Summer golf survival guide

Sea Pines Country Club’s Jessica Albright offers tips for beating the heat on the golf course this summer.

Story by Shane Sharp

With highs in the upper 80s and 90s and “lows” in the 70s, Lowcountry summers tend to sizzle. But playing golf during the proverbial dog days can be both safe and enjoyable if you know what you’re doing. Who better to offer a few tips and tricks for navigating this sultry season than Sea Pines Country Club’s Jessica Albright?

Albright is a Class A PGA Professional, certified fitness trainer and nutrition expert. With the club’s golf course, shop and practice facility undergoing major renovations and expansions, we caught up with Albright amid her busy day of teaching fitness classes and giving golf lessons.

1. Hydrate … no, really hydrate

When it comes to hydration on the golf course, most golfers drink a little water, at best, and lots of beer, at worst. Albright recommends consuming a pint or two of water before heading out to the golf course; once you’re dehydrated, it’s too late to play catch-up. And hold-off on the libations until post-round.

On really hot days when your body loses both water and salt due to excessive sweating, plain water may not be enough. She advises golfers to supplement their H2O with branch chain amino acids, commonly referred to as BCAAs, which contain electrolytes. Several brands of powders and droplets are available online and at local drug stores.

2. Golf is a sport, eat like an athlete

Golfers heading out for 18 or 36 holes tend to eat a “big” breakfast chock-full of carbs and sugar followed by a “turn lunch” consisting of a burger, hotdog, fries or potato chips. On a 60- or 70-degree day, they can get away with it. But with the summer heat index creeping into triple digits, Albright implores diligent duffers to think and eat like an athlete.

“If you think about food as fueling your performance, then you should eat fruits like bananas and apples, good fats like peanut or almond butter, and lean protein like turkey bacon or chicken sausage,” she says. “On the golf course, be leery of energy bars that are pumped full of sugar or artificial sweeteners.”

3. Keep your head in the game with proper headwear

Albright says the “bucket hat” craze that started in 2019 and trickled down to the golf world is one of the best things to happen in years. Regular golf hats with just a front bill leave the back of the neck and ears exposed, areas prone to sun damage and melanoma.

“Baseball cap-style hats protect your nose and the upper part of your face, but that’s it,” she says. “A quality brimmed hat should be a part of every golfer’s wardrobe, year-round.”

And while you’re at it, wear a good pair of sunglasses rated UV 400 or higher to block 99.9 percent of harmful UV rays.

4. Employ proper course, and cart, management

Savvy golfers know that good course management can save a few strokes here and there. And good golf cart course management can help save your skin by keeping you and your playing partner out of the sun. Albright reminds golfers to park in the shade as frequently as possible, and to rest in the golf cart while waiting for other golfers to hit.

5. Master the science of sunscreen

Sunscreen SPFs range from 15 to 100, creating a lot of confusion when it comes to selecting the right one. It’s easier, Albright says, if you reduce that range from 30 to 50. A 50 SPF sunscreen blocks 98 percent of the sun’s harmful rays, while an SPF of 100 blocks 99 percent.

Steer away from sprays, which dissipate in the air before ever reaching the body. Lotion-based sunscreens rich in minerals like zinc are the most protective and safe. Oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate and octisalate are ingredients linked to several health issues. And don’t forget the SPF lip balm.

6. Make the Golden Hour your Happy Hour

Golfers are pre-programmed to grab the earliest tee times available during the summer months, leading tee sheets at public and private courses to fill up from 7 a.m. to noon, especially on the weekends. Albright suggests trading happy hour for the golden hours as a speedier, more relaxing alternative.

“Instead of playing golf in the morning, enjoy a relaxing day indoors or in the shade and head out to play at twilight,” Albright says. “Many public courses have twilight rates, and private courses are usually wide open at that time. Pace of play can be much faster.”


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