By John Schwarb

Summer golf in Florida is underrated. Really. Yes, we can all agree it’s hot. But what can you get in exchange for a little extra sweat? Reduced greens fees and other great deals, usually less crowded courses and, consequently, faster rounds.

I’m in my tenth summer in Florida, and I’d like to think I’ve got summer golf down to a science. Here are my tips, both for beating the heat and getting the most out of summer rounds.

  • Do your homework. Deals can be found at Florida courses year-round, but some very good stuff can be found for the dog days of summer. For example, I’m on the email list for Orange County National in Orlando, and a recent offer included a round, lunch, and a sleeve of balls for a price that I thought would have been a steal for golf alone.
  • Ask about conditions when you book. Courses take advantage of summer down time for maintenance such as aeration, so if conditioning is important above all else for you, ask. A good pro shop attendant will tell you if they just punched greens, and maybe offer you a discount to play before they’re fully healed.
  • Drink water. Not just an hour into your round. Start a couple hours before your tee time. You’ll thank yourself when you have enough energy to birdie the 18th hole.
  • Consider a cart. When I moved back to Florida three years ago, I did so as a militant golf course walker. Just loved (and still do) carrying the bag or taking a pull cart. But my first round as a new citizen was in September at TPC Sawgrass, and I got a raised eyebrow from the bag attendant when I said “no cart, I’ll walk.” Then another surprised look from the pro shop cashier. Well, to sum it up, I started feeling woozy late in the front nine and had no memory of playing the middle holes. Somehow I finished the round upright, and another bag attendant greeted me with “so you were the walker.” Yeah, I said, and I won’t be doing that again in a Florida summer. And I haven’t.
  • Embrace dewsweeping. If you’re not an early tee time fan, learn to be one in Florida summers. Some swear by twilight rounds, since there’s a little more light late, but I’ll take a 7 a.m. tee time every time. Put me in the clubhouse for lunch with no thoughts about swinging another club all day.