There are not many events that can motivate me to get out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on a Friday and ever since McDonald’s started serving breakfast all day long the list keeps growing shorter. So to say I was excited when my alarmphone unleashed DMX’s Bring Your Whole Crew on the morning’s still dark sky might be pushing it, but the day’s proceedings were a good reason to wake up with less resistance.
The 7th Annual Clinic Charity Classic was a massive affair with a backdrop that is better seen than read about. When I zoomed past the guarded gate and up the private drive and into the upper parking lot of the Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton, Colorado the view that filled the cracked windshield on my abused Toyota 4runner immediately impressed upon me that this day’s round of golf would be unlike any other I’ve been a part of.
I’ve never completed a round of golf but did shoot a single round 26 under par on Tiger Woods ’06 for PlayStation 2. My most memorable real life golfing experience is chipping balls onto Interstate 290 from the tee boxes at Chicago’s Columbus Park Golf Course as a teenager. Constant vibrations and noise from the traffic below halted hundreds of backswings and it took about a case of beer to make it through nine holes. The highway that borders the course was built long after Columbus Park had been established thus allowing the youth of the area to blindly launch dimpled bombs onto the unsuspecting commuters.
The previous six installations of this tournament have all been held at City Park Golf Course in Denver and raised in excess of $300,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society chapter supporting Colorado and Wyoming. Last year’s tournament raised close to $100,000 and The Clinic’s intention was to increase the total by 25 percent in 2016. This has become the event of the summer within the cannabis community and now its outgrown its humble beginnings. The change in venue coincides with The Clinic’s opening of a new flagship store on Colorado Blvd. and expansion into Illinois and Nevada.
At 7:00 a.m. many of the day’s 144 golfers were bussed in from Denver and welcomed to the festivities with breakfast burritos and fruit platters. Golf carts were lined up side by side for the entire length of the entranceway as the crisp morning air carried a hint of cannabis into the clubhouse. In strict adherence to the dress code I left my spaghetti straps and flip-flops at home. Wearing Salmon slacks, my custom embroidered golf shirt and a decades old, dog chewed sun hat I looked the part. Lacking any and all common golf etiquette I was a sheep in wolf’s clothes.
Most of breakfast was spent with other members of the media covering the event observing the final preparations to get the tournament underway. Some media types were also playing in the tournament—but rest assured—the majority of cannabis media outlets use the tournament as a buffet for potential advertising dollars and social media photo opportunities. The people they meet are just another business card to be added to the CRM or an Instagram handle to tag on the next post. It’s an embarrassment really. But the magazines won’t print themselves and their parties need to be paid for too.
By 9:30 a.m. the groups of players had spread across the course as the round got underway. I had not previously secured a golf cart rather assuming my charm and/or backpack full of weed would get me around the course just fine. This lack of communication on my part led me to a golf cart designated for a fellow named Drew, who failed to show up this year, perhaps not knowing a golf cart with his name would be waiting upon his arrival. His loss was my gain. After commandeering the vehicle I fixed a course for the nearest dab rig and jammed the gas pedal to the floorboards. There must have been a joke being played on Drew because this cart moved at a quarter speed compared to everyone else.
The terrain being navigated had a very prehistoric vibe. Native flowers and plants line a course that is tucked between hundred of sandstone features jutting up from the earth. Just a few miles away remains of Columbian Mammoths were found in 1960 making Lamb Springs outside of Littleton a top dig site and now the home of an archaeological preserve.
This was like a cannabis-friendly-adult-adventure-golf-experience. The only thing missing from this Jurassic expedition were animatronics and a tar pit. Set to the tunes that blared from Bluetooth speakers of the passing players and event volunteers throughout the day, it was a heady affair. About 97 percent of the attendees were gearing up for Phish’s Labor Day Weekend run at Dick’s and listening to the music you’re about to go hear is a thing, I guess. Scattered in for good measure were some hard beats and questionable lyrics from unfamiliar performers all vying for the uncrowned title of World’s Greatest Mumbling and Most Difficult to Understand Rapper.
Drew’s GPS equipped golf cart didn’t give directions but had a digital map of the course and could pinpoint location but that only slightly helps when you have no clue where you’re at or trying to go. When the screen was idle, advertisements for The Clinic and other event sponsors cycled through not so subtly reminding me what products I should buy after I leave for the day.
Slowly but surely the cart started chugging along the narrow paths winding around the acreage. A perfectly coned blunt accompanied me around the doglegs and through the elevation changes of the course. Each hole was sponsored by a different business and offered unique elements to the game or a way to lower a team’s score.
It takes money to win the Clinic Classic; just how much remains a secret. The players and sponsors know this already. The ultimate goal and premise of the tournament is raising money and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, so the CEO’s and founders of the largest cannabis brands come with their pocketbooks already open.
Mulligans cost $10 and by the look of it O.pen Vape spent all of the money they saved on their Mile High Stadium naming rights bid in an attempt to tip the odds in their favor. At the third tee, teams were able to buy a larger hole than the regulation 4-¼-inch cup. As described to me by The Clinic’s Retail Operations Director Ryan Smith who was in the role of Barker,
“The entire green is negotiable and it’s all donated!“
In the time I was standing around, one team secured a hole-in-one after donating $225 to the MS Society and landing their first shot on the back of the green while a second team plunked down $300 for a chance at an ace only to fall short on each member of the foursome’s tee shot. It was early in the day still and more than 30 groups had yet come through this gnarly par-3. It was like shooting fish in a fundraising barrel filled with nothing but whales.
