It’s a view that Dave Ohlsen treasures. It’s a view that never gets old.
From MacKenzie’s Sports Bar and Grille, where he works as restaurant manager, Ohlsen can look out at so much of what is going on each day, each week, and throughout the year, at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento.
There is the No. 1 tee and No. 18 green of the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course, a par-72 championship layout that plays 7,030 yards from the back tees.
There is also the practice putting green, an area where players can warm up as they get ready for their round of golf that day.
“If you can’t have a good day with those kind of views, you’re in the wrong business,” said Ohlsen. “If you get a little flustered or it gets busy, or if you’re not having the greatest day, all you’ve got to do is look outside. It has a calming kind of influence.”
Ohlsen has been in the restaurant and hospitality industry for 43 years. He was 17 years old when he started out by washing dishes at a restaurant in Kirkland, Washington in 1978.
“I didn’t wash dishes very long. It was not a whole lot of fun,” Ohlsen recalled. “I saw the guy who was cooking steaks and I said, ‘You know, that’s a better job than what I’ve got. I need to be doing that.’
“I learned a lot in those early years, all the basics. I learned all the positions – the prep, how to cook, how to sauté, how to fry, how to make dressings in those years.”
At Haggin Oaks – a facility that also features the Arcade Creek Course, Haggin Oaks Academy Holes, MacKenzie Putting Course, Haggin Oaks 24-hour lighted driving range and learning center with 100 hitting stalls and target greens, Super Shop, Player Performance Studio, Haggin Oaks Shoe Store and Club Performance & Repair Center – Ohlsen oversees operations at MacKenzie’s Sports Bar and Grille, The Hangout Food Truck on the driving range, and beverage carts on the two courses.
He also gets out to play golf on his days off from work, as the game has become a passion of his.
“I just like getting out. I have some regular people that I golf with now. But if you want to go golfing, and you just are out there, you always meet new people, interesting people who are always welcoming,” he said.
During the summer and through September, Ohlsen said he was playing twice a week, usually on Mondays and Tuesdays, very early in the morning, and completing his round in right about three hours.
“We’re going to start trying to get back out and try and be the first ones out,” said Ohlsen.
“When I play, I’m passionate about it. I don’t get to practice much and that kind of thing. I’m kind of a stick-it-in-the-ground-and-go. But I’m competitive. I like to get out there and I enjoy being outside. I enjoy hitting the ball around and I enjoy playing well.
“I play both sides, Arcade and MacKenzie. The courses are in great shape. Even with all the play we’re getting on them, they’re in better shape than they’ve ever been.”
Background in restaurant and hospitality industry
Ohlsen started out his career with Black Angus Steakhouse. He spent 30 years with Black Angus Steakhouse, working in several positions, including chef, manager and general manager. He became executive chef, overseeing operations at 108 restaurants.
It was in 1986 when Ohlsen moved to California, working first in Modesto and then later moving to Sacramento.
Ohlsen was in charge of kitchen operations, product development, budgets and menu planning when he took over as executive chef in 1993 for Black Angus Steakhouse.
“In an executive chef’s role, I got to travel and meet people and make an impact – a positive impact with people and customers. It was awesome,” he said.
Ohlsen joined Rubio’s Coastal Grill in 2008, working as a general manager for one year.
He went to work for Red Robin in Apple Valley, Minnesota as general manager for two years.
Ohlsen joined Morton Golf Management in 2013. Morton Golf manages the facilities at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, Bing Maloney Golf Complex, Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course and William Land Golf Course in Sacramento.
Ohlsen loves everything about it – the work that he does, the people he works with, and the golf.
“You get the best of both worlds here – you get food and golf,” he said. “The balance has been good for me.
“It’s a great working environment with very friendly people.”
MacKenzie’s Sports Bar and Grille
MacKenzie’s Sports Bar and Grille is open for breakfast and lunch daily, from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ohlsen leads the restaurant operations, as he is involved in the monthly specials that MacKenzie’s offers, and works closely with the kitchen staff. He is also involved in what items go on the menu.
“We’ve done a lot of good things. We serve really good food. We have a great local selection of beers that has become very popular,” he said.
“I’m proud of what we do. We work together. I’m proud of the people that work here and proud of the products that we put out.” According to the Haggin Oaks website, www.hagginoaks.com and www.mackenziessportsbar.com, the restaurant offers a casual dining experience, for those looking to enjoy a good meal or grabbing a local craft brew on tap or something else from the full-service bar.
“The restaurant’s welcoming atmosphere features a menu anchored around a large selection of burgers, shareable appetizers, sandwiches, and salads, including a breakfast menu reminiscent of Sunday mornings surrounding the kitchen table,” www.mackenziessportsbar.com reports.
“Daily house-made soups with a focus on using the highest quality and freshest ingredients, flavorful seasonal daily specials from proprietary recipes, and other hand-crafted menu selections abound in the kitchen.
“The outdoor patio overlooks famed golf course architect Alister MacKenzie’s designed course by the same name and is the perfect place to enjoy the views while also savoring your meal. Visit the bar for a hand-crafted cocktail, glass of wine or craft beer where you’ll find a wide selection of locally crafted brews on tap. Bring your putter and work on your short game at the adjacent practice putting green too.
“The Haggin Oaks Golf Complex provides a welcoming atmosphere that envelops all guests at the property.”
For more information
Due the COVID-19 pandemic, only outdoor dining and takeout are currently available, Haggin Oaks said.
MacKenzie’s Sports Bar and Grille is located at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, 3645 Fulton Ave., Sacramento. For more information, call (916) 808-2532 or visit www.hagginoaks.com and www.mackenziessportsbar.com.
Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.