Master the Course

Beat the Heat

By Jon Tattersall, PGA
Published on
Vijay Singh with towel on head

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

Whatever conditions the weather delivers—and there have been PGA Championships where many if not all days saw temperatures over 100 degrees—not to mention power failures and other unforeseen circumstances, they key for players is to be prepared, mentally and physically for less-than-ideal conditions.
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 athletes:.
  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 the right clothing
    Choose 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 them 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 who have the right type of materials in their shirt, to wear long sleeves on hot days, simply for the sun-blocking 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 about maintaining your energy level.
  5. Eat light, but eat nonetheless
    Again, if you 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 walking 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 on 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 who 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.