The “Longest Drive” hole sponsored by Buddy Boy Brands is where I first learned of Dab Island. Overhearing some folk reference such a mythical sounding place was the perfect reason to highjack their conversation and introduce myself as an explorer hoping to take my first dab of the round. In the middle of a lake was an island with dabs they explained. It was pretty straightforward. They couldn’t point me in the direction of Dab Island though they swore it was real.
Preparing to depart in search of La Isla Dab, a volunteer approached me with an offer for a free joint. Never one to turn down such a gesture I gladly accepted a pre-roll of Kosher Kush. This would become a recurring theme for the day as scores of volunteers who all work for The Clinic were manning and womanning the course delivering beers and snacks and joints and smiles all day long. Many of them switched their schedules to be able to help out.
I couldn’t be too sure I was heading the right way to find the Island and I had given up on the rudimentary GPS system to help guide me. My dabber’s intuition was taking over. I’d been smoking flower since I walked out my front door and the parking lot ratchet dab I ripped was hours in the past. Meandering though the web of cart paths, service paths, dead ends and turnarounds ultimately led to a most remarkable discovery.
Dab Cove wasn’t even on my radar until Drew’s cart happened upon a group of giddy guests. The briefest of exchanges delivered the news that dabs were on the horizon. They motioned to follow the road to the hole. The cove was located at the back of a tee box enclosed on three sides by sandstone helping to block the wind and sun from disrupting the activities taking place.
Arriving just before a slew of golfers the first dab I’d taken in the unique Arrowhead surroundings was felt throughout my face and got my nose running a bit. The Lab’s Stardawg Guava Live Resin burned so good. Quickly a reload of the Cherry Lime Pie that had garnered rave reviews from the photographer on assignment with Whaxy was presented and I exhaled a plume of citrus tinged happiness following another face-melter.
Not even the tastiest dabs in the cove could keep me from continuing in exploration of Dab Island. A head full of Live Resin and an agenda is a terrible thing to waste so without hesitation the Drewmobile was back on the hunt for more terps. By this time of the day I had surveyed the majority of Arrowhead and continued to drive past the same groups of golfers and landmarks over and again. My patience was wearing thin.
Taking a guess at a fork in the path I chose incorrectly. The path narrowed and forced a jam around a bend heading towards the green when some golfers stopped to play their tee-shot from the rough. Testing the suspension I hopped the curb with Drew’s cart and circumnavigated the human obstacles while flashing a toothy grin and signaling everything was A-OK. The looks on their faces ranged from indifference to outrage. Nevertheless Dab Island was still my ultimate destination. I circled back to the fork that lead me astray and concluded the island to be up ahead in the other direction.
A herd of deer on the course threw me for a loop. They were lounging under a tree and grazing on the lush manicured fairways. It was like a hipster picnic. Play on the hole continued with the animals never flinching as errant shots neared the pasture. In the distance a small lake was visible and in it what appeared to be an island. It could have been a mirage though I didn’t take the requisite psychedelics for that to be a real option.
Finally after a daylong search, Dab Island was in the sights. The always-present threat of rain encroached as the wind howled kicking up sand from a near by bunker. On the cusp of ending my quest I followed the signs pointing me in the right direction. When I arrived the island was empty except for the caretaker Duncan and his wife. They welcomed our party to the island with more Live Resin from The Lab and the assurance we were safe although there had been reports of a snake sighting near the island.
Gust of wind continued and began to blow the canopy towards the water. Duncan quickly jumped up and grabbed the stakes that came with the tent and started to plug them into the legs of the structure, securing it firmly to the island. All the commotion had put me on edge and I was in need of something to calm me back to a more cozy state of being. A fat glob of Gorilla Glue and another heater of Stardawg Guava tilted me within inches of falling into the surrounding lake. I had made it!
Throughout the day I did not see one person taking a leak next to a tree or vomiting 8 hours worth of beer into a water hazard, which are par for the course at most charity tournaments. The party held here was respectful of the residential homes neighboring the Western edge of the course considering those holes off limits for blatant cannabis consumption.
As the round saw the last of its participants finish up on the course, a Mexican fiesta and award ceremony was taking place just beyond the practice green in a tent befit for this circus of revelry. The build-your-own-fajita bar was scrumptious and the dessert empanadas were right on. After drizzling a little honey on top, they became next level. In the end a team from Sweet Leaf took home the championship trophy for the 7th Annual Clinic Charity Classic.
The promise of a bigger and better event next year from Ryan Cook, Director of Operations for The Clinic earned a large applause from the guests, sponsors, volunteers and banquet servers during his closing remarks. As checks continue to roll in and the final numbers are tallied for the MS Society, the Clinic Classic’s planning committee is already hard at work plotting 2017’s extravaganza. Who knows, maybe Drew will show up next year?
Photo credit: Marie Graham/Whaxy