With temperatures estimated just below 120 degrees this weekend, this might be a good time to talk about playing golf in extreme heat. Just a quick list of do’s and don’ts.
So for those of you brave enough to head out of days when the peak temperatures are 110 degrees or more, here’s a few things to think about:
1. Wear a hat. Yes, hats can get a little hot in the summer, but a wide-brimmed had will help keep the sun off your face and neck, and that can make things a little better.
2. Hydrate. Okay, this really should be No. 1, shouldn’t it. Drink water. Other drinks (uh, beer) can actually hurt you in hot weather. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink something. By then it might be too late. Drink a little something before the round, and then drink a little bit every few holes. Drinking all of your water in your cooler on the front nine of a course might leave you with nothing for the back nine. And waiting to the back nine to start drinking water is an invitation for trouble.
3. Use sunscreen. These days, with the heat so high and with no clouds in sight, it doesn’t take long to get a nice bacon-like burn going. And while you think you will recover from a sunburn, there are long-term effects of repeated sunburns that can include skin cancer. So use sunscreen, SPF 30 or better, I would suggest.
4. Play early. Yes, the golf course is empty at 2 p.m., and with good reason. Starting in the afternoon is cheaper, but it puts you in the middle of the heat. If you can get on the course around 7:30 or 8 a.m., it will cost you $5 or $10 more these days than an afternoon tee time, but it gets you off the course before noon. That allows you to miss the afternoon heat and avoid some of the danger.
5. Find some shade: I’m constantly amazed at the folks who will just kind of stand around on a tee box in the direct sun as other golfers tee off. Stay in the cart, where there is some shade. Or maybe stand under a nearby tree where there is plenty of shade. It’s hot enough out there without exposing yourself to the direct sun any more than you have to. And yes, umbrellas can make for wonderful shade as you walk from a cart to a green and back.
6. Use a cold towel. Some courses (Indian Wells Golf Resort, for one) will go around on a hot day and offer cold towels to golfers. Yes, rubbing a lilac-scented towled on your face is nice, but what is truly wonderful or putting this cold towel on the back of you next. It’s like getting a cold bag of IV fluid for your head. There are some products on the market designed for this very purpose, and they are quite effective, too.
7. Don’t be too macho. The reason heat is so important here is you are trying to avoid heat exhaustion or, far worse, heat stroke. So if you start to feel a little dizzy, if you start to notice that you aren’t sweating at all, if you are starting to struggle to walk or see the numbers on your scorecard, have someone get you back to the clubhouse AT ONCE! There is air conditioning and cold water and maybe a phone for an emergency phone call. This is, after all, just a round of golf. Don’t think that is more important than your long-term health.
You can play golf in the heat, but you have to be smart about it. Sometimes, it is better to stay inside and not tempt the elements.