I have a standard response when people ask whether I'm any good at golf. I tell them, "I'm good enough to not embarrass myself, but not good enough to keep score." I'm happy with this reality. Sure, I could hand down the hand-me-down clubs I've had for a decade, splurge on a set manufactured this century, hit the driving range once in a while, actually pay attention when I putt. But why? In my athletic worldview, golf's a drinkin' sport, a beer-in-hand activity that just happens to involve a ball, and one of the only opportunities to drink and drive (a golf cart) without the risk of hurting anybody (though anything's possible).
I tend to only play municipal courses, where even the crankiest ranger telling me to put down my beer and hurry the fuck up isn't motivation enough to actually do it. Regardless of tee time, I always hit the bar first for beers to go. At the Willis Case Tavern, inside the brand-new, $4 million clubhouse, Coors cans are $3 each — with every sixth one free — and come packed in a black plastic bag with ice, which fits nicely in the storage compartment of my cart. They don't, however, last into the back nine. For that there's the drink cart, which charges me $4 a can (with no freebie) for the convenience. Big deal.
Though I live a lot closer to City Park, since March I've been drinkin' and drivin' at Willis Case precisely because of its fabulous Tavern. Twice the size of its predecessor, the inside dining room is casual and comfortable, with great big windows facing every direction but north. With the exception of picking up to-go orders, though, I spend zero time inside here. Partly this is because the bar was placed on the north end of the room instead of the south or west, where the backdrop alone could have sold absinthe to Mormons. Mostly it's because the hundred-plus person, partially covered patio offers what the dining room — even with a better-placed bar — never could: outdoor drinking in the Colorado sun with views from Longs Peak to Mount Evans to Pikes Peak and back again.
Willis Case Tavern
Willis Case Tavern
4999 Vrain Street
This patio, without a doubt the most picturesque within city limits, has become somewhat of a vortex for me and my friends. Even with bellies full of beer, with obligations and other commitments calling us home, we can't resist at least one $8.50 pitcher of Budweiser under the umbrellas. One pitcher has inevitably turned into two. Today, following our third round of the season, two turns into three as a spring thunderstorm rolls over the Front Range and develops right on top of us. We've got a car in the parking lot — a major obstacle in the way of our fourth pitcher — but it took a hammer tap to the starter just to get us here, so we're sending text messages to wives about being broken-down and stranded even though we haven't tried to get the car going. With fat, ferocious raindrops starting to soak through our canopy and the wind threatening to overturn our table, we grin like a gaggle of toddlers on a teacup ride, sucked into a vortex. Hoping for a sober ride home.
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Happy with this reality.