Skip to content

Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Thoughts On Golf, Cooking, and Parenthood

October 21, 2009

I don’t play golf.

Actually, at 48-years old, I’ve just started playing golf, but that’s a story for later in this column. The point is: Even though I’ve just started playing golf, I’m terrible at it. So the former statement is true, and it’s safe to say that I don’t play golf.

As a kid, my best friends started playing golf when they were around eight-years old. They’re scratch golfers, today. The bug never bit me.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a PGA-sanctioned golf tournament— The Magnolia Classic— that came to my hometown of Hattiesburg, every year. It was scheduled in the spring, opposite The Masters.

In the early days, The Magnolia Classic brought some big names to the Wednesday Po-Am: Clint Eastwood, Glen Campbell, and plenty of pro athletes. My school gave us that day off and my friends and I would get to the Hattiesburg Country Club early, hang out in the parking lot, and ask players if we could caddy for them. I knew nothing about caddying and even less about golf, but the gig paid well, and anything was better than being in school. For years, that was my only exposure to golf.

Eventually the tournament moved to Madison, Miss and changed it’s name. Years later, Mississippi’s Viking Range Corporation took over the sponsorship duties of one of the South’s premier golf events. Viking is all about food, and cooking, and eating. I am all about food, and cooking, and eating. Cooking and golf— they’re not such strange bedfellows.

The past several years, Viking has used their extensive contacts in the culinary world to bring some of the world’s most famous chefs to Mississippi to host cooking demonstrations during the tournament.

This year, Food Network star, Tyler Florence, will be hosting two demos on Halloween afternoon, at 1:00 p.m. and again at 3:00 p.m. Other chefs will be in the Viking Culinary Tent on Thursday October 29th and Friday October 30th.

Sunday, November 1st, I will be in my usual spot on the final day doing the last demo of the tournament. I will be demonstrating recipes from my new book Dispatches From My South. The book won’t officially be released until November 3rd, but I’ll have advanced copies on hand for those who are interested.

Before my Sunday demo, my friend, and talented Mississippi chef, Louis Bruno will be cooking at noon. Even if you’re not a golfer, even if you don’t know anything about golf, even if you don’t even like golf, come out and have a bite, meet a chef, and support the cause.

A year ago I told my son, “Even though I’ve never played golf, if you want to start taking lessons, I’ll take them with you, and playing golf will be something that we can do together.” I didn’t put the hard-sell on him, but just let it hang out there, bringing it up every once in a while.

A few months ago, he said, “Daddy, I want to start playing golf.” So far, three lessons in, we have had a blast. Neither of us is very good, but we’re having some excellent father-son time together, and we’re both having a blast.

His first day out, he hit a drive that landed six inches from the green on a par three. He was hooked. Two days ago, I chipped one in for a birdie on 17. We both ran uphill to the green to see if the ball had indeed gone into the hole. We jumped up and down and threw all golf decorum out of the window when we found the ball in the hole. The bug has bitten.

See you at the Viking Classic.

Sweet Potato Brownies

1 /2 pound butter
2 cups sugar
1 1 /2 cups flour
1 tsp Salt
4 eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
2 cups potatoes, grated
1 cups pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350.

In an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients in order, stirring after each is added.

Pour into a buttered and floured 9×12 inch baking sheet.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting.

2 Tbl butter
1 /4 cup orange juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Melt butter and add remaining ingredients. Let cool. Glaze brownies after they have been cut.

Recent Posts


Everyone has a personal wonderland. When my brother visits a hardware store, a garden center, or a tackle shop he…

Read more

The Blue Crab Invasion of 2023

Featured image:  "Crabs" by Wyatt Waters, from our book A Southern Palate One of the most frequent questions I am…

Read more

RSJ’s New Orleans Restaurant Recommendations 2023

NEW ORLEANS— In a poll of national food critics I believe New Orleans would be listed among the top three…

Read more