Introduction The golf professional will not only experience different climates when travelling and playing but may also have to teach in cold climates eg. Scotland in winter and Spain in summer etc. In addition to this those travelling from warmer climates to cold climates should also be aware of climatic changes.
Written by the late and GREAT! Ramsay McMaster Golf Physiotherapist.
Wet and cold weather will not only slow down your ball but may also slow down your body on the golf course. It is therefore worth taking some time to prepare for playing golf in cold conditions. If you are adequately prepared you can prevent both injuries and discomfort on the golf course enabling you to play to your full potential regardless of the weather.
Questions and Answers on Winter Golf What happens when the body is exposed to the cold?
Heart rate and blood volume decreases
Decreased blood supply to extremities therefore less Oxygen is supplied to the muscles nerves and skin.
Increased stiffness of the joints and tightening of the muscles may affect good swing mechanics.
Slower conduction of nerve impulses to the muscles and organs.
Decreased sensation especially in the hands and feet mean loss of "feel" especially in short game.
Training in Cold Climates continued Who is most at risk in the cold?
Both older and younger people
Lean people i.e. those with low body fat
Anyone who is improperly dressed for cold weather
If suffering illness or injury especially those with a respiratory illness, breathing, lung or heart problems.
What factors can further add to the cold exposure and increase the danger of suffering a cold injury? The severity on the golf course is often related to the "Wind Chill Factor". This depends on the temperature, wind speed, type of clothing worn and the length of time exposed to the cold. Other factors that affect golf in winter are:
Rain, sleet or Snow and exposure to sudden weather changes either during the game or when travelling
Suffering from ailments such as the common cold, fatigue, stress or hunger
Wearing clothing, foot and head gear which is wet
What are the signs and symptoms of developing a cold injury?
Feeling cold, faint or shivering.
Increased breathing and heart rate.
The need to urinate more frequently.
"Blue" fingers, ears, nose or lips.
Staggering or loss of balance or becoming quiet, lethargic or fatigued.
Altered vision or difficulty speaking.
How will these signs affect my golf?
It will reduce concentration the longer you are in that situation on the Golf Course.
Cold hands will affect feel especially in short game and putting.
Cold joints and muscles will affect fluency in your swing.
Cold feet will affect your balance and reduce a positive approach to your golf round.
Basic Strategies to Maximise Your game Training in Cold Climates continued
On course preparation
Check the Weather. Always find out what the weather has in store for you. This will help you prepare your equipment and be ready for any conditions
Check the Course. Always check the local course information to find out about any hazards or danger spots on the course
Ask your club pro or other players about the course conditions this may enable you to avoid slippery, boggy or severely wet areas and improve your approach shot positions.
When possible use an umbrella or the natural or man-made shelter around the course
Avoid sitting on wet or cold surfaces during the game as this will increase heat loss from the body
Clothing and Equipment Should be flexible and reasonably light weight and should consist of a number of layers
Nearest the skin should be a cotton, acrylic or wool material which will trap a layer of warm air but permit perspiration to move away from the body
The next layer again should be made of cotton acrylic or wool to provide insulation against the cold
The outer layer should be wind and waterproof which will permit body fluids to evaporate while retaining the heat. It is worthwhile investing in a wet weather outfit which provides this type of protection and is designed for golfers
Dressing in layers means you can add to or remove clothes according to how hot or cold you feel and according to temperature changes
Try to keep your clothes dry, wet clothes