The summer season in Southwest Florida has officially arrived. The hot and sticky mornings, followed by afternoon rain and lightning, and then more hot and sticky conditions to finish out the day. Most activities in Southwest Florida are developed to be outside. In the summer months it can be tough to maintain all our normal activities. Even walking outside to get the mail or put the trash cans by the street can produce sweat before returning into the house. Trying to play golf in the summer can have its challenges, because of all the things mentioned, but there are also a lot of benefits from being a golfer who is a full time Southwest Florida resident. It could be worse, we could have 10” of snow in our “off season.”
There are so many opportunities to play different courses during the summer months, for private club members, and public golfers. Private club members have the summer reciprocal program, and the public golfers have the Southwest Florida PGA Section Golf Pass, and great prices on public golf courses available on GolfNow.
Almost all private clubs in Southwest Florida reciprocate with other clubs in the region. The reciprocal program runs from May 1st through October 31st. Private clubs that reciprocate typically reciprocate with 10 to 80 local clubs. At Hideaway Beach Club we reciprocate with 60 local clubs. The reciprocation program keeps each club’s departments that produce revenue, such as F&B and golf, much busier than if the program did not exist. Clubs are able to keep more year round staff, which is a huge benefit because employee retention is so important at a private club. Also, this program is a big plus for our members who love to play golf. They can travel to local golf courses on any day of the week to enjoy the reciprocal club’s private experience. Having access to these local private facilities is a wonderful privilege.
There are also programs that allow public golfers the opportunity to play many local facilities during the summer months. The PGA of America — the professional association I am a member of, and 27,000 other professionals around the world – has 41 sections, one section being South Florida. The Southwest Florida PGA
Section provides a “GolfPass,” which is a booklet full of benefits to local golfers such as discounted play at local courses, exclusive outings/events, special merchandise offers, complimentary tickets to a few PGA Tour events, and more. The GolfPass discounted courses include many private facilities that allow those who purchase the pass to play at a very reasonable rate. The GolfPass has been around for 23 years, and the program keeps getting bigger and better each year.
Also, for public golfers, other than just calling local courses themselves to make tee times, there is GolfNow. GolfNow is an online tee-time marketplace, used by 3.5 million golfers, that provides public golfers the opportunity to save money on a round of golf. GolfNow has deals with public facilities across America that allows GolfNow to sell a block of tee times at a discount. Most courses use GolfNow as an outlet to gain rounds and revenue, by filling tee times that might otherwise not get filled. The more prime time the higher the price, and vice versa, it is a simple supply and demand equation. If a golfer wants to wait until 20 minutes before an available tee time, he/she can take that chance. The golfer may save a lot of money on the round of golf by waiting, or have the tee time be sold out just before they purchase, and they will need to start the course search all over again.
Even though golf in Southwest Florida in the summer months can be a little brutal because of the heat, rain, lightning storms, bugs, and golf course conditions with the normal summer agricultural practices, there are a lot of positive aspects than comes along with summer golf in this region. We are blessed to be able to play 12 months out of the year, enjoy discounted rates, and enjoy such an extensive list of golf course to choose from. Enjoy where you live, and the great game of golf this summer!
Todd Elliott is the Head Golf Professional at Hideaway Beach Club on Marco Island, Florida. Todd is a PGA and CMAA member. Todd is Titleist Performance Institute Level 3 Golf Certified. To contact Todd email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @elliottgolfpro.