For a lot of us, those exotic trips to cool golf destinations like Pebble Beach, Edgewood-Tahoe and even Flagstaff (if you can find a course) won't be happening this summer. The $4 gallon of gasoline, outrageous airfares and a super-tight economy are keeping us at home.
The big squeeze has led to a new word in our golf vocabulary: staycation.
It's a vacation without really leaving home. Not surprisingly, the East Valley golf community has many options.
Scottsdale Golf Group has designed numerous packages to fill the needs of the economically confined. The concept has actually existed for years under a variety of other names, but right now "staycation is all the buzz,'' said Mark Bishop, the vice president and chief marketing officer at SGG.
"I was reading an article in the New York Times about how the idea for a staycation had come about through all of these variables that are influencing our vacation budgets,'' Bishop said. "According to the Times, people don't want to put up with the high price of gas any more, or the high costs and inconveniences of air travel.
"It got me thinking, so I Googled the word staycation and I was surprised to find there were over 10,000 references to it. At that point, I knew I might be on to something.''
If you visit www.scottsdalegolfgroup.com you will find on its home page, "Summer Golf Staycations: Want to get away without going away?''
The staycation promotion involves such courses as Legend Trail, Painted Mountain, Red Mountain Ranch and Hillcrest, all SGG properties, as well as Camelback, SunRidge Canyon and the Sanctuary. Also included are SGG's John Jacobs Golf Schools.
Among the staycation specials being offered by SGG are one-day golf schools as low as $145 and unlimited golf passes starting as low as $79.
"The staycation program has been up and running for less than a month and the response has been overwhelmingly positive," Bishop said. "It's been so strong that next week we're going national with the staycation specials at our other 25 golf schools throughout the country, from Marriott Seaview in Atlantic City to the Chardonnay Club in Napa Valley.''
Chances are most of us won't be going coast-to-coast this summer but there still is a golfing smorgasbord of things to do out there in the East Valley even if temperatures will soon rival a pizza oven.
Another staycation alternative is the TPC Scottsdale's "36 holes with lunch.'' For $127 you get a round of golf on the newly renovated Champions Course in the morning, lunch at the highly acclaimed Champions Grill, and another round of golf in the afternoon on the Stadium Course, the home of the FBR Open.
OK, so 36 holes in one day could be a death march, but in an effort to reward your bravery the TPC's deal goes down as the summer gets hotter, with the cost just $99 from June 30 to Aug. 31.
Or if the heat of the day is not exactly your forte then how about joining the gang for happy hour at the ASU Karsten Course? Every Wednesday and Friday beginning at 2 p.m. (or later), ASU Karsten is offering 50 percent off its $35 green fee that includes two-for-one beverages.
Karsten also has a deal for the entire family. Junior golfers under the age of 17 can play for $1 while their parents play for $1 per hole beginning at 3 p.m.
For those who don't wish to venture too far off the beaten path, Eagle Mountain and Gold Canyon Golf Resort both have unlimited golf packages at rates that are about as low as you can go.
At Eagle Mountain, you get a one-night stay at the Inn at Eagle Mountain, a complimentary breakfast and as much golf as you can play in one day for $98 per person.
Or for $99 Gold Canyon is offering a stay-and-play free package in a one-bedroom casita that features unlimited golf for two players on its Sidewinder Course. Or you can upgrade to $139 for the same package and get all the golf you and your partner can handle on Gold Canyon's highly rated Dinosaur course.
"Everybody always enjoys free golf, and with gas going gonzo and no end in sight, these types of packages are only going to gain in popularity,'' said Scott Scherger, the director of golf at Gold Canyon.
It might not be in the dictionary yet, but the staycation buzzword is here to stay.