Granted, the economy is bad, and people are cutting back wherever they can. But golf doesn't have to be a luxury that gets cut. Summer rates are in effect, and add to that summer golf cards and numerous online tee-time services, and golf is as cheap as it's going to get in the Tampa Bay area. Summer membership cards require a flat fee to purchase, but they save about 10 percent on each round played. If a golfer plans to use the card at least once a week, it eventually pays for itself. Online tee-time services are good for finding cheap rates, but for about only three days in advance. Still, if you check about 48 hours ahead, you can save between 30 and 40 percent. Here is a look at membership cards and online services to take advantage of this summer:
Cost: $249. There are also special rates for past members and referrals.
Dates: Through Oct. 31
Local courses: TPC Tampa Bay, Lansbrook, Fox Hollow, Northdale, World Woods, Bardmoor, Westchase, River Hills, Bloomingdale, Bayou Club, Plantation Palms, El Diablo, Silverthorn CC, Lexington Oaks, the Dunes CC, Heritage Harbor, Spring Hill Golf Club, Babe Zaharias, Lake Jovita, Seven Springs CC, Seven Hills, Rocky Point, Club Renaissance, Crescent Oaks, Rogers Park, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Heritage Isles, Tarpon Woods, Hernando Oaks, Mangrove Bay, Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club, Southern Woods, Sugar Mill Woods.
Contact: Toll-free 1-800-605-2582; www.paradise-golf.com.
Big Summer Golf Card
Dates: Through Oct. 31
Courses: (Hernando): Brooksville CC, Seven Hills, Spring Hill Golf Club. (Hillsborough): Apollo Beach GC, Babe Zaharias GC, the Claw at USF, Club Renaissance, Cypress Creek, Eagles GC, Rocky Point, Rogers Park, Summerfield Crossings, Walden Lake and CC. (Pasco): Lake Jovita, Lexington Oaks, Magnolia Valley, Links of Lake Bernadette. (Pinellas): Clearwater Country Club.
Contact: (941) 923-2232; www.bigsummergolf.com.
American Lung Association Golf Privilege Card
Cost: $20, or four cards for $60
Dates: Through October
Courses: Airco, Babe Zaharias, Baypointe, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Citrus Hills, Clearwater Country Club, Clearwater Executive, Dunedin CC, Freedom Fairways (Sun City Center), Largo Golf Course, Links Golf Club of Hudson, Magnolia Valley, Mainlands, Mangrove Bay, Meadow Oaks, Pinecrest, Renaissance Golf Club, Rocky Point, Rogers Park, St. Andrews Links, Seven Hills, Seven Springs, Tarpon Springs Golf Course, Terrace Hill, Timber Greens, Treasure Bay Golf Club, Westchase, World Woods.
Contact: Toll-free 1-800-586-4872; www.golfprivilegecard.org.
Arthritis Foundation Discount Golf Book
Cost: $15; buy three books, get one free.
Dates: Through October
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).
Contact: Toll-free 1-800 -741-4008 or (941) 708-3901
www.golfnow.com: The site offers daily deals at about 20 public courses in the Tampa Bay area. Some are as low as $9 for 18 holes at Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club, for example. It also offers deals at courses from other parts of Florida and across the country.
paradiseteetimes.com: It offers numerous choices at bay area clubs. Type in the course, date range, number of players, desired tee time and maximum price, and it will show you availability.
www.teetimesusa.com: It offers detailed descriptions of courses in the area, complete with star ratings and course style. Click on a desired course, and the best available rate is shown. There is also an option to find other courses in Florida.
www.ezlinks.com: It offers special rates at courses across the country. To narrow the search, click on courses, then Florida, to find deals at area courses.
www.lastminutegolfer.com: Get a username and password, then type in the area where you would like to play. The site shows last-second deals on tee times, and you can earn points every time you use the site.
www.thegolfcourses.net: It offers same-day and next-day tee times at courses around the country. The search can be narrowed to areas. It gives prices for tee times at select courses throughout the day.
www.teemaster.com: Fill in the city, type of course, and in some cases the name of the course, and it will give you green fees for area courses. You can book tee times through the site.
www.golfswitch.com: At the bottom of the home page, there is an option to book a tee time. Fill in region, area, date and time, and the rates pop up.
www.teetimewatch.com: Type in the zip code, city or state where you want to play, and it will give you available tee times and rates in the area.
www.teeofftampabay.com: Lists over 30 area courses with discounted greens fees.