Every time I pass through the exclusive gates of Colonial Country Club, I get a special feeling. I've been going there since I was a kid and have so many great memories. Colonial -- or the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, as it is currently known -- is so much more than a golf tournament. It is a rite of spring in Fort Worth and one of the biggest events on the city's social calendar. This year's scene, boosted by one of the strongest fields on the PGA Tour schedule, should be intoxicating.
By all means, walk the beautiful and historic course, but don't forget to check out several must-see spots, including the infamous "Party Hole." The par-3 13th over water gets wilder as the week goes on. Caddie races get the crowd involved and wagering. Many of the caddies are in on the action, which makes things even more fun.
Then there is the Champions Club, a party tent located past the 10th tee near the short-game practice area. A special badge is required to enter, so in the "you always want what you can't have" world of the country-club crowd, this is a definite place to see and be seen. And the fact that the waitresses are all hot doesn't hurt. If you do get inside, ask for Alyson and tell her you are my friend. Last but not least is access to the Colonial Clubhouse. If you want to look cool to your clients or your date, have the proper badge to glide past the police while more than half of the people are turned away.
When the golf comes to an end each day, the party cranks up to a whole new level all across Fort Worth. Here are a few places we recommend to get the most out of the experience that is Colonial.
Joe T. Garcia's: This Fort Worth institution has been around since 1935, and bar none, it one of the best patio scenes in North Texas. Once inside, you can enjoy the lush Fiesta Gardens. It really doesn't get more Fort Worth than Colonial and Joe T's in the same day, but expect a long wait and don't forget to bring your cash, because plastic, even the American Express Black Card, doesn't work here. www.joets.com.
Downtown Fort Worth: Since most of the PGA players and CBS Sports personalities are staying downtown at the Omni or Worthington, it goes without saying that 8.0, with its live music on the patio, and Houston St. Bar & Patio, with its rooftop patio, will be the places to be. At Houston St., be sure to ask for Emilie, a model-hot bartender who can often be seen upstairs. Del Frisco's is always a good bet if you want to spot any of the golfers out on the town. Every year we eat there during Colonial and have yet to not be in the presence of multiple tour players. Other downtown places we will likely drop into during Colonial include the Flying Saucer, the Vault and Vice.
West 7th: The neighborhood that has quickly morphed into Fort Worth's version of Uptown, with its thriving nightlife scene, will be great during Colonial, especially with its proximity to the golf course. The new Bailey's Prime Plus' bar/lounge area features specialty martinis and live music until 1 a.m. The Pour House, V Lounge at Eddie V's, the patio at Sushi Axiom at Montgomery Plaza, and Capital Bar (with its great upstairs patio view) will also be good spots to continue the Colonial party. Don't forget about Boomer Jack's, 7th Haven or Poag Mahone's. And, you could always grab a burger and a beer at Fred's, but expect the wait to be long there, too. (We told you West 7th is the place to be.)
Camp Bowie: If you're sitting at the longest traffic light in the world (University/Bailey/Seventh/Camp Bowie) and decide to turn left on Camp Bowie Boulevard rather than right onto Seventh, there are several options to check out. Uncle Julio's always has a vibrant atmosphere. And steaks at Lucile's stand up with the best in town. Other places of note include the Ginger Man, Baker St. Pub, Jakes, The Mule and Oscar's Pub.