How to Protect Yourself From the Sun When Playing Golf
WE ALL love to feel the sun on our backs when we play golf. It’s hardly surprising, especially if you happen to be one of those hardy characters who plays all year round, suffering in the cold and wet during the winter. So when the skies turn blue, the mercury begins to rise and the sun beats down, we all want to get out there and make the most of it. Why on earth, then, do so many of us fail to apply some common sense when we are out on the sun?
Playing golf without sunscreen results in the skin burning pretty quickly, in as little as 15 to 20 minutes depending on your skin tone. Those who have fair skin will burn faster than those who have an olive or darker skin tone. But whatever skin tone we have, we all burn. And if you play golf in the sun on a regular basis and without proper protection then you are putting yourself at massive risk. It simply isn’t worth it.
Ask yourself this question: do I really do everything I should to protect myself from the sun’s rays? The chances are that most of people will admit that they fail to do so. Here, we give you some advice which, if followed, should ensure that you don’t put yourself at risk. None of it is rocket science and it is hugely surprising that so many golfers fail to take sensible precautions.
Let’s be honest - if you were playing golf in, say, Spain or Portugal, you would protect yourself. The summer of 2018 was a scorcher in the UK and many, many golfers suffered sunburn - and even worse. Sunstroke is also a real possibility if you are out on a golf course for four hours without protection. And, of course, in the longer term, you put yourself in danger of contracting skin cancer. None of this is funny. All of it is avoidable.
There are two types of UV rays.
UVA – this is the reason you may see darkening age spots, wrinkles or feel a bit sick after too much sun. UVA ray’s soak into the skin so deeply that it can actually effect your immune system.
UVB – these are the rays that cause sunburn.
Certain types of people are more at risk, and it is worth knowing. Skin cancer of all kinds is associated with exposure to the sun. Even a suntan is harmful. Sunburn hurts the skin and although it may look good it serves as an outward sign of internal skin damage. While light-skinned people have a greater risk of getting melanoma, this disease is increasing among people with darker skin. Regardless of what colour you are there are characteristics which make some more susceptible than others:
- Being blonde
- Having blue eyes
- Having freckles
- Being burnt before
- Having a history of skin cancer in the family
And sun damage doesn’t only cause cancer but also premature ageing, sun spots and solar elastosis – a loosening of the connective tissues – causing wrinkles and loose, sagging skin.
So what should you do?
First and foremost, do not head out there without water - and plenty of it. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. You should top up your water levels frequently and you should never feel thirsty. At all costs, avoid taking alcohol out on the golf course. Nobody wants to spoil your fun, but knocking back bottles or cans of beer in hot weather will dehydrate you.
Wear a hat. It is a fallacy that only bald men should protect their heads. All of us should wear a cap or hat to protect our scalps from the sun and also to shield our eyes from its harmful rays.
And why on earth do so many tour professionals wear sunglasses on the back of their heads? We all know that the top players have lucrative contracts that require them to be seen with sunglasses. That is all well and good, but if you are playing golf on a hot sunny day, why on earth would you not want to actually wear the things? There are those who complain that it is difficult to focus on the ball when wearing sunglasses. There are a couple of options - either take them off when you are playing a shot, or shop around until you find a pair with lenses that allow you to see the ball clearly while protecting your eyes.
Do you have sunscreen in your golf bag? If not, why not? Most dermatologists recommend the use of an SPF 30 sunscreen or higher, especially if you’ll be exposed to the sun for a long period of time. If you plan on being outside for an entire day, SPF 50 is recommended. When you play golf it’s easy to sweat off your sunscreen so try to apply, and re-apply often. Find a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, waterproof and has broad spectrum protection.
You may feel that it is “sissy” to wear factor 50. You may not really want to slap it on. Why? It is obvious that it should be applied in generous measures to your arms, but if you are wearing shorts or a skirt then you should also apply it to your legs.
And then there is your face. Make sure your nose is properly protected - it is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body, and nose cancer is common. You should also apply plenty of sunscreen to the back of your neck, which is another especially vulnerable area.
A golf top will not prevent the sun from burning your torso. Before you head out to the first tee, ensure that sunscreen is applied to your back and torso.
When you get into the clubhouse, put on some aftersun - and DON’T drink endless pints of beer either.
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