When the temperature soars to a toasty 100-plus degrees this summer, golfers can cruise the fairways at a couple of local resorts in air-conditioned comfort.
Two Scottsdale-based entrepreneurs have designed a golf-cart cooler that will chill players and their beverages, spewing air as much as 40 degrees lower than the current temperature at the back of their necks.
"This will change the face of summer golf," said Kristen Jarnagin, spokeswoman for the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort on the Gila River Indian Community, one of the local resorts that will offer the amenity.
The devices — two per cart — will be installed on 160 golf carts at the Whirlwind golf course at the Sheraton and on 120 carts at the Westin Kierland resort on the Scottsdale-Phoenix border by mid-May, said Ron Shostack, the inventor.
Shostack and brother-in-law Tom Rosenbaum founded Scottsdale-based Coolwell to make and market a cool-down concept initially aimed at providing Rosenbaum relief from summer sizzle while watching his kids’ outdoor sports activities, Shostack said.
Eventually, the two plan to make and market lighter and more portable consumer versions of the cooler for that purpose, he said.
But first Coolwell is targeting commercial uses, Shostack said. Besides the golf cart coolers, the company is working on a version of the batterypowered air conditioner that can be attached to folding chairs — the kind used at outdoor events such as weddings, parties or business sessions, he said. And the Coolwell partners are devising a wheelaround version that can be pulled up to a pool-side lounge chair.
Coolwell also plans to have a version available for truckers, who can use the batterydriven coolers rather than running the truck engine when the driver takes a roadside snooze.
"The half-million long-haul truck drivers sleep in their cabs. That costs about $4 an hour in fuel and wear and tear on the idling engine," Shostack said. "Our unit would pay for itself in 10 days."
But first Shostack hopes to make the Valley a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts — even in the sweltering summer heat— one golf cart at a time.
"We will take the edge off the summer outdoor experience, so local businesses can grab more market share from (tourists) who would otherwise go somewhere else," Shostack said.
That’s a big selling point for the Sheraton, where the director of golf has been working with Coolwell, piloting a version of the cart cooler for nearly a year, Jarnagin said.
"Golf is one of Arizona’s most prestigious amenities," she said. "People already come to play at bargain rates in summer. We’ll have the best deals, and now heat won’t be a factor."
Jarnagin said the pilot airconditioned cart has already attracted lots of interest even though the resort won’t launch the program for several weeks.
Shostack said the device works by taking in hot air, running it through a "heat sink" with ice and cold water, and spewing 65-degree air at the back of the golfers’ necks while they are riding in the cart.
The cool sensation lasts for several minutes after the golfer leaves the cart to play, he said. The cooling capability lasts for up to two hours if it is running continuously, but the device automatically turns off when the golfer exits the vehicle, so it should easily last though a four-hour golf game, he said.
The Coolwells also serve as beverage coolers, and they reverse purpose to become heaters in winter, Shostack said.