It’s been my experience that golfers not only hold a passion for playing the game, but most enjoy the fringe benefits associated with a day on the links. And I’m not just talking about hip madras plaid wear and sweater vests! I’m referring to a morning or afternoon spent outside in nature, good times with friends, and capped off with lunch, dinner or in the least “snacks” and drinks at the nineteenth hole. On Hilton Head Island there are a bevy of options for celebrating those birdie putts, and one of the latest to join (and some may say, rise above) the pack is Big Jim’s at the Robert Trent Jones golf course in Palmetto Dunes.
The golf enthusiasts I know appreciate good food and can be quite discerning; they’re looking for much better post-game grub than greasy nachos and rubbery chicken wings. They want foodie-level fare along with friendly service and a view of the course they just conquered.
I have played some golf over the years and I do own some chill white and brown golf shoes. But I am not or ever have been even remotely serious about the “game of kings.” I am, however, serious about good food and Big Jim’s delivers with tasty offerings to please the golfer AND everyone else in the family too. This family vibe is alive and well at Big Jim’s because, well, the restaurant, Palmetto Dunes and Hilton Head Island are all about family.
Chris Fleury, manager of Big Jim’s, tells me that the revamped concept of Big Jim’s came about by going back to who created the Palmetto Dunes Resort. This would be the Self family and in particular, Mr. Jim Self. Mr. Self was an avid outdoorsman and accomplished golfer who assisted Charles Fraser in building the Island’s first golf course, The Ocean Course in Sea Pines. He and his family fell in love with the Island and have been involved in its development for many years.
Mr. Self, “Big Jim,” lived an extraordinary life filled with work, family, community, fun, and great food! Apparently he was quite a good cook and as Chris said, “His Tennessee coleslaw was a specialty of his and he made his own barbeque sauce. We have infused our menu with recipes, like the coleslaw, that were Big Jim’s own creations. We also barbeque all our meats in-house in a wood fired smoker in addition to preparing everything we can fresh, ourselves. For example, we smoke the tomatoes for our one-of-a-kind smoked tomato vinaigrette dressing.”
While barbeque (ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked chicken) plays a feature role in the menu, Chris tells me that Big Jim’s has become quite “the burger joint.” Afterenjoying the delicious Smoked Gouda and Tobacco Onion Burger myself, I can attest this did not surprise me. Served with your choice of any of the 11 fresh made sides, this juicy and flavorful burger is topped with a generous mound of crunchy, slivered onions and served on a fresh brioche roll – nice touch!
Big Jim’s menu offers excellent variety, but the menu is not overwhelming, in my mind ensuring high quality instead of attempting to be ‘all things to all people’ as some other restaurants do. With their homemade, made-on-premise approach, I look forward to returning to Big Jim’s for the Beef Brisket Nachos or another one of their hard-to-resist burgers. Because, when it comes to “locally owned and operated” there’s no better place to put your money where your mouth is, than Big Jim’s at the Robert Trent Jones golf course.
Mr. Jim Self’s Tennessee Coleslaw
Big Jim’s, Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, Palmetto Dunes Resort
This recipe serves 30 easily but can be cut in half for a smaller crowd. The slaw should be refrigerated for at least 2 hours for the flavors to meld. Don’t keep for too long though, the high level of vinegar in the recipe will cause the purple cabbage to bleed and create purple coleslaw!
- 1 Gal Mayo
- 1 quart Whole Grain Mustard
- 2 Quart Dijon Mustard
- 1 Cup Red Wine
- 5 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- 1/3 Cup Onion Powder
- ¼ Cup Garlic Powder
- ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
- ¾ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Large Cabbage Heads Shredded
- 1 Purple Cabbage Shredded
- 1 Large Carrot Shredded
Mix first 10 ingredients together for the dressing and stir into the shredded vegetables. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.