Hot weather helpers for golfers
In Colorado, summer isn’t about the humidity, it’s about the heat! Compared to the altitude of our coastal golfing friends, our elevation puts us a mile closer to the sun, adding heat stroke, sunburn and skin cancer to our list of on-course hazards. We still want to play 18, though! With helpful advice from Dr. Owen Ellis, a scratch golfer at Flatirons, here are five strategies to help us do just that.
- Start with full nutrition. “Focusing on hydration only is like practicing by only going to the range and never the putting green,” says Dr. Ellis. “We should address full nutrition, including water, electrolytes and energy.” So, be sure to eat a balanced meal and drink plenty of water (even more water if you’re having coffee, a diuretic) before your round. “If you arrive at the course with a need to visit the restroom and your stomach is not growling, it is a good start,” he notes.
- Eat snacks and drink water as you go. “I use water and snacks like energy bars, jerky, lightly salted nuts, fresh fruit,” Dr. Ellis says. Math lovers: The rule of thumb is a half-ounce of water per pound of body weight daily, baseline, and then double that for walking 18 on a hot day. If you’re not looking for the bathroom by the fifth hole, increase water consumption until you need one. As for the typical turn choices of hot dog, chips and beer or coke, Dr. Ellis says they’re better than nothing. Barely. He also warns that sports drinks with electrolytes, while helpful, have sugar, which requires water to process, and generally lack nutrition. So do not think of those as snacks. “Specialty drinks are great for runners whose exertions are so heavy that digestion is difficult,” he says. “Golfers do not really have this issue.” Drink enough water, he says, so that you are always wondering where is the next bathroom, and be sure to refill your bottle whenever you see a water source. As for the water temperature, ice cold vs. cool: “Cool water is marginally better, but only marginally. Drink whichever gets you to consume the most water.” Keep all this up until well after the round.
- Bring shade but leave the ice pack at home. Find an umbrella that doubles with reflection of the Colorado sun and protection from Colorado storms, and use it to make shade on the fairway. But ice packs, Dr. Ellis says, don’t change your body temperature as much as you might think, and if applied to the skin can even reduce blood flow for less help. “We have a very good system for maintaining normal body function without special inputs,” he says. “It is human physiology.” On the other hand, a walk through the sprinklers might simulate sweat and cause you to lose less water.
- Cover up. OF COURSE YOU’RE WEARING SUNSCREEN, YOU’RE IN COLORADO! But, Dr. Ellis says, “Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.” This is not just about skin protection. I did an experiment once and found that my covered arm felt cooler than my uncovered arm! Manufacturers haven’t created many fashion options yet, but you can now find white sun sleeves in some pro shops and all the big golf stores. Wet them down at the turn to catch a second wind.
- Cover your ears. This is not about your cartmate’s choice of music, but a golfing dermatologist’s stern warning: The ears have our most overexposed and underprotected skin, and thus are particularly vulnerable to skin cancer. Women have many attractive, functional hat options with brims. Men, the bucket has made a comeback, but if it’s not for you, at least give the ears extra sunblock love before and during your round.
Veteran journalist Susan Fornoff has written about golf for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, ColoradoBiz magazine and her own GottaGoGolf.com. She became a CGA member when she moved from Oakland, CA, to Littleton in 2016, and ghost-writes as “Molly McMulligan,” the CGA’s on-course consultant on golf for fun. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that you’re cool, sign up for one of the CGA’s summer events!
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