Six tips for managing heat on the fairway

This is a guest post from Winston Alexander.

Golf doesn’t stop when the weather heats up. Many golfers live in areas where winter limits their golf season to late spring through early fall. If they want to make the most of their golfing season, they can’t sit inside in the hottest months. Hot days can be uncomfortable, and heat can hamper your game. Even worse, overheating can end your game early with a trip to the hospital. Here are six tips for managing summer heat on the fairway.

Early Morning Tee Time

The early bird gets the worm, but the early golfer misses the heat. Early mornings are the coolest part of the day for playing golf. Choose the earliest tee time you can so you can get off the course before the hottest part of the day.

If you can’t get an early tee time, stay away from times where the sun is highest and the heat is most intense. The sun is strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., so try to play a round before or after those times.

No matter what time you play, use sunscreen. Sunburn hurts, it can interfere with your game, and it makes your skin feel hotter than it should. Stay away from oily sunscreens. They can keep your sweat from evaporating properly, and that will make you even hotter.

Rent a Golf Cart

Some golfers pride themselves on walking all 18 holes, but that can be dangerous on hot days. The more you exert yourself, the more likely you will suffer from heatstroke or dehydration. Even if you don’t get sick from the heat, dehydration and heat can add strokes to your game.

A golf cart keeps you cool by limiting your exertion between strokes, providing shade while you ride, and carrying the extra food and water you need to stay sharp. When it’s hot, you need more of everything just when you want to exert less.

Stay Hydrated and Fueled

Golf is a sport. Every athlete, whether pulling up for a jump-shot or swinging a golf club, needs to keep fueled and hydrated. If you want to perform at your best, you will need to replace both water, calories, and electrolytes throughout the day. Make sure you start your game with enough water by sipping water throughout the day and even the day before. It’s difficult to stay hydrated if you weren’t hydrated to start. Even if you aren’t walking, you will sweat.

Water isn’t enough to keep you swinging strongly the whole day. If you want to perform at your best, you must replace water, calories, and electrolytes throughout the day. Electrolytes are chemicals that help your muscles function. You’ve seen videos of runners stumbling toward the finish line, their bodies almost out of control. That’s not because they didn’t drink enough water. It’s because they didn’t consume enough electrolytes.

A sports drink, like Gatorade, has water, calories, and electrolytes, so it can provide everything you need to keep going. If you don’t like sports drinks, you’ll need to pack water and some salty snacks for calories and electrolytes. Don’t just drink water all day. Too much water during exertion can diminish your electrolyte level; this condition is called hyponatremia.

Stay away from alcohol. Nothing beats the taste of a cold beer on a hot day, but alcohol dehydrates you and removes electrolytes. If you want to be in peak shape for the whole game, save the beer for the clubhouse.

Wear Loose-Fitting, Bright Clothing

Your clothing choices can mitigate heat exposure, too. Bright clothing reflects the sun, bouncing some of its heat away from your body. The darker your clothes are, the more heat you’ll absorb. This small change can make a big difference over 18 holes.

The kind of clothing you also choose matters. Sweat cools the body down by evaporating. Tight-fitting clothing restricts air flow under your clothes, so your sweat doesn’t evaporate efficiently. Choose something loose enough to let air move but not so loose that it interferes with your swing.

Material matters, too. Cotton shirts stick uncomfortably to your skin when you sweat. Not only can this be a distraction, but it can also cause chaffing throughout your game. Moisture wicking materials don’t stick to your body when they get wet so you can play the whole day comfortably. You can find golf shirts and polo shirts made from comfortable, moisture-wicking fabric at any golf store.

Carry Your Shade with You

Unless you’re having a bad game, you won’t get much shade on the golf course. The easiest way to cool down is to keep the sun’s radiant heat off your body. A hat with a wide brim can protect your face and shoulders from the sun’s rays. Even if you don’t want to wear a beach hat, a baseball cap can keep the sun off your face.

An umbrella is another way to have portable shade. An umbrella isn’t something everyone expects to see on a sunny day, but the shade it provides can keep the sun off your whole body. Direct sunlight can make the air feel 10 to 15 degrees warmer than in the shade.

Use a Cooling Towel

When it is hot and humid, your body’s cooling system doesn’t work efficiently. Humid air keeps sweat from evaporating, so we need other ways to cool ourselves. An air-conditioned golf cart might be nice, but there are other ways to cool your body down on hot days.

Since you already have a small cooler in your golf cart, use it to keep your body cool in addition to your drinks. Keep a small towel in the ice. Between holes or between strokes, you can put the cool towel on your neck or head where your blood vessels are close to the surface. That will cool your whole body down.

Sweat can also interfere with your game. It can make your hands slippery or drip into your eyes while you’re lining up for a shot. Use your cool towel to wipe away sweat, too. Consider bringing a second set of golf gloves, too. If your first set gets soaked, you can change into something dry. It can be the difference between a great shot and landing in the rough.

No one wants to stop playing golf just because it’s hot. Don’t let heat and humidity keep you indoors when you’d rather be on the links.

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