PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Snack tents: Every PGA Tour event has them, but their specifics and quality vary widely. Above all, players enjoy variety, whether in their granola bars or water temperature (Icy on a cold day? Not good!). But at the Players Championship, they do things right — and with a special twist. Three words: Apples in Sprite.
Chesson Hadley initially tipped off GOLF.com to the joys of the Players snack tents, which he called “the best on Tour.” I went to find out why. There are four snack tents on property: By holes 2, 5, 10 and 15. What was all the fuss about?
I reached the snack tent at No. 2 at the same time as the group of Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, who were playing their 11th hole of the day. Their three caddies made a beeline for the white tent to the rear and right of the tee box. They emerged reloaded; Harry Diamond chomped happily into a granola bar while clutching a handful of water. Kuchar made his move next; he came out with a couple orange slices and an apple. I waited for the room to clear — in any decent society, the snack tent is hallowed ground — before diving in to check for myself.
My first revelation was the simplicity of the whole thing. For players who live in gaudy mansions and belong to high-end private clubs, it’s sort of endearing that something as simple as free snack food in an unadorned white tent still resonates. As I explained my mission to the three women refreshing the snacks, I scanned the room, taking complete inventory. A rack of snacks was the main event, four stories high. Top floor, granola bars: Nature Valley, Kind, Pure Protein, Lara Bar. Then the cracker level, with four different combos of peanut butter. Row three was Nutri Grains and Fig Bars. Bottom row was the tasty stuff: Pop Tarts, oatmeal creme pies, Chips Ahoy, Smuckers Uncrustable PB&Js, Clif bars — all the goods.
Miscellaneous snacks overflowed onto the table: Nuts, raisins, Famous Amos, Pop Tart bites, trail mix, Cheez-its, Ritz Bits and Chex Mix. Simple, sure. But my, what a selection.
In the beverage department, there were two coolers filled with drinks on ice — one with waters, another with Powerade and soda. And then there was the fruit section: One plate with apples, another with bananas, another with assorted grapes, strawberries, pineapple, melon, the works.
But the featured pairing sat beside it: apples in Sprite. I had to ask Nancy to repeat herself — apples in what? But sure enough, there were several slices of apple (two types: Gala and Granny Smith) suspended in a clear carbonated beverage in the center of the food section.
These little slices of paradise have a reason behind them: the Sprite keeps the apples from turning brown, and it infuses them with a little extra sweetness. They’re apparently a favorite of Lucas Glover, who makes it a point to stop by.
“When Jordan and Justin and all these kids were new, they’d come in and they’d go, ‘Oh, the famous apples!’ So I guess their reputation preceded them,” Nancy said excitedly.
Other items are taken more regularly, particularly bananas, given their nutritional value. Even the sugary stuff gets eaten, mostly by the caddies — “They always say ‘Oh, these bags are very heavy, we need to keep our blood sugar up,’” dished one attendant. A handful of Diet Cokes even disappear throughout the course of a day. But it’s the apples in Sprite that keep people talking.
As I lingered in the tent, Harold Varner III approached in the next group. I asked for his appraisal of the snack scene at the Players. “Money,” he said. But what about apples in Sprite — had he ever heard of that? “Not until here,” he said, shaking his head.
Peggy Brothers, a proud Players snack tent attendant for years now, had a clear directive for me. “You’re going to tell the world.” So here were are — consider yourselves told.