The Hills Golf Club at McKendree University went more than a year without a restaurant because officials wanted to overhaul the kitchen and bathrooms.
So, golfers were thrilled to see The Hills Golf Club Restaurant open in May.
"I've had just about everything on the menu, and everything has been good," said Roscoe Toles, 67, of O'Fallon. "It's been great. I don't have any complaints about the quality of the food or the taste of the food."
Roscoe is retired from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Postal Service. He was at The Hills on a recent Thursday to play in its Senior Scramble.
After golf, Roscoe had lunch with his friend, Minus Morris. Roscoe ordered French Dip (seasoned roast beef and provolone on a toasted hoagie with au jus) and French fries.
"If I had wanted to be healthy, I could have gotten a side salad," he said with a grin. "But I wasn't in the mood to be healthy today."
McKendree bought the 18-hole golf course, formerly called Locust Hills, in 2012. The university hit the ground running with improvements.
Director of Golf Mikal Guffey is particularly proud of what he calls "arguably the best greens in the area."
"We're not Locust Hills anymore," he said. "The quality is better, and the prices are affordable. After 2 o'clock, it's $20 seven days a week, all you can play."
The Hills restaurant and bar has a wall of windows and outdoor deck that overlook rolling hills, woods, a pond and the No. 18 hole.
It's operated by Sodexo, the company in charge of the university's dining hall for 20 years, as well as its 1828 Cafe.
"Their goal is for this to be a restaurant not just for golfers but for the whole community," said Mikal, 35, of Fairview Heights.
The menu includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizza and desserts.
The most popular sandwich is the 3-Wood Club with roasted turkey, ham, bacon, American and Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and lemon garlic aioli on toasted wheat bread.
Another customer favorite is the Pulled Pork Sandwich.
"It's big, and it has cole slaw on top and crispy onions on it," said Cathy Willis, 48, of Maryville, a Sodexo employee who is managing the restaurant. "It takes a pork sandwich up a notch."
In the fall, McKendree students will be able to eat at The Hills as part of their university dining plans.
The restaurant also is continuing a long tradition of Friday fish fries at the golf course.
"It was very popular with the townsfolk," Cathy said. "So we're maintaining that. We serve fish for lunch and dinner on Fridays, in addition to the regular menu."
At a glance
What: The Hills Golf Club Restaurant
Where: The Hills Golf Club at McKendree University, 1015 Belleville St. in Lebanon
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Seating: About 125 inside and 50 on deck
Party room: Yes
Information: 618-537-4590 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On the menu
Chicken Wings -- Hand-breaded crispy wings tossed in sauce (smoky buffalo, teriyaki sweet chili or garlic parmesan) with ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce and celery batons, $7
Baby Spinach Salad -- Baby spinach tossed with strawberries, shaved red onions, spiced walnuts and goat cheese with honey balsamic dressing, $7
3-Wood Club Sandwich -- Roasted turkey, ham, bacon, American and Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and lemon garlic aioli on toasted wheat bread, $8 with side and pickle
Southwest Turkey Wrap -- Roasted turkey, pepper Jack cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole wrapped in a tortilla, $6 with side and pickle
BBQ Chicken Pizza -- 14-inch pizza with grilled chicken, smoky barbecue sauce, caramelized red onions, Cheddar Jack cheese and crumbled bacon, $14