How to enjoy a round of golf safely in hot and sunny conditions

You may be looking at the title of this article and thinking that the answer is self-evident; who would not enjoy 18-holes of fabulous golf in glorious weather? That is certainly very true, but to enjoy the game, you do need to factor in the effect of the weather.


Usually in golf, this means making adjustments to our shots for damper conditions on the fairway, or windy conditions in the air above. However, it is just as important to ensure you are prepared for hot and sunny conditions out on a course as without the right preparation, a day’s pleasant golfing in the hot sun can quickly turn into a real test of will and occasionally, even be life threatening.


This is especially the case if you are from climates where warm sunshine is notable by its rarity and where people are less prepared for the effects of hot weather when out in direct sunshine for 4-5 hours.


So, enjoy your golf responsibly in the sun by taking the following tips:




1. Always carry and apply sun cream at regular intervals around the course.

Over-exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays can seriously damage the skin, from mild sunburn to third-degree burns and even skin cancer in some of the worst cases. Protecting your exposed skin from the sun is vital, even if you have skin that can seemingly tolerate the most glorious of weather conditions. Apply sun protection lotion to all your exposed skin before and during the round at regular intervals and you’ll finish the round with your skin in the same perfect condition as you started.


Always remember to apply sun lotion to your ears and face, especially if you wear a cap! Blistered, sun-scorched ears are no laughing matter!


2. Check the weather forecast closely

It may look gloriously sunny and be baking hot, but in some parts of the world, it does not take much for a severe downpour or thunderstorm to brew up and you do not want to be out on a golf course if torrential rain hits and you are ill-prepared for it, or worse still, thunder starts.


If there is even a slight risk of showers, then don’t leave the brolly in the car. Take it with you. Not only will it protect you if a shower does strike, but it also provides some relief in the form of shade from the sun if it is too warm too.  If thunderstorms are forecast, or you see lightning and hear thunder. Don’t carry on playing. Take cover immediately by heading off the course.



3. Carry plenty of fluids

It is easy to underestimate how much fluid the human body needs in order to function effectively in hot weather. One small bottle of drink is not going to be enough to sustain you over 18-holes of golf in very warm conditions. If you can, stock up your golf bag with plenty of fluids before the round starts, or if you know there will be drinks available around the course, take advantage of them.  Rehydrate as often as you can – you’ll be losing a lot of water through sweating on the course and this can drastically effect your physical and mental abilities if you start to dehydrate.


4. If you are easily burned or have fair skin, cover up.

Shorts may seem like a good idea for the fair skinned, but if you have a tendency to burn easily, then it is wisest to cover up your legs at the very least. Leave the shorts and wear a pair of light, comfortable natural trousers and you won’t have to worry about your legs being burned. Keep applying sun cream liberally and often.



5. Don’t forget the insect repellent

Unfortunately, it is not just us humans that enjoy the warmer weather. Balmy summer’s evenings around the golf course, especially near standing water, ponds and lakes are an ideal place for all sorts of our little biting friends. As a precaution, give yourself a liberal coating with insect repellent before and during play to dissuade mosquitoes, midges and other biting nasties taking too much of an interest in your flesh.


If you suffer badly with insect bites, it may be worth investing in some allergy tablets before venturing out onto the course in case of a more severe reaction and swelling. Anti-histamines are available in most countries directly over the counter but if you are in any doubt about a bite, seek medical help.


6. Take an extra golf towel or two with you.

When it is hot, you will sweat especially if you are dragging a 15-20kg bag of clubs and balls around with you up and down hills for six miles. Sweat running into the eyes can irritate, so on hot days always carry a spare golf towel or too. One you can wet with your ample supply of water to keep yourself cool and to wash off excess sweat and another to dry your face with after you’ve washed.



7. If it is excessively hot – use a golf cart and take a break when you can.

If you really feel walking around the course is not viable in the heat, then a golf cart is by far the most sensible option. Not only is it far more comfortable, but most offer a degree of shade from the sun and you get a nice breeze in your face when driving them. Taking a break is also advisable. Many courses have the front nine play out and then come back in towards the club house. If that is the case, why not go and freshen up in the club house before teeing off at the tenth? Have a wash, perhaps change your shirt, if you have brought a spare one, enjoy a cold drink and restock your supply of fresh, cool water. Even just a 10-15 minute break out of the heat can reinvigorate you for the back nine.


8. If you feel the effects of over-exposure to the sun, stop playing immediately, drink plenty of water and head back to the clubhouse.

Over-exposure to the sun is no laughing matter, sunstroke is a nasty condition and if you start to feel faint, woozy, sick or otherwise ill, it is time to stop the round and get back into cooler conditions as quickly as possible. Don’t drive if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, ask a friend to drive you home, or call a cab, or someone to come and pick you up. Drink plenty of water too and you should hopefully start to feel better as your body begins to rehydrate and regulate its temperature once again.



9. Take the conditions into account when selecting clubs

As well as precautions to safeguard your health on course, you also need to factor in the conditions when you are playing. In sunnier weather the balls tend to fly further, the greens and fairways also tend to be much harder and as such balls do tend to run on a lot further. You need to take this into consideration when making club selection. A shot that is perhaps a good seven-iron on soft greens and fairways, may be an eight-iron on much firmer ground with less wind blowing.


10. Walk in the shaded parts of the course, rather than in direct sunlight.

Finally, if you are out on the course, then seek shelter whenever you can. There is no law that says you have to walk from tee to green down the middle of the fairway in the direct glare of the sun. Instead, head into the trees or shade and walk in the shadow. Take relief from the sun whenever you can and you’ll not only not suffer the extremes of the heat, but you’ll enjoy a better and more relaxed game too.


Images Courtesy of Author, Gorilla Golf Blog, Golfers Suncream by Seabase EU, People 


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golf teaching aids August 22, 2013

Very much appreciate your insights on this very important topic. I feel like the author has in depth understanding in this subject matter. Thanks for sharing the great tips.


Olivia Mak October 11, 2013

Great article, thanks. These tips were a life-saver when my husband and I went on our first trip to play golf in Las Vegas</a. Another great tip is to replace fluids with coconut water, its a tasty and all natural way to replace electrolytes.

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