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Air-conditioned golf cart one of many ways to beat the summer heat

It seemed like a good idea at first. An 11:45 a.m. tee time at a championship course for about half the price it is in the spring. But by the middle of the front nine you're already 7-over par, drenched with sweat and thinking seriously about jumping into the homeowner's pool that borders the sixth hole (don't do that, by the way). No wonder greens fees are so cheap and courses so barren this time of year. Only the heartiest, or most desperate, golfers take to the midday heat for 18 holes in the dead of summer. There are ways to make a summer round tolerable. Wear the right clothes, seek shade whenever possible, drink lots of water and try to hit your shots under trees if at all possible. That's summer golf 101. But here are some outside-the-box ideas that should make your round a little cooler during the summer.

Air-conditioned cart

There should be some kind of award for the person who came up with this idea. They are scarce in this area, mostly because of cost. A basic unit costs around $800 to install. But Emerald Greens in Tampa does have air-conditioned carts in its fleet. For an extra $5, golfers get one of the 40 carts with two AC boxes built in behind the driver and passenger side.

A block of ice a little bigger than a shoe box is dropped into each container and a fan blows over the ice. The air from the fan comes out of an adjustable tube, which cools down the golfers. The tube is big enough to move to the front of the cart, so you can cool down your back or front.

"We've got people who use it all the time,'' Emerald Greens golf director Jerry Couzynse said. "We've also got others who are hard core and like it the old way. We use the carts for some of our outside events and people love it. It's really a pretty simple idea to stay cool.''

If you are fortunate enough to have your own golf cart, there are air-conditioning units you can add on. They range from about $800-$1,200, and most are units that attach to the top of the cart and blow cold air from the roof. There are other units that blow air from behind onto golfers' necks. Either way, it's a great way to cool down between shots.

Water spray fans

So you're not fortunate enough to have an air-conditioned golf cart. Time to improvise. Water spray fans can be found most anywhere and run on AA batteries. Get one or two and hook it to the golf cart with a rubber band or twist tie. Or just keep it in the cart and use it when necessary. It's the next best thing to air-conditioning.

Golf bag with built in cooler

There are all kinds on the market, most with a liner in a pocket. Fill up the cooler with ice and bottled water and you're ready to go. The down side is it might be a little heavy if you're carrying your bag. But if it's in the back of the cart, it's no trouble at all. Some of the golf bag coolers are big enough to hold a six-pack, but preferably not of beer in the searing heat.

Cart umbrella

There is a wide variety of umbrellas, but the best to get are ones that attach to your golf bag and are big enough to comfortably stand under. There are also umbrellas specifically designed to block the sun's UV rays, so it's even better than standing under an oak tree. Of course, it's a bit unwieldy if you're riding in a cart, so it's mostly for golfers with pull carts.

Wicking shirts

They are also called Dry Fits, Stay-Drys or Coolmax. The idea is the same. The material in the shirt is supposed to take moisture away from the body. Unlike most shirts, which act like a towel, the wicking shirt removes the sweat without making the shirt feel like it weighs 10 pounds. The good ones also have UV protection built into the shirt. Every little bit helps.

Ice bandana

Pretty simple idea for keeping cool, and it won't get in the way of your swing. There are various types of ties, or bandanas, but the idea is the same. Soak the tie in cool water and the fabric absorbs the moisture. Wrap the tie around your neck, or around your head like a bandana, and cool down while you're playing. Some come with plastic tubes that can be filled with ice and slide into the bandana. They are relatively cheap, between $5-15. Might be worth the investment when you're standing on the seventh tee with the sun beating down on your neck.

Soakable golf hats

There are golf hats, and then there are summer golf hats. The best are the floppy-style hats that are designed to be soaked in water. The hat absorbs the water and keeps you cool without dripping all over the place. There are even some hats with cooling crystals on the top that are activated after being soaked in water for a minute. It claims to keep the top of your head cool for hours (bonanzle.com).

Summer golf shoes

Most of the ones we found were for women. They are lightweight and made mostly of mesh and synthetic leather that allows for air flow. But some of the coolest shoes we found (literally and figuratively) were the Footjoy golf sandal. Picture a sandal with soft spikes on the bottom. You don't even have to wear socks. Or how about going even more casual with the golf flip-flop by Golf Gators (golfgators.com). There are also Croc golf shoes, but they are harder to find since the company went out of business last year. The sandals and flip-flops are about $60, while the mesh shoes are closer to $80.

Wii resort golf

This is a colleague's idea, and it makes sense. The ultimate way to beat the heat and still golf is to stay inside and play a video game. There are all kinds, but the Wii lets you make an actual swing and play actual courses. Tiger Woods has his name on an especially realistic Wii game. So play a quick 18 indoors while your friends sweat it out on the course.

Air-conditioned golf cart one of many ways to beat the summer heat 06/02/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 11:48pm]

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