November 19, 2017

Tips on Playing Golf in the Hot St. George Desert Sun

desert sun golfing in Utah  There are many tips for staying safe in the sun, and many tips for how to improve your golf game, but what if you would like to do both at the same time? Golf is a sport that is played outdoors in many different settings, climates and weather conditions around the world, so what is useful and practical in Florida, may not be very helpful in Scotland, for example.

Golf in the desert can be a unique and rewarding experience, so read on for some general sun safety tips when playing golf and  some desert specific tips if you happen to be playing in the St George area- there are plenty of fabulous courses to choose from!

The first rule of sun safety is to try and avoid being directly exposed during the peak periods, so if you can tee off early in the morning, later in the afternoon or even early evening, you limit your exposure and risk during the highest UV periods.  Wear a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 and always remember to apply it at least half an hour before you head to the first tee. For easy reference, you should use an amount of sunscreen equal to about the size of a golf ball- this should be adequate for many people to cover exposed skin, especially if long sleeves and long pants are worn.  (While you are considering your clothing choices keep in mind the dress code for the particular course you are planning to play at.)

Now that you have protected your skin, don’t forget to wear a hat,  sunglasses and even lip balm. Lip balm  comes with different SPF factors, so check out the labels when you are shopping.  Different materials  used in making clothing have various UV-blocking capabilities, so bear that in mind- just because your arms are covered by fabric doesn’t necessarily mean that you are completely protected. Tighter weaves offer more protection. And you can probably find some suitable material in your favorite golf print, so you won’t have to sacrifice style for safety!

In between shots, you can seek shelter under some nearby trees, a handy umbrella, or even a cart roof if you happen to be driving around the course in style! There is usually a patch of shade to be found somewhere nearby. Be creative!

Although bringing your own refreshments in is generally not allowed at golf courses, a bottle of water may be an exception. Keeping well hydrated with water is one of the best things you can do to stay safe when enjoying a few holes on a summer day. Drinking other liquids, especially alcoholic beverages should be limited- save your celebratory beverages for the Clubhouse after you are out of the sun, but take a few sips of water at every hole if possible.

The human body is generally very good at protecting itself and maintaining a healthy balance, but under extreme heat conditions, often when they are prolonged, the body can lose its ability to compensate, and a potentially life -threatening situation can develop in the form of heat stroke.  Generally heat exhaustion will occur first, when the body is still compensating, but is under stress. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include cramping, headache, nausea and fatigue. This can progress to the more dangerous heat stroke which can have symptoms including rapid pulse and breathing, hot, dry, red skin, confusion and even loss of consciousness. Seek medical help immediately in this case, but it is best to avoid it by staying protected and well-hydrated.

In addition to general golf sun safety, there are some desert specific tips which may be useful. Some desert courses have a “desert rule” which means simply that desert area is considered a water hazard and is played accordingly with penalty strokes. Speaking of water, if you are hot, it may be tempting to refresh yourself in a water hazard, but this is not advisable- bring along a wet towel instead to stay cool.

When taking your shot, if you are on uneven or rocky ground in the desert be especially aware of your footing and plan your shot in a way that keeps you safe first of all- slips and falls will not take any strokes off your game!

A desert golf course can be a beautiful experience, but be mindful of each courses rules concerning driving carts in desert areas- if in doubt, stick to marked paths and take a sight-seeing tour after the 18th hole in a local tourist site.  And there are many unusual species of flora and fauna in desert areas, but not all of them are friendly, so err on the side of caution when encountering unfamiliar creatures or plants.

With a bit of preparation and attention to safety, playing in the desert sun can be a “par”-fectly wonderful experience, so grab your sunscreen, water and clubs , and head on out!

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