a sugar crash. Not the tastiest but certainly the healthiest snack on my stop.
STOP 5: 10TH TEE BAR
"Build energy, sharpen focus," the bar's front read. The Peanut Honey selection was delightfully chewy and hit the sweet spot after Julie's nutty pureness. I was ready to tear up the back nine.
STOPS 6 AND 7: PAR BAR AND PAR WATER
"Golf doesn't understand nutrition," Par Bar inventor Gerry Mullally told me. "For starters, 90 percent of the people in this room are dehydrated." I counted myself safely within that group. Mullally has been targeting college golf teams, hoping to boost performance through a tasty protein-rich bar and supplementing with a new product, Par Water, that is a water additive supplying electrolytes for 16 ounces of water with just a single gram of sugar. "Compare that to Gatorade!" he said. I did and came to the conclusion that Gatorade definitely has more sugar. I sampled the lemon flavor, which went down smooth.
STOP 8: OMAHA STEAKS TERIYAKI STEAK BITES
Ah, what a sweet savory treat to sample coming down the back nine of a hard day's work. I retired back to GOLF.com headquarters to brag to my coworkers about my conquests and share my remaining steak bites, which were thick and tender. I was happy, full, and ready for a nap.