I love playing golf in the summer in Florida. The snowbirds are gone, the prices are lower and I can take my time to enjoy a great day on the course. The greens have gone from burnt to lush because it’s rainy season, making it perfection to play. BUT, it is FLORIDA and the summer heat can be unbearable and those 90+ degree temperatures can quickly turn a pleasant round into a grueling endeavor. However, with proper preparation and smart strategies, you can enjoy your game while staying cool and safe. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to play golf in the summer heat, covering everything from preparation and gear to in-game strategies and post-game recovery.

Preparation: Gear and Hydration

1. Dress Appropriately

Choosing the right clothing is crucial when playing golf in the summer heat. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics such as moisture-wicking polyester or technical blends designed to keep you cool. Light-colored clothing reflects sunlight, helping to keep you cooler than dark colors. Many golf brands offer UV-protective apparel, which can provide an added layer of defense against the sun’s harmful rays. FYI, I always wear long sleeves when I play to lower my sun exposure (I am very light skinned and get mottled with freckles if I don’t).

  • Hats: Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a cap with a neck flap to protect your face and neck from direct sunlight. A ventilated cap can help keep your head cool.
  • Sunglasses: Invest in a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes and reduce glare.
  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on all exposed skin, and remember to reapply every two hours or after sweating.

2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Staying hydrated is paramount when golfing in hot weather. Begin hydrating well before your tee time, and continue drinking water throughout your round. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration. Consider bringing an insulated water bottle or hydration pack to keep your water cool. Additionally, sports drinks can be beneficial for replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat. There are some great new hydration products on the market today!! This is the time to check them out.

3. Plan Your Tee Time Wisely

If possible, schedule your tee times for early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are generally cooler. Avoid playing during the peak heat of the day, typically between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. This not only helps you stay cooler but can also lead to a more enjoyable and less crowded round of golf. I used to have a group that would meet at 6 a.m. for a little breakfast and a quick 9 holes before the sun got too hot.

On the Course: Strategies to Stay Cool

1. Take Advantage of Shade

Whenever possible, seek out shaded areas on the course. Trees, covered benches, and golf carts can provide brief respites from the sun. Use these opportunities to cool down and rest, especially if you start feeling overheated.

2. Use a Cooling Towel

Cooling towels are a fantastic tool to help you stay cool on the course. These towels can be soaked in water, wrung out, and then placed around your neck or over your head. They provide an immediate cooling effect and can help regulate your body temperature. Many cooling towels are designed to stay cool for extended periods, making them perfect for a long round of golf.

3. Maintain a Steady Pace

While it’s important to keep up with the pace of play, don’t rush through your round. Playing too quickly can lead to fatigue and overheating. Instead, maintain a steady, comfortable pace, and take breaks as needed. Listen to your body and rest if you start feeling too hot or tired.

4. Use a Golf Umbrella

A large golf umbrella can provide portable shade wherever you go on the course. Not only does it shield you from the sun, but it can also keep you dry in case of a sudden summer shower. Look for umbrellas with UV protection for added sun defense.

Golfing Techniques and Adjustments

1. Adjust Your Game Strategy

The heat can affect both your physical performance and the condition of the course. Adjust your game strategy to accommodate these changes. For instance, the ball may travel farther in hot weather due to the lower air density. Take this into account when selecting clubs and planning your shots.

2. Focus on Your Form

Hot weather can lead to fatigue and sloppy swings. Focus on maintaining good form and technique throughout your round. Take practice swings to ensure you’re not rushing or making unnecessary mistakes. Staying relaxed and composed can help you conserve energy and play more efficiently.

3. Use a Golf Cart Wisely

If you’re using a golf cart, take advantage of it to conserve energy. Ride between shots and use the shade of the cart when waiting. However, avoid relying too heavily on the cart to the point where you’re not warming up or stretching your muscles. Strike a balance between riding and walking to keep your body engaged without overexerting yourself.

Post-Game Recovery

1. Rehydrate and Refuel

After your round, rehydrate thoroughly. Drink plenty of water and consider a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes. Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol, as these can further dehydrate you. This is no weather to be sitting in the 19th hole with your buddies having a beer.  A healthy post-game snack, such as fruit or a protein bar, can help restore your energy levels.

2. Cool Down

Take time to cool down after your game. Find a shaded area or head indoors to an air-conditioned space. A cool shower can also help lower your body temperature and provide relief from the heat. I generally go straight home and jump into the pool for an all-over cooling.

3. Stretch and Rest

Gently stretch your muscles to prevent stiffness and promote recovery. Pay attention to areas that may have been overworked during your round, such as your shoulders, back, and legs. Resting in a cool, comfortable environment can help your body recover and prepare for your next round of golf.

Additional Tips and Tricks

1. Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness

Understanding the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, is crucial. Early signs include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and headache. If you or your playing partners experience these symptoms, stop playing immediately, find a cool place, and hydrate. Severe symptoms, such as confusion, fainting, or a rapid pulse, require immediate medical attention.

2. Stay Informed

Check the weather forecast before heading out to the course. Be aware of heat advisories and extreme weather conditions. If the forecast predicts dangerously high temperatures, consider rescheduling your game for a safer time.

3. Play Smart

Remember that playing golf in the summer heat requires smart decision-making. Prioritize your health and safety above all else. If the heat becomes too intense, don’t hesitate to cut your round short. It’s better to end your game early than to risk heat-related health issues.

Conclusion

Playing golf in the summer heat can be a rewarding experience if approached with the right preparation and mindset. By dressing appropriately, staying hydrated, and using strategies to stay cool, you can enjoy your game while minimizing the risks associated with hot weather. Adjust your gameplay to accommodate the conditions, and always listen to your body’s signals. With these tips in mind, you can confidently tackle the challenges of summer golf and make the most of your time on the course. Stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy your game!

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