The city of Spokane operates four golf courses, some renowned for their natural beauty, which most of us discover after an afternoon on the links. We realized something, though — these courses all have bars and restaurants (and patios), and there's no reason for the less golf-inclined among us to take advantage of that. With that in mind, we ventured forth to eat and drink, and watch other people shank it into the woods so we didn't have to.
INDIAN CANYON GOLF COURSE
1000 S. Assembly Rd., 747-5353, golfindiancanyon.org
THE VIEW: From the recently refurbished restaurant, or better yet its attached deck, drink in one of the best views of Spokane, perched just above the tee for the 10th hole. To the east, you'll see a line of mountains; to the north, a ridge marking the upper reaches of the city.
BEST DEAL: Drafts are $4 to $5, premium cocktails are $6.50 and the best-selling item on the menu, the Canyon burger, runs you $9.
THE VIBE: As one of the area's most celebrated courses, there are plenty of serious golfers to watch here, but we prefer to sit in judgment as hulking dudes hook their dives off the 10th fairway. There's also an element of wildness here: We've seen coyotes dart out of the woods and scoop up marmots meandering in the rough, only to dine on them at a nearby putting green. (JACOB H. FRIES)
DOWNRIVER GOLF COURSE
3225 N. Columbia Circle, 327-5269, downrivergolf.org
THE VIEW: Looking down off the patio, you can watch golfers at the 10th hole or simply enjoy feeling like you're in the middle of the mountains, with trees towering over you.
BEST DEAL: The burger ($6.50) is topped with mayo, lettuce, onions, tomato and pickles and served with fries, or the option to substitute sweet potato fries ($2). For a dollar or less, choose from a list of add-ons, including a fried egg and fresh salsa, piling toppings onto your burger without spending more than $10.
THE VIBE: Between a spacious interior and a mostly covered outdoor area, hanging out at Downriver feels like stopping in for a meal at a ski lodge, except the prices are much more reasonable. Rows of twinkly lights under the canopy create a magical atmosphere to enjoy a coffee or beer during the early spring or fall months, when Downriver is open before the sun rises and after it sets. (FRANNY WRIGHT)
THE CREEK AT QUALCHAN GOLF COURSE
301 E. Meadowlane Rd., 448-9317, golfqualchan.org
THE VIEW: On the patio, you're surrounded by evergreen trees with a stellar view of people teeing off at the 1st hole. In the distance, you can faintly hear the cars zooming down Highway 195.
BEST DEAL: Buy five bottles of beer and get the sixth free; domestic pitchers are $10, pitchers of premium beer are $12.
THE VIBE: Opened in 1993, the golf course is especially hilly, beautifully manicured and the perfect kelly green. Sometimes moose wander through the foliage. The restaurant is the oasis where mostly middle-aged men meet after their round of golf. In this sunlit room with high ceilings and casual restaurant feel, Miller Lite is a favorite. (LAURA JOHNSON)
ESMERALDA GOLF COURSE
3933 E. Courtland Ave., 487-6291, esmeraldagolf.org
THE VIEW: Right outside the windows of Ezzy, you can see golfers teeing off at the 10th hole, but the view stretches far beyond them, without many trees to block the sight of golfers at the 18th hole.
BEST DEAL: Easy to grab while making the turn or for a quick lunch, daily specials include a hot dog or German sausage and chips ($3.75) or a freshly made ham, turkey, tuna or egg salad deli sandwich and chips ($4.25/$7.25).
THE VIBE: If it weren't for golfers — and bikers riding from Beacon Hill and Boulder Beach — occasionally walking through the door, Ezzy feels so homey you might forget you aren't actually in your own living room. Two walls of windows bring a lot of light into the cozy corner of the building filled with a few circular tables. If you want to watch a sport other than golf, there's a TV where the fireplace would normally be. (FW)