Golf is a great outdoor sport. It affords us the opportunity to enjoy beautiful scenery, fresh air and other wonderful things that nature provides. We all love to golf in the bright sun with a slight breeze to keep things cool. However, when the temperature starts to push into the 30s Celsius, things start to heat up on the course!
Yesterday, I was playing a mid-afternoon round at Roundel Glen Golf Course. It was 31 degrees Celsius for the entire round with little or no breeze for most of the round. I was walking and pushing my cart. As the round progressed, I found that many aspects of my game started to strain. We talk about golfing in colder weather often, however it is no less challenging hitting the links in the heat!
The heat presents many challenges for golfers. It is our best friend, who does not like playing golf in the warm weather, and is our worst enemy. The following is how I am affected by the heat:
- Mental Game. As the round progresses, my mental capacity starts to dwindle. Mostly because of fatigue, but my ability to think through challenges increases in difficulty. Also, my club selection sometimes suffers because I think I am hitting the ball the same way as when fresh, but that is rarely the case.
- Fatigue. I tire easily. I find that by hole 14, even the slightest exertion starts to take a toll. I am not near any crashing point, but I do find that my recovery time extends because I am tired.
- Skin Sensitivity. Of course the sun will burn my skin and that is a very important concern, however I am talking about when grass or twigs rub against my legs or arms. It is not because I am allergic, my skin is more sensitive to contact.
- Perspiration. I sweat a fair bit. I find that sweat (mixed with sunscreen) gets in my eyes and my clothes stick to my body (mostly in my shoulder area).
- Flexibility. As the round progresses, I become less flexible. My turns become shorter and my ability to extend my club head out along my target line becomes more challenging.
A perfect example of how these stressors affected my game happened yesterday. I was playing from the tips in a threesome. I met up with Ted and Stewart on the 3rd hole and they asked me to join them and I happily did. Both were great guys to play with and I thoroughly enjoyed my round and getting to know Ted and Stewart.
They were in a cart and I was walking (as previously mentioned). I had a fantastic round going through 12 holes. I was 1 over (with a lost ball) and hitting the ball very well. My approach shots were solid and my putting was excellent (28 putts all day). Suddenly, at the 13th hole, I started to fatigue. I first noticed because my cheeks were starting to tingle and I was slightly out of breath after climbing up a small hill to the elevated green. It seemed from that point forward, I slowly became more fatigued until I was noticeably tired heading down the last hole.
The heat definitely impacted my score. During the first 12 holes, I shot 2 birdies, 1 bogey, 1 double, and 8 pars. The last 6 holes, I shot 3 pars and 3 bogeys (I bogeyed 2 Par 5s in the last 4 holes). My game started to deteriorate and my worsening score was the result. I was not as well prepared as normal for yesterday’s round, however, I can guarantee you that I am ready now!
To beat the heat, most golfers should take precautions. It is important to understand your limitations on playing in the heat. These tips are not the end all and my list is not all inclusive. I am describing what I do to beat the heat. Here it goes:
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after a round of golf in the heat. I use water and try to avoid anything sugary, caffeinated, or with alcohol. Water has always been best for me on the course.
- Eat something light. I like to eat a banana or apple on the course. One around the 5th hole and one around the 14th hole. I find that I need something and fruit provides the best energy lift I need when playing.
- Wear a hat. I wear a ball cap. I have worn a wide-brimmed hat before, but I find it gets in the way of my swing. I do not wear a visor because the sun still beats down on the top of my head! I always wear a hat regardless of the temperature.
- Sunscreen. Wear sunscreen; enough said!
- Hit the Shade. I find the shade as much as possible. If very little shade is available, I open my umbrella and attach it to my cart. The umbrella offers some relief, but shade from the trees is best.
- Wet Towel. Periodically, I will have a wet towel to place around my neck while moving in between shots. I do not use a towel often, but I have in the past.
- Light Clothing. I wear light moisture wicking shirts and shorts, plus a light-colored shirt if possible. Selecting the correct clothing is beneficial to beat the heat.
- Don’t Play. Yup, you heard me. I do not play if it is too hot or I am not feeling up to par. Sometimes it is best to avoid the course and enjoy the beach, pool, or backyard to beat the heat.
Beating the heat will help improve your golf scores. The above list is not all-inclusive, however it will help you play better golf in hot temperatures. The trick to these tips is to adopt them for your game. Everyone is different, however the heat does affect everyone in one capacity or another. It is up to you to determine your strategy to beat the heat.
In case you are wondering, here is The Grateful Golfer Community poll on playing temperatures:
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!