Have you ever succumbed to the heat on a golf course? I have suffered heat exhaustion twice and it’s one of the most unpleasant experiences I can remember. Both times I had to quit my game. It also hit me more recently a few years back on a beach in Florida. Here are the warning signs: First you get a low-grade headache. Then when you lean over to pick up a ball or tee one up, the pain gets worse and you feel the pounding and throbbing as blood flows to your head. Next, you start to feel lethargic as energy is drained from your body, and finally, you become nauseated. If you’re lucky enough, you’re back in an air conditioned clubhouse before these conditions worsen into heatstroke. Through some trial and error, I’ve learned to play in the hot weather and if you live in the mid-Atlantic region, you’ll need to work through some significant heat or relinquish a good portion of your golf season. Here’s a must do list for heat.
Anytime the forecast is above 90, pay attention. Generally, I’ll only walk a course if it’s going to max out at 90. Anything hotter requires a riding cart. You’re better off playing earlier before the mid-day heat hits, but my club membership requires me to play after 1:00 p.m. on weekends, and this past Sunday it was 97 degrees and I had a 1:00 p.m. tee time. Your sunscreen, hat, and light-colored clothing are the obvious accoutrements but what’s most important is to thoroughly hydrate BEFORE you go outside. I learned this from a study done by the Israeli army and their performance in the Saini desert during the 1967 Six-Day War. Essentially, if you satiate yourself before physical activity in the heat, you’ll be much more comfortable during the engagement. Check out this quick video:
I will typically drink three 16oz bottles of water over an hour duration before arriving at the course. During COVID, one of the dangerous side effects is that all drinking water has been removed from golf courses. As the summer months advance, this has become an issue; you must have water! To adjust, I’ll load up a cooler with ice, a 32 oz Gatoraid, and five bottles of water before leaving home. I’ll bring the Gatoraid and one water with me for the front nine and replenish at the turn. The cold reload is very welcome for the inward half. Hopefully, you can get to your car and back to the 10th tee without holding up play. This has been critical on days when the drink cart is nowhere to be found. Don’t leave your hydration and your health to chance! Finally, I’ll take 600 mg of Advil before leaving the house and another 600 at the turn. I find it works great to fight off any vestiges of a headache and keeps me on a nice even keel all day.
How a guy like Phil Mickelson wears black shirts and black slacks in the dead of summer is beyond me. I suppose he makes a lot of money to dress that way. Have you ever been sidelined by the heat? Got any strategies to compensate? Please share.