July 9, 2010
This past week’s heat wave did not appear to deter many Cape Region golfers, to judge from personal experience.
Thanks to a mix-up in messaging, I showed up at Shawnee Country Club July 5 to find that my usual playing group was already well underway. They had joined up with several other golfers who came to Shawnee that morning, to take advantage of the Monday holiday.
Just after those foursomes cleared the first tee, a few dozen members of the regular ball-tosser group that plays on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays came pouring out of the clubhouse.
I grabbed a bag of balls and headed to the range, hoping that the last foursome of this gang would be off the tee by the time I finished warming up. The sunny day was already in the low 90s, so there was plenty to be warmed up about before my round’s first official stroke.
When it’s that hot, and you are playing by yourself behind seven or eight foursomes who are not setting any speed records, there are many opportunities to consider the weather, its effect on your game, and what you can do about it.
Here are some common tips for hot weather golf.
The two big risks are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The first condition is often caused by exercise in a hot and humid environment. The higher the humidity, the less your body is rely upon its normal self-cooling system of sweating, which cools the body as the moisture evaporates. If you don’t replace the fluids your body continues to sweat out, you can experience shock-like symptoms.
Heat stroke is more dangerous. It can come on quite rapidly in its victims, often the elderly and the very young in its classic form. For others, heat stroke can also occur with exertion in a hot environment.
Heat exhaustion can produce symptoms such as cold, clammy skin, muscle cramps, dizziness, and profuse sweating. Heat stroke, on the other hand, may not produce much sweating, but it can create disorientation, hyperventilation, and skin that feels dry to the touch.
The suggested treatments also vary, but golfers should call the pro shop as soon as possible if their golfing partners show signs of succumbing to either of these dangerous conditions.
While waiting for help in cases of heat exhaustion, try to have the person rest in a shaded area, drink cool non-alcoholic fluids, and loosen their clothing. For heat stroke, the medical authorities suggest moving the person to a cool environment, while fanning them to cool their skin. Drink offers should only be made if the victim appears to be mentally alert.
To help ward off these conditions, I wear light-colored clothes on very hot days. If it’s over 90 degrees, I usually rent a cart, and wait for cooler weather to indulge my preference for walking the course.
I switch golf hats at the end of the ninth hole, because the first hat’s headband is usually soaked through by then. I also switch my golf gloves on alternating holes, to help keep them dry enough. Other friends swear by rain gloves on really hot days, to keep their grips from slipping.
There are some advantages to playing in very hot weather. For example, as you lean over to make a putt, you can wait until a drop of sweat rolls down and off your nose. It’s a great way to tell if your head is centered over the back of the ball, even if it’s also a little bit distracting.
Drinking plenty of water helps, but not in huge gulps. I feel better if I take a sip or two after each shot, and make sure I drink at least a pint or so every four to five holes.
Waiting until the evening may not be all that helpful. In our Tuesday twilight golf league match July 6, it was 103 degrees at 5:30. By the time we finished, the temperature dropped to a balmy 93.
It wasn’t quite sweater weather, but it was a noticeable improvement nonetheless.