Golf in Hot Weather
Most of us crave hot weather and a bit of sunshine on our faces, particularly if we come from somewhere that doesn’t get a lot. There are times when it can become dangerous, particularly when exercising.
In severe cases, it could lead to heat exhaustion or possibly heatstroke which is much more serious.
Fortunately, I’ve always tended to carry plenty of water with me on the course so have only had one occasion where I felt ill during a round. Playing in a competition some years ago at Handsworth Golf Club on a hot day I ran out of water around halfway through. I began to feel increasingly ill on the back nine and had many of the symptoms of heat exhaustion. Definitely an experience I didn’t want to repeat and I now make sure I’m carrying plenty of water.
Prepare yourself for hot weather golfing by reading this article. It covers measures you can take to avoid falling ill and signs you should be on the lookout for even when you aren’t golfing.
Please note that I have no medical training and the advice below should not be taken as medical advice. I have linked out to a number of qualified resources, however.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
According to the NHS, the symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- a headache
- dizziness and confusion
- loss of appetite and feeling sick
- excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
- cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- fast breathing or pulse
- a high temperature of 38C or above
- being very thirsty
For information on how to treat heat exhaustion and the signs for heatstroke go to the NHS website.
Making adequate preparations for playing in hot weather is important.
If at all possible try to avoid playing in the hottest part of the day, this is likely to be 11 AM to 3 PM (in the UK at any rate). This is particularly true if you are elderly or have certain pre-existing medical conditions.
Look for sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30 to give adequate protection against UVB. For protection against UVA look for a minimum of four stars or UVA surrounded by a circle (Meets EU standard). Sunscreens made in the US may not be as effective as those produced in Europe and Asia.
Follow the guidelines on the packaging. In general, if you’re playing golf you’ll need to reapply sunscreen during the middle of the round as you tend to have to reapply it every two hours.
For a more detailed look at sunscreens and how to apply them take a look at the NHS website.
Don’t forget some lip balm as well. Many times in the past I’ve ended up wishing I’d used some lip balm even when it’s not that hot.
Some clothing manufacturers now include an SPF rating on their labels which helps. Try to make sure that any clothing you’re planning to wear has a tight enough weave not to let sunlight through to your skin.
A number of modern fabrics are now available that claim varying degrees of moisture-wicking. These can be particularly useful on very hot days where you sweat even more than normal. There’s nothing worse than walking around in a shirt drenched with sweat.
Try to wear clothing that is loose-fitting as this will allow air to circulate.
Most people have probably been advised at one time or another to wear light-colored clothing in hot sunny weather. The lighter colors will reflect more of the sun’s energy. While this sounds good in theory it may not actually be true in practice although there is little empirical evidence either way.
Given that you’re going to be out in the sun for 4 hours it would also be advisable to wear sunglasses. When I’m playing I wear Oakley flak jacket XLJ prescription lenses.
Another important item in hot and sunny weather is a wide-brimmed hat. This will give additional protection to your face, neck and ears. If you are playing in a heatwave then try to find a hat that gives protection but also allows for some airflow. While many golfers wear hats I’m not sure many realize the main reason the professionals do.
Maintaining adequate hydration is important in hot weather, even more so if you’re undertaking physical activity. The CDC recommends up to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
Don’t forget feeling thirsty is a delayed indication of dehydration. By the time you start to feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. It is much better to try and maintain your hydration levels throughout the day. Downing large quantities of water when exercising or after you have finished is not the best way to go about it.
In addition to the loss of water through sweat, you will also be losing some electrolytes. Unless you are sweating profusely then the lost electrolytes should be replaceable by consuming food. A banana for example. If you have been sweating excessively then you might consider a drink with electrolytes partway through your round.
Some care should be taken however with sports drinks since many contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar. Anything marketed as an energy drink is likely to be high in sugar and is a definite no-no.
Ordinary coffee and tea should be okay but would you want to drink them on a hot day when you are exercising? Again avoid drinking them to excess because of the caffeine content.
While some players do have a tendency to consume alcoholic beverages on the course this would be inadvisable during hot weather. Alcohol is a diuretic that will increase the rate of fluid loss. Probably best to save the “Buds” for a cooler day.
In addition to making sure you’re wearing adequate clothing and sunscreen, you might consider using your umbrella as a sunshade. This could prove particularly effective if you’re playing a course with little natural shade or when you’re playing in a 36 hole competition.
Where possible try to spend as much time as you can in shaded areas.
If the golf course you’re playing is hilly then you might consider taking a buggy. This will reduce the strain on your body somewhat and may also provide some additional shade when you’re waiting between shots.
You may be wondering if there’s any other equipment you can use to help you combat the heat.
The concept of cooling towels is pretty simple. Place a damp towel against your skin and as the water evaporates it will reduce your temperature. This is after all the way that sweating works.
According to reviewed.com, the results are somewhat mixed. However, there is some merit to having a soaked towel in your golf bag on very hot days. Whether you want to spend around $10 to purchase a ‘special’ one is another matter.
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.Sir Ranulph Fiennes
If you decided to ride rather than walk then you can get a fan to attach to your cart. This will give you a nice breeze when you’re sitting around waiting.
You can now buy handheld fans that will spray a fine mist of water over you. They should help to cool you down.
Insulated Bottle or Cooler
Keeping your drinks cool is ideal on warm summer days. Invest in a decent insulated bottle or perhaps even a small cooler if you can spare the space in your cart! Having cool drinks available really does help!
It doesn’t really matter what type of glove you wear as it will have only a modest impact on your overall temperature. It is possible to purchase gloves with mesh backings which will slightly reduce how much your hand sweats. I would suggest that you take off your glove between shots as that will probably have a much greater effect.
Whatever type of golf glove you wear, in hot weather you are going to sweat so carry several spares with you. Change over every few holes and leave the used ones to dry out whilst hanging from your bag.
The hottest weather I have played golf in would have been during a trip to Ontario in 2016. Temperatures were consistently over a hundred degrees and for someone from the UK that counts as extreme heat! I did manage to play golf a lot during that trip but did manage my tee times carefully to avoid the hottest parts of the day. If I was playing more than one round I would take a buggy for the second 18 holes.
One Final Tip
This is a really simple suggestion but one that usually works for me when I’m hot. Keep your earlobes damp. I know it sounds stupid but it really will help you feel a bit cooler.
Golf in Hot Weather: Conclusion
While playing in high temperatures may not be quite as pleasant you can still make it fun by taking a number of preventative measures.
Staying hydrated should be your first priority.
If you start to feel some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion then get in the shade and take on some liquid.