By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- This week’s field at the 93rd PGA Championship will be battling more than nerves, their fellow competitors and a tremendously challenging Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club. The 156 players who will tee it up for “Glory’s Last Shot” also will battle the stifling Georgia heat and humidity.
Of course, it’s no secret -- golf in mid-August is going to be warm, to say the least (the occasional visit to Whistling Straits notwithstanding.) Depending on the weather service you viewed, early week temperatures have reached anywhere from the mid to high 90s with near-100 percent humidity.
It’s hard enough to walk one hole, much less play 18 -- four consecutive days. But the players will be ready.
“It’s really all about having a plan,” said PGA Director of Fitness David Donatucci. “The more you can prepare yourself before your round, the better off you’re going to be. To know when and how much you need to drink is going to be critical.”
Donatucci says there are guidelines for players to follow to maximize hydration levels and performance.
“My recommendation is five ounces of water on every tee box, especially in heat like this. (This averages out to about four bottles of water per round.).
“Dehydration is going to knock off 10 percent of your performance,” Donatucci explained. “Think about a 150-yard shot and if you’re dehydrated, you may strike the shot just like always and you still lose 10 percent. That’s 15 yards. That’s the difference between a putt for birdie or finding the water.”
Staying properly hydrated is only half the equation. The other half will be wearing the proper attire.
“Our Dri-FIT apparel is specifically designed for conditions like this, to keep players cool and wick moisture from the player as they sweat,” explained Kim Thale, a sports marketing field rep from Nike Golf. “The material will not cling to your skin, it has plenty of venting and it keeps moisture off of the player. All of these will be vital this week. Additionally, our Dri-FIT apparel provides UV protection as well, so from an attire perspective, our players are well-prepared.”
Nike Golf, which is the top-selling golf apparel brand, works hard with its players to develop clothing that not only looks good but can maximize their golf performance. The players have responded enthusiastically.
“I can't imagine not having Nike Dri-FIT,” said Paul Casey, “especially this week with the heat and humidity we have in Atlanta.” Casey reiterated that knowing his attire would help his performance, and -- even more, not hinder it -- was a huge asset to his preparation.
“I don't have to worry about staying cool and dry throughout my round” he said. “There truly isn't anything better."
Donatucci agreed that the clothes play a large part in dealing with the heat while playing top golf.
“The new apparel that keeps players drier, that takes the sweat away from the body, those are great. You don’t want clothes to hang on you. The heavier clothing, those can really cause you problems. For lack of a better term, you want to be as ‘naked’ as possible.
You want your body to breathe, take in some airflow. Think of your body performing this function: taking the hot water out and you need to replace it with cool water. Hot water out, cool water in.
Playing conditions like those found this week are not necessarily rare to golf, and every player in the field knew what Atlanta in August would be like coming in. Still, the ability to handle the heat (both competition and climate) will be a determining factor as to who will lift the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday. You can rest assured it will be a player who knows how to stay cool under hot conditions.