Too hot to play? Don’t want to sweat through another practice session? Clouds chasing you away? How many excuses do you make to avoid playing or practicing your golf game in the middle of the summer? Golfing the Dog Days of Summer can be frustrating but should never get in the way of continuing your enjoyment of the game and your sustained improvement. Want to find a way to make golfing the dog days of summer fun again? Here are 8 simple ideas to beat the heat and the summer showers.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – What more can I say? Whether you’re in a humid or dry climate, extreme outdoor temperatures forces your body to cool itself, eluding sweat from every part of your body to keep your core temperature under control. It does not take much for your body to experience heat exhaustion. I witnessed heat exhaustion earlier this summer at one of my son’s baseball games, when he turned a whitish shade of gray after catching 11+ innings. Had he stayed hydrated, he may have kept playing. Same goes for the golfer. Golfing the Dog Days of Summer requires you to keep a steady stream of water and electrolytes passing through your metabolic system, allowing your body to function normally, your brain to process information at a normal rate, and your emotions to keep you in check. Depending upon the authority you choose, hydration suggestions vary, but the rule of thumb is to be sure you are hydrated before going to the course, and be sure you are getting a 6-8 ounces water or half-and-half sport drink (half sport drink/half water), at least every other hole, to make it completely through the round.
- Early and Late Keeps it Straight – Golfing the Dog Days of Summer typically includes tee times early or late in the day. Early morning tee times are normally a bit more expensive but provide the rest of the day to plan other activities. Tee Times after 4:30PM, especially if you live close to the western edge of a time zone border, can be one of the best times to play 18-holes, allowing plenty of sunlight and gorgeous sunsets along the way. In some parts of the Southeast, you have to dodge the afternoon or early evening thunderstorm, but afterwards you’ll enjoy the significance of the rain cooling everything down to the temperature you missed earlier that morning.
- Paid in Shade – Unless you want to beat yourself up with more heat, seek the sanctity and comfort of the shade whenever possible. Sounds like a no brainer but I’m always surprised when I see golfers waiting in the middle of the fairway for the group ahead when the cooling shade of a tree is only a few yards away. I once experience a 40° temperature difference in air temp when conducting a golf school in Las Vegas, simply by pulling my cart under a large shaded area in front of a cart shed. It was welcome relief. Shade is nature’s way of cooling us and should be taken advantage of whenever possible. No shade available? Beyond hitting chip shots into an open umbrella, there are other uses for that piece of equipment when it’s not raining.
- Practice as You Play – You don’t go to the course and hit 75 shots in 10-minutes, so why do so on the range? You’re asking for the heat to beat you up if you do. Think about it, if you hit 75 shots in one round, there is at least 90-seconds or more in between each shot to travel to where your ball is lying, think about what you’re going to do, and execute the next shot. When Golfing the Dog Days of Summer, why not use the same strategy to practice, hitting fewer but more effective shots? Its simple to do, puts less strain on your body, and can actually be more beneficial to your overall success if you orient your practice sessions to being more accurate hitting targets. Set up a shot, think about it, be sure to take dead aim, and execute the shot. Take your time evaluating each shot, taking sip of water every 5-6 shots. Then set another one up and repeat the process. Limiting each club to 5-6 shots and working your way through half your bag one session, the other half of your bag during another session, could help reduce scores and the amount of water your body drains to supplement the practice range’s irrigation system.
- Dry Light Clothing, Heavy on the Light Colors – There are so many clothing options on the market now to help you wick sweat away from your body and keep you cool. No matter what the type of clothing you feel most comfortable in, be sure it is light in weight and features light colors to reflect the heat. Resist heavy fabrics and dark colors, which absorb heat and increases your body’s core temperature. Being the black knight in the middle of August is only for those who are looking to prove the point that they are not aware of the elements, only their propensity to sweat.
- Protect the Sun, Screen the Screen – Goes without saying that sunscreen is a must to protect your body against the harmful rays of the sun. But not all sun screen is created equal. Staying on the hydration theme, I have found the best sun screen to be a bit more expensive than what you purchase in big box stores, but well worth the price, water based, not oil based, and contains a balanced offering of ingredients that can withstand a couple of hours of sweat. How does that happen? Before golfing the dog days of summer, apply the sunscreen at home approximately 5-minutes before getting into your vehicle, or as soon as you arrive at the golf course. Applying sun screen to clean relatively dry skin allows time for your skin to interact with the ingredients within the sun screen and be more effective. And don’t forget to review the ingredients and insure the sun screen includes either zinc oxide, ecamsule, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone, and protects you to SPF factor of at least 30.
- Towels Cool the Loin and the Blood – One of the newer products to hit the market are the cooling towels you see at big box, home supply, and sporting goods stores. Made from materials that are super absorbent that allow water to evaporate at a slower speed, these towels placed on the back of the neck can instantly give you a chill and can keep your body core temperature down almost as well as keeping hydrated. You can do the same with a cloth towel, but those materials tends to drip more and will evaporate quicker, requiring you to drench yourself more often.
- Eat to the Heat – Your body not only uses more of its liquid resources in the heat, it uses more fuel to keep you cool. Golfing the Dog Days of Summer should not be a permission slip to skip meals to lose weight. There are foods that will keep your body cooler, such as fruits and vegetables that have high water contents, or dried fruits and whole grain trail mixes you can snack on throughout the round. Be careful at the turn and resist the hamburger or other meal high in protein. It will only make you hotter. Save it for after the round.
Golfing the Dog Days of Summer can be a very enjoyable past time, so long as you are preparing yourself and the others you’re playing with for the elements your going to experience. Use common sense, pay attention to what your body is telling you, and keep moderation as a guide, and you’ll never know your golfing during a heat wave.