Gas prices are soaring. The cost of food is rising. Even the amount of a parking ticket is going up.
But for golfers in Tampa Bay, the price to play a round is going down.
May officially starts the summer season for area courses. The winter snowbirds have packed their clubs and headed north and courses are competing for fewer golfers. They will honor summer golf cards, offer summer memberships and have deals of their own.
Here is a look at some of the options available all summer:
Discount cards or books
Paradise Golf Card
Valid: through October
Cost: $299 plus tax for first-time members, $269 for a renewing member. You can also upgrade to a Paradise Plus card for $368 that includes a large bucket of range balls, unlimited twilight golf and notices of member events.
Where to purchase: Paradise-golf.com or 1-800-605-2582
Advantage: Cuts greens fees in half at most courses. Also allows golfers to play some of the better courses in Tampa Bay.
Disadvantage: Only avid golfers should have this card. If you can't devote at least one day a week to play, you won't save much.
Participating courses: TPC of Tampa Bay, Lansbrook Golf Club, Northdale Golf Club, Fox Hollow, World Woods, Lexington Oaks, Heritage Harbor, Westchase, Spring Hill Golf Club, Claw at USF, Babe Zaharias Golf Course, Lake Jovita, Cheval, Seven Hills, Plantation Palms, Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club, Rocky Point, Club Renaissance (Sun City Center), Crescent Oaks, Rogers Park, Heritage Isles, Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club, Tarpon Woods, Hernando Oaks, Bardmoor, Cove Cay, Bloomingdale Golfer's Club, Mangrove Bay, Dunes Golf Club, Seven Springs, Brooksville Country Club at Majestic Oaks.
Big Summer Golf Card
Valid: through October
Cost: $63 per card
Where to purchase: bigsummergolf.com
Advantage: A good deal for the golfer willing to travel south of the bay area. The card started 16 years ago in Sarasota, and that is where a bulk of the courses are.
Disadvantage: Not really worth it for the golfer who plans to stay north of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Only two Pinellas courses are listed, and only three in Hernando.
Participating courses: Hernando: Brooksville CC, Quail Ridge, Silverthorn CC. Hillsborough: Babe Zaharias, Claw at USF, Club Renaissance, Countryway GC, Eagles GC, Cypress Creek, Pebble Creek, Rocky Point GC, Rogers Park, Summerfield Crossings. Pasco: Beacon Woods, Lexington Oaks, Links of Lake Bernadette, Magnolia Valley, Meadow Oaks. Pinellas: Clearwater CC, Cove Cay.
American Lung Association Golf Privilege Card
Valid: Most are good through October. There are some courses that end in September, some that go through November.
Cost: $20 each or four cards for $60
Where to purchase: mrsnv.com/evt/home.jsp?id=1791.
Advantage: It is for a good cause and a variety of courses are participating, including World Woods and Dunedin CC, which are top notch. Courses throughout the country accept the card.
Disadvantage: Some courses aren't in the best shape. There are also some par-62 and par-54 courses.
Participating courses: Hernando: Seven Hills, Silverthorn, Spring Hill Golf Club, World Woods (Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks). Pasco: Links GC, Magnolia Valley, Meadow Oaks, Seven Springs, Timber Greens. Hillsborough: Babe Zaharias, Diamond Hill, Freedom Fairways, Renaissance GC, Rocky Point, Rogers Park, Summerfield Crossings, Terrace Hill, Westchase. Pinellas: Airco, Baypointe, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Clearwater CC, Clearwater Executive, Dunedin CC, Largo GC, Mainlands, Mangrove Bay, Pinecrest GC, Saint Andrews Links, Tarpon Springs GC, Tarpon Woods, Tides, Treasure Bay.
Valid: Through October
Cost: $15 (buy three books, get one free)
Where to purchase: Call (941) 747-8303, go to participating courses or participating Edwin Watts Golf Stores.
Advantage: Even cheaper than the lung card with the same savings. The book is not limited to Tampa Bay. There are courses throughout Florida that accept it.
Disadvantage: Some of the courses are executives, and others are par 64s, which is fine if you don't mind the short courses. And there aren't many courses in the Pasco and Hernando areas.
Participating courses: Hernando: Quarry GC (Executive), Seven Hills, Silverthorn, Spring Hill GC, World Woods. Hillsborough: Babe Zaharias, Countryway GC, Diamond Hill CC, Eagles, Freedom Fairways, Club Renaissance, Rocky Point, Terrace Hill, Walden Lake CC. Pasco: Beacon Woods GC, Links, Magnolia Valley GC, Meadow Oaks GC, Quail Ridge. Pinellas: Baypointe, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Clearwater CC, Clearwater Executive, Largo GC, Mainlands GC, Pinecrest, St. Andrews Links (executive), Tides, Treasure Bay (executive).
Private courses with public deals
St. Petersburg Country Club: A single summer golf membership costs $125 for the initiation fee and $125 per month. It is $160 for the initiation and $160 per month for a family membership. Summer members may also use the practice range all summer for a one-time fee of $100. It is good through October.
Beacon Woods Golf Club (Bayonet Point): The summer membership runs through September. It is a $150 initiation fee and $17 (plus tax) for every round.
Isla Del Sol Yacht and Country Club (St. Petersburg): The club offers a summer membership for $1,250. It includes golf, tennis, fitness room, pool and a club charge account.
Seminole Lake Country Club (Seminole): The summer membership is from May through October for $125 per month.
East Lake Woodlands Country Club (Oldsmar): A summer membership good through September costs a $50 initiation fee and monthly dues of $374 plus tax. It includes golf, tennis, social, athletic and pool privileges.
Golf Club at Cypress Creek (Ruskin): A summer membership is $199 per person and is good until Nov. 15. Cart fees are $20 Monday-Friday, $30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Courses with their own cards
Brooksville Country Club: You can buy a card at the course for $199 plus tax that entitles you to eight rounds of golf.
World Woods (Brooksville): It has the Premier Woods Card, which is $120 and is good from today through April 30. The card is good for reduced green fees at the Pine Barrens or Rolling Oaks courses.
East Bay Golf Club (Largo): The club sells a summer card for $30 that gives $5 off greens fees through October.
Mangrove Bay Golf Course (St. Petersburg): The summer card is $25 and is good through October. You can play for $22 with a cart, instead of the normal $29.
Clearwater Country Club: With a frequent players card, play nine times and your 10th round is free.
TPC of Tampa Bay: Special deals are offered for Florida residents who book tee times four days or less in advance. Also, a yearlong card called the Vantage Plan allows you to play all year for $30. The plan costs $1,699.
golfnow.com: Also type in golf727.com and it brings up participating courses in Tampa Bay. Good way to reserve tee times online at a variety of courses.
Paradiseteetimes.com: Register for the service, get a password and start reserving tee times. There are 26 area courses that participate.
Teetimesusa.com: This service specializes mostly in golf packages, so it's beneficial to those who spend a long weekend at a resort-type course. It also provides packages at courses throughout the state.
Teeofftampabay.com: Several Tampa courses are represented, and there are no fees for booking a reservation. Also, tee times at courses around the country are available.
Lastminutegolfer.com: Another service that offers tee times at Tampa Bay courses. There is also the opportunity to book tee times at courses throughout the state.
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or (727) 893-8810.