Playing in the Heat
By Renee Reinecke, Sports Scientist
Playing golf in the heat can be very taxing and even dangerous. Our bodies have to work so much harder in the heat. The reason for this is due to an elevated core temperature caused by the hot environment and the body constantly fighting to keep the core temperature at a normal level (thermoregulation). This can lead to fatigue and ultimately a decrease in performance.
Seven points to consider when playing golf in the heat to ensure proper preparation for tournaments.
Make use of a damp towel, a cold drink or cold-water submersion to delay the onset of heat stress before the round.
Make sure that you have enough water with you. Replace water and salts that are lost through sweat with a salt solution. Rehidrat (oral rehydrate sachets found at pharmacies) or lemon water can be used to replace electrolytes.
Do not wait until you are thirsty before you take a drink. If you are thirsty, your body is already in a dehydrated state.
Do not drink ice water, as this can interfere with thermoregulation.
Fruits, nuts and biltong are great for on course snacks.
Stay away from heavy, complex carb meals during the round.
Wear loose, lightweight (cotton) material that is light in colour. Wear a wide brimmed hat with a lightly coloured exterior and dark lining.
Make use a damp towel to place on your head or neck for heat dissipation.
Carry an umbrella with you and stay in the shade as much as possible.
Apply sunscreen 15min before you go out into the sun and replace the sunscreen during the round.
Do not consume alcohol before the round and stay away from caffeine (tea & coffee). Stay away from sugary drinks such as powerade, lucozade, fruit juice and gaseous drinks.
Long term preparation:
Higher fitness levels will help to delay the onset of heat stress. Acclimatizing the body to the heat can help improve the body’s ability to perform better in the heat, i.e. train and practice in hot environments.