Do you want to learn how to protect your skin from the sun while playing golf?
If you’re like most die-hard golfers, you can’t get enough of this crazy game. But one of the few downsides to it is the massive amounts of sun exposure.
If you live in places like Arizona, Florida, or other hot places, it’s even worse than most. While I enjoy the game as much as you do, it’s important to protect your skin so you can avoid the health risks that come with excess exposure.
In fact, according to the Skin Care Foundation, “On average, it has been estimated that professional golfers received 217 times the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation needed to cause a sunburn over the course of the year.”
Even if you aren’t a pro, it’s important to protect your skin to avoid the nasty diseases that come along with it. Here are the best tips to keep you safe so you can keep enjoying the game for the rest of your life.
Golf Sun Protection – 11 Best Tips
1. Plan Your Golf Schedule
Depending on where you’re playing, the first tip is to plan your golf in advance. If you’re a 3 or 4-day a week type of golfer, you really want to plan accordingly. Even if it’s a lower price to play in the afternoon, it’s not worth your health!
I suggest planning your rounds out on Sunday for the following week. This will allow you to check out the 7-day forecast and find the coolest days to hit the links. Plus, you can probably get a better deal by booking in advance as well. Your health is worth the price!
2. Use Tons of Sunscreen
While wearing sunscreen is important, one of the biggest mistakes that so many golfers make is not wearing enough. Several studies have found that very few golfers actually use enough sunscreen to receive full benefits.
While there are endless types of sunscreen, don’t just pick any old kind. Opt for a lotion instead of spray cans and use only a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen that offers SPF 30+ protection. You also want to make sure that it is water-resistant.
Start by using two ounces before you even get to the course. By applying the sunscreen before the round, you’re much more likely to not forget it.
While there are tons of options, I recommend using Skin sunscreen. The lotion version is the absolute best sunscreen that I have ever used. I highly recommend giving this one a shot if you’ve never used it before. Not only is it effective, but the lotion is also one of the only sunscreens I’ve ever used that will not stain your golf shirts (especially white golf shirts).
Lastly, during the round, make sure to reapply the sunscreen several times for additional protection.
3. Stay Hydrated
One of the biggest tips for staying protected and playing well in the heat is to stay hydrated. Studies have found that even slight dehydration can lead to mental fatigue and exhaustion. In golf terms, this could lead to a lack of a pre-shot routine or a lazy swing that could mean a higher score.
To avoid dehydration, make sure to drink tons of water before, during, and after the round. Even the night before you play, load up on an extra 16 ounces or more of water. Then, before the round drink even more water.
You can also bring along a Gatorade or Powerade as well. The extra sodium in these beverages will help offset some of the sweat you lose during the round.
Skip the Booze
You might be thinking… “Skip the booze — no way!” While beer and golf go together like Jack Nicklaus and majors, alcohol dehydrates you which is the last thing you need on a hot day.
While beer is typically at least 90% water, your body wants 100% water, not booze. Not to mention, alcohol is also a natural diuretic that will rob your body of its water reserves and energy. So instead of having your normal beers during the round, save them for the 19th hole alongside even more water.
Also, try to skip the energy drinks or too much coffee as well. Both of these beverages contain lots of caffeine which also dehydrates you. A cup or two of normal coffee won’t do you much harm but a 300mg rockstar or triple espresso will negatively impact performance.
4. Dress For the Heat
Another way to protect your skin golfing is to dress as cool and protective as possible. Choosing the right outerwear is crucial to beating the heat. When it’s hot outside, don’t wear black and other dark-colored outfits. These color choices will only make you feel hotter as well.
While long sleeves and long pants provide the greatest coverage, a lot of golfers will get too hot during the round. Since everyone is different, make sure to plan your outfits accordingly.
I always recommend wearing a hat, light-colored shorts or pants, a loose-fitting shirt, and breathable materials like dri-fit. This type of summer gear will help you stay calm, cool, and protected during the round. (Go here for the best hats for sun protection).
If you want to protect your arms and legs but don’t want to get too hot, I suggest buying a pair of arm or leg sleeves as well. These are available on Amazon at a very low price and really help you avoid sunburn on your arms or legs. Always buy the white ones to stay cool.
The last part of your body to think about is your neck. A cooling golf towel is another one of my favorite items that I suggest keeping close.
You can wrap a towel around your neck when riding in the cart and even keep it on around the greens if you want. They are usually low priced and can help you stay cool and keep the hot sun off the back of your neck as well.
5. Eat During Your Round
Playing golf in the heat is taxing on your body and affect your performance. Not only are you sweating more but you’re probably using more mental activity as well.
To not go brain dead on the back nine, make sure you are eating healthy food before and during the round. Proper nutrition starts before the round. Make sure that you eat a solid breakfast before hitting the links so you’re fueled up and ready to go.
