It’s hot as donkey down here in Texas right now, but, as golfers, that doesn’t mean we can just sit inside and twiddle our thumbs. We got work to do! So the question is: what are the best techniques to stay cool, and ultimately stay fresh during the summer’s hottest rounds?
First up, and this is going to be by far my greatest tip and secret, is fresh socks. Yep, when it’s super hot, I like to carry a fresh pair of socks with me and change at the turn. It takes about a minute to do, and those now sweaty and probably prune-y feet will love the reprieve, catch some air, and then get a fresh and un-soggy pair of moisture-wicking socks on them. When on Nike’s staff, I didn’t care quite as much about pants and shirts, but I requested dozens of new pairs of socks with each order. (Don’t tell them, but I still have new socks that are unopened, even though I haven’t been with them for 6 or 7 years.) This will make you feel like a new person (maybe even a better person) and lead to lower scores on the back nine, or so I always believed, and you gotta believe if you wanna win!
Next up, eat frequently. I’ve found when I get too hot, I sort of gravitate towards drinking and not eating. So, personal opinion and action is to eat smaller and more frequently. Once I became accustomed to it, I started doing this even when it wasn’t triple digits. It just seemed to keep my energy levels more constant.
Thirdly, and a nutritionist will absolutely have better insight here, but from what I‘ve read, make sure and drink plenty of water. (Ha!) There’s a strong push right now in the industry to drink water with plenty of salt/electrolytes, which is great, and I would add don’t be scared of sugar in this circumstance. Fruit sugars, Gatorade sugars, small little goo packs, whatever. You’re burning significant energy just by being outdoors, and replenishing all of the things lost will benefit you greatly as you work through the round.
From a fitness perspective, think through how much energy you’ve burned already before adding to the overall workload. For my professional athletes, we generally do very light weights and mostly stretching/mobility during these events in the heat of summer. (Another tip to that end, is to not change the workouts too much. If the body is accustomed to the same six or seven moves then it is less likely to be sore from doing them.)
That being said, when it’s not a tournament day, we generally try to hit it fairly heavy, provided sleep, nutrition, hydration, and all other “big rock” factors are in normal range and accounted for. If those are off kilter, we will dial the intensity back and strive to get more consistent with those foundational pieces first.
Here’s some science on why those big rocks matter:
Heat increases internal body temperature (shocking), but what that usually accompanies, similar to a fever, is a harder working heart. The heart has to work harder to move the blood around the body. If hydration is poor, then the blood becomes more viscous (think more gel-like vs more water like) which also requires the body/heart to work harder to move the blood through the system. Sweat is a wonderful cooling mechanism, but if it’s super humid outside, like it is right now in Texas, then moisture can stay on the skin longer making it even harder to cool the body.
A more efficient system will do all of those things above better (other than getting water into your body, you have to do that one all by your grown-up self). Simply: workout and workout consistently.
And even more simply put, and to bring the perspective of competition into it, you need to work out and be in shape, because the advantage you gain during the summer is larger than during the winter.
When physicality becomes more at play, then those who have created more efficient cooling systems, more effective and efficient hearts, and more strength and stamina, will really have a larger advantage than during 65* sweater-weather where anyone can play a leisurely round of golf and compete.
Get to bed earlier, drink some more water, eat protein and a salad, and then make sure and consistently workout, and you will be primed to handle the hotter weather better than your competition.
And don’t forget the fresh pair of socks :)