If you just happen to be in the Greater Houston area and see a 50-something-year-old man offering samples of barbecue sauce, that guy probably is a golf course superintendent.
Uncle Bob’s Sauces appear to be a hit in The Lone Star State, and others across the country are learning about it, too. In 2012, they sold approximately 20,000 bottles.
“We just shipped 39 cases to a Von Maur department store in Iowa,” Blalock tells GCM.
This truly is a labor of love. Blalock has teamed up with his wife, Terri, to operate the business.
“That’s when I started to wonder how I could combine ag with golf,” he says.
He entered the world of golf course management as a crew member at Quail Hollow Resort in Painesville, Ohio, and in only 30 months became its superintendent. He credits people such as his mentor, Jim Loke, CGCS, for teaching him the intricacies of the business.
“His tenacity for details, his knowledge of the nuts and bolts of agronomy and how that all works on the golf course, were things I watched and learned from him,” Blalock says. “He was very cutting edge, wasn’t afraid to try new things.”
In time, Blalock moved to southern California. Neither Cleveland nor California, though, completely satisfied his taste buds.
“You couldn’t find any real good barbecue in those places,” Blalock says.
He decided to take matters into his own hands. Blalock put his memory to the test, remembering what barbecue tasted like to him as a youngster, in a house where the freezer always was stocked with beef. The Blalocks purchased a 60-gallon kettle and moved into a commercial kitchen to meet Health Department code requests.
“At first we would make small batches of our sauce and started giving it as Christmas presents,” he says. “I didn’t know how to properly bottle it; we just found some clear plastic squeeze bottles and put it in those.”
The Blalock’s didn’t have to ask whether their product was a hit.
“People started showing up with empty bottles and wanted us to refill them,” Blalock says. “We saw a need to nurture this, so we did.”
Their sauce comes in multiple flavors. One of the most popular is Georgia Juice, which he says is a vinegar/mustard-based sauce that goes well with chicken, pork or any type of white meat. The Blalocks’ product line includes gourmet burger sauce and seasonings and rubs.
Oh, and they also have their own restaurant. Uncle Bob’s BBQ in Willis, Texas, is open Friday through Sunday at Stow-A-Way Marina. Terri’s son from a previous marriage, Brandon Gorman, runs the restaurant. Blalock defers much of the credit to their success to Terri.
“She is the driving force in the development of the business,” he says.
Blalock certainly has found a nice mesh, and that is the ultimate reward.
“It is nice to be able to create something people enjoy when we prepare our golf course each day,” Blalock says, “and it is also neat to see so many people have come to like our sauces. It’s all just very gratifying.”