At GolfPac, sweating details is par for the course

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Golf is big business in Arizona.

According to Robert Vintilla, account manager/product development manager for GolfPac Inc., this state is one of the fastest-developing golf destinations in the U.S.

The Florida-based tour operator is doing more business in Arizona each year, Vintilla said.

"With two or three new courses opening every year and new hotels popping up, [Arizona] is a great golf destination," he said.

His company, which started in 1975, offers land-only packages that can be tailored to fit any budget.

"We do all the groundwork -- hotel accommodations, advance tee times and car rentals," he said.

Summer is the best time to get bargains, and Vintilla said, even though it's quite warm, clients can play early, starting between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m.

They can also play at night until about 8 p.m.

Vintilla said his Arizona-bound golf clients generally head to the Scottsdale/Phoenix area but added that the operator might incorporate Tucson in its plans in the future.

He described GolfPac's reservation agents as "very knowledgeable" and said about 80% are golfers themselves.

The company takes res agents to the courses, and they can walk an agent through booking a golf vacation, according to Vintilla.

The agent needs to know what kind of golfer their client is, and GolfPac can help with the rest, he said.

The Canyon Ranch here is the latest property to get into the swing of things, opening a golf performance center in April.

According to Roxanne Housley, vice president of sales, agents are delighted to hear about this addition.

"When we send our sales managers out on travel agent calls, [the new golf center] is the single thing they are most excited about."

It also gives agents a new way to sell the spa.

Housley said a stigma still sometimes exists with men and spa vacations, but the golf center offers them something additional.

She called the golf center a "natural fit" for the spa resort, which focuses on education and teaching.

The center combines fitness and wellness when teaching golf instruction.

Programs focus on improving endurance, strengthening flexibility, increasing range of motion, adding distance to the game, lowering the risk of injury and more.

Housley said the air-conditioned facility has the exercise equipment to support these lessons.

Guests can try out the full swing area and also the video analysis, which gives you a printout that explains what you are are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

The programs are the First Tee, for people who have never picked up a club, and the Front Nine and Back Nine, for those who play occasionally or every weekend.

First Tee is a four-hour program that is split up over two days.

Front Nine is a six-hour program stretched over three days, and Back Nine is a nine-hour program spread over three days.

Canyon Ranch can then arrange for guests to play a game at one of the local courses.

Guests who come to the resort as part of a four-night package can exchange their spa services for the golf clinics, if they wish.

The golf programs can also be booked on an a la carte basis.

The First Tee program starts at $340.

GolfPac Inc.
Phone: (800) 327-0878
Web: www.golfpacinc.com

Canyon Ranch
Phone: (800) 742-9000
Web: www.canyonranch.com

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