Try to incorporate lots of protein and carbs (like bananas or apples) for sustained energy throughout your long, hot day of golf. Pack a cooler and food bag so you avoid a greasy burger at the turn.
While it might taste good, there’s a reason the best players in the world avoid huge meals mid-round. This can result in a carb crash and probably not result in your best performance on the back nine.
6. Search For Shade
As I’m sure you know, the sun drains your energy which makes it very difficult to shoot low scores if you’re playing for 4-6 hours. To keep your energy levels high, search for cool spots and find shade on every hole if possible.
You want to stay out of any direct sunlight to keep yourself naturally cooler. Whether it’s standing to the side of tee boxes in the shade, walking under trees, and standing off to the side of the green while others are putting. Get at much sun protection as possible!
Riding in a cart helps as well, plus you can even buy umbrellas meant for the sun!
7. Download Q-Sun App
QSun is a free smartphone app that’s great for keeping you safe while playing golf in the sun. According to the website, it’s the first AI-powered app that frees your mind from sunburn concerns.
The app will tell you how long you can stay outside before getting a sunburn. The QSun app works without a wearable device but you can purchase one separately for even better data. The QSun wearable device tracks your personal UV exposure in real-time for more accurate recommendations.
Q-Sun is also equipped with tons of other sun safety features to protect your skin as well. It will tell you things like how much sunscreen to apply based on your size, weather, and specific outfit you’re wearing that day. Plus, it’ll help you get enough vitamin D and even analyze your skin health.
Not to mention, it will even send you reminders to make sure that you continue to reapply sunscreen as the round progresses. Because let’s get real, how many times have you applied sunscreen before the round and then never did it again? The app really is an ingenious way to track sun exposure and keep you safe!
8. Ride in a Cart
This seems like a no brainer but never want to assume as some golfers love walking. But if it’s extremely hot outside, I always suggest opting for a cart instead of walking.
Having a cart will do a few things to keep you safe. First, it will always provide shade so you aren’t constantly in the sun for 4-6 hours.
Second, it will allow you to carry extra items like liquids, food, and outerwear without weighing your bag down. Plus, it will keep your energy levels high instead of carrying or pushing your bag in the hot sun all day.
9. Skip Cigars
While it might feel like this article is a big “Don’t do this” list, we just want to keep you safe. Similar to drinking alcohol on the course, I’d suggest skipping cigars as well when it’s super hot outside.
I know that cigars and golf go together like Tiger Woods and winning but smoking can wreak havoc on your health. Plus, not smoking during the round will help you feel a lot cooler on the course. If you really need a cigar at some point during the day, try to save it for the 19th hole with an icy cold beverage.
10. Face Protection
Getting plenty of face protection is very important as well. You can do this several different ways.
The first is to wear a hat as mentioned above. If it’s super hot or you want even more protection, make sure to buy a large brim hat as well.
Next up is to wear extra-strong, higher SPF sunscreen. If you apply SPF-30 to the rest of your body, finding something even stronger (UPF 50) for your face as it gets the most exposure.
Another easy way to get face protection is to wear sunglasses. Try to find a pair that will both protect your eyes and still allow you to swing without any distractions. (click here to see some sunglasses made for golfers)
Finally, don’t forget to wear SPF lip balm. You want to treat your lips with just as much care as you do any other exposed part of your body.
If you’re like most golfers who have played in extreme heat or high wind conditions, you know the unfortunate experience of sunburned lips or severely chapped lips. To avoid dry, cracked lips, make sure to carry a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher.
11. Post Round Care
Just because the round is over doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. After you finish the round, make sure to keep hydrating with lots of water and Gatorade.
Also, if you do get sunburnt, you want to address it immediately. Keep some aloe-vera at the house, stay out of the hot shower or the hot tub, and stay out of the sun until you’re 100% healed.
Playing Golf in the Sun Summary
To close this post, I want to invite you to use any or all of these tips. I know you enjoy golf as much as I do but I don’t want it to risk your health, it’s not worth the price! There are tons of items to help you stay safe on the links so don’t be too manly for them.
Here are the biggest takeaways to ensure you have plenty of sun protection:
- Stay hydrated
- Wear the right outerwear
- Search for shade whenever possible
- Use SPF-30 sunscreen and UPF 50 for your face
- Ride in a cart so you can store your items and outerwear
- Load your shopping cart up with Gatorade and plenty of water
Just like playing golf, taking care of your skin is all about staying consistent. There is no such thing as a quick fix. Protecting your skin isn’t a one-time thing, it’s something you need to consciously do so you can keep playing for decades to come.
If you use these tips, I’m confident that you will stay safe and also play better golf. Just by staying hydrated, you’re more likely to stay mentally sharp during a long round of golf. This should help you make fewer mental errors and hopefully, shoot lower scores.