In most parts of the country, the weather has cooperated and we are officially in “golf season.” As the days get longer, the temperatures get warmer, causing many of you to play golf in the blistering heat of the summer. Here are some hints for playing in the summer heat – while many are quite obvious, make sure you remember these hints as the mercury starts to climb.
· Clothing – try to wear light-colored clothing when playing in the heat. The trend in golf apparel now is synthetic fabric make with moisture wicking elements designed to help you stay dry. Some apparel lines have SPF (sun protection factor) clothing that helps protect against the UV rays that cause skin cancer. Another new addition in golf clothing is sun sleeves – a tight cuff (sold in pairs) that extends from above the elbow to the wrist – designed to protect your arms from the sun. It’s smart to wear a hat or visor to shade your face and eyes from the sun. Finally wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the harmful rays (some people claim they can’t play wearing sunglasses – but if you can, wear them).
· Golf Gloves – bring extra gloves so as you perspire and they get wet, you have a dry replacement. It’s okay to hang the glove on your golf cart or bag to air dry. Consider using rain gloves that are designed to be wet to help you grip the club.
· Sunscreen – use one with a high SPF to help block harmful UV-rays. The higher the SPF number, the more protection you have against sunburn. Apply an hour before you go out in the sun and again during your round (sweat-proof is nice – but still reapply after a few hours). Spray sunscreen is handy to keep in your golf bag as it helps avoids getting oil/lotion on your hands. Caution that some sunscreen products will damage clothes if sprayed or rubbed on your clothing by mistake. (Hint: if you do apply sunscreen during a round, remove your glove and apply using the hand you wear a glove on to prevent getting your grips wet, sticky, etc. You may also use an ice cube and towel to clean your hand.)
· Hydrate – if you are playing in the heat, it’s a good idea to start drinking water before you arrive at the golf course. Drinking cold water helps your body stay cooler once you are in the heat. A good rule of thumb is to drink one bottle of water every three holes. If temperatures are in the upper 90s to 100s, you want to drink 12 to 16 ounces of water every two holes. To save on bottled water expense from the beverage cart, bring an insulated glass, tumbler, water bottle, etc. and fill it with ice. As the ice melts, you have cold water to drink. Many courses offer water coolers every few holes for you to refill your bottle or container. Consider bringing a frozen bottle of water so you have cold water as the ice thaws. Remember while alcohol or soda may sound good, they will dehydrate you rather than help you stay hydrated. Sports drinks or beverages with electrolytes help refuel your body after perspiring and losing sodium.
· Time of day – while it seems pretty obvious that it’s cooler in the morning, remember other golfers will think the same thing, so the golf course could be busier than anticipated. Usually playing early in the morning before the temperatures rise should encourage a quicker round of golf, but sometimes the demand to play early in the day creates a busier golf course and could lead to longer rounds. Another option is to consider playing later in the day during “twilight” times. While it will still be warm outside and the winds could pick up, the rates are generally a bit lower, temperatures start to decrease, the round may be a bit quicker and you may see a beautiful sunset. Some courses offer food and beverage specials along with twilight rates – another reason to consider playing later in the day.
· Keep cool – in addition to the items listed above, when playing in the summer heat, think of additional ways to keep cool on the golf course. If possible, play golf courses with trees that will provide shade while parking a cart or waiting to play. Use a cool towel on your neck – some are made specifically for sports that are like a cool gel pack designed to fit around your neck plus it keeps a wet sopping towel from ruining the collar of your golf shirt. You may also use your golf umbrella for shade.
· Cart or caddy - if you prefer to walk when playing golf, playing in extreme heat is your turn to treat yourself to a riding cart or caddy. Let someone or something else tote your clubs so you can enjoy your day a bit more on the course. If riding in a cart, you have room for cool towels, ice and water, plus you can use a seat cover to make the ride more comfortable.
· Play 9-holes – remember a round of golf doesn’t have to be 18 holes. Playing 9-holes allows you to get out and play a few holes without having to be in the heat for four or more hours. Many after-work leagues are 9-holes because of the time required to play and due to daylight hours. Most people would rather play 9-holes than to not play golf at all. You may also enjoy an Executive or Par 3 course that will allow you to play in a shorter amount of time.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you be better prepared to play golf in the summer heat.