A Lesson Learned: Beat the Heat

Vijay Singh
Getty Images
Vijay Singh was among the many players dealing with the extreme heat in the Washington, D.C. area during the AT&T National.
Jon Tattersall, PGA

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, July 01, 2012 | 10:03 p.m.


Stop me if you've heard this one before - Tiger Woods wins...again. You've probably heard it 74 times now, a stunning number of victories for Tiger, who may very well go down as the greatest golfer of all time.
Like many of his wins, this one was more about how he adapted to the course and conditions better than the others, not just simply blew them away with superior talent. And what a wild set of circumstances and conditions everyone at Congressional and the AT&T National had to deal with.
Record wind and rain made the course near unplayable Friday night and made crowds impossible for Saturday. Much of the power in the Washington D.C. area was knocked out and many players were having to sleep, eat, prepare for golf without electricity.  On top of that, the record heat meant that it would be both a physically and mentally taxing days for all of them.  And that's when Tiger knew he was in good position for the week. His mental and physical preparation is still second to none. He brought up the 2007 PGA Championship in Tulsa where the entire week saw temperatures over 100 degrees.  He won there too.
So if you're playing golf now, and I hope you are, can you take steps to better prepare yourself?  Of course you can.  Remember, playing in heat means doing the best you can to conserve your energy.  Here are a few tips I tell my students.
1.) Stay hydrated. This is NOT as simple as it sounds. Drinking plenty of fluids during your round will not be enough. You need to actually begin at least one day prior to your round. Possibly even earlier if you're flying to your golf destination. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. 
2.) Wear loose, light-colored clothing made of moisture wicking material. Nike's Dri-Fit apparel works great for shirts and pants, and other brands have their own fabrics that will help keep you cool. The goal here is to keep the clothes breathable and not have it stick to you when you start to sweat. You'll feel more comfortable, stay cooler and play better.
3.) Use sunblock. Much of the newer golf apparel has sunblock technology built in.  In fact, I've even advised players, that have the right type of materials in their shirt, to wear long sleeves on hot days - simply for the sunblocking properties of the clothes. On your skin that is exposed, use some type of sunscreen. SPF 50 is not too much.
4.) Wear a hat. Regular style caps are great; but they're not perfect. The bucket hat with the brim that goes all the way around may be more effective. But a loose, light hat will do wonders in keeping the sun off of you.  It's not just about avoiding sunburn, it's maintaining your energy level.
5.) Eat light, but eat nonetheless. Again, if we want to maintain your concentration and energy levels, starving yourself is not going to help. But the last thing you want is to feel heavy and lethargic due to a big meal before needing to walk around for five or six hours in the hot sun.
6.) Warm up fully but lightly.  You want to be prepared for your round, so hit balls on the range and putt some of the putting green. But don't overexert yourself.  You're going to sap your energy throughout the day. Don't burn it all before you get to the first tee!
All of us that like to play golf know we're going to battle the elements from time to time. Living in Atlanta, I know that oppressive heat doesn't mean that golf has to take a back seat. If you're smart and prepared, you can enjoy some great times on the course where the day may be warm but your game is even hotter. 

Jon Tattersall is President of Golf Performance Partners in Atlanta, GA. Tattersall has worked with several players on the PGA, LPGA and European Tours and is a GOLF Magazine "Top 100" teacher. 

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