Molly McMulligan’s Fab 5


by Susan Fornoff

Maybe you tried Topgolf in the early years and pooh-poohed it. A gimmick, you said, probably thinking you were above all that target golf. Just an excuse, you said, to sell beers and nachos.

Today’s Topgolf has evolved from a few newbie-friendly games to serious simulator play for those who choose to indulge. It offers lessons, leagues and tournaments. And it’s inspired lots of “golfertainment” venues to warm our clubs in a cold Colorado winter. Off-course golf is growing faster than the on-course game, according to the National Golf Foundation, and our state has more than 25 golf bars and lounges designed for players of all levels, from accomplished down to merely hopeful.

Like the outdoor game, the indoor game can seem intimidating to outsiders. Here are five tips on becoming an insider.

Make a tee time. Search out golf lounges, golf bars and golf simulator bays, and you will find online mechanisms for making reservations. In some cases, these look exactly like the software used for green grass tee times. You will notice that winter Saturdays and Sundays book up early. They also tend to be more expensive. Plan accordingly.

Choose your technology. Trackman simulators rank first in popularity around the state. But while researching Golf’s Boom Moves Indoors, we found at least three alternative technologies that might serve your group even better. Each one has a bit of a learning curve, so you may want to budget for extra time on your first visit, or, if the place isn’t too busy, ask the staff for a tutorial and a little extra time for a warmup. For best results, bring your own clubs. Yes, all of them. This isn’t minigolf.

Match the experience to your group. Places like X-Golf, South Broadway Country Club, Optimum Golf, the Swing Bays and Tribe Golf are ideal for a foursome of experienced golfers of any ages. Sports bars with bays, including Tom’s Watch Bar, the Walnut Room, Sports Stable and Reed’s Southside Tavern, fit diverse groups that may be watching a game and golfing (or not) on the side. Topgolf caters to families, but if you want to use simulators in other venues that serve alcohol, call and ask before you bring the kids. Local Drive and Stick & Feather have created a more sophisticated atmosphere, while sports bars may or may not be kid friendly.

Maximize value. Bays in sports bars tend to cost less but may offer fewer features and much less room to move. You can find special deals and weekday slots at the higher end golf lounges. Play with a foursome at a good pace and 18 holes can be accomplished in under two hours, which will come to anywhere from $15 to $30 a player. Or bring six and set up two three-person scrambles.

Build a relationship. We’re going to be seeing golf lounges creating communities by offering more leagues, more tournaments and even memberships. Find your fit and participate as much as you can. It will maintain your swing memory over the winter, surely, and help fill the greatest hole left by the falling snow: the camaraderie we’re missing with our golf buddies.

Veteran journalist Susan Fornoff has written about golf for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, ColoradoBiz magazine and her own She became a CGA member when she moved from Oakland, CA, to Littleton in 2016, and ghost-writes as “Molly McMulligan,” the CGA’s on-course consultant on golf for fun. Email her at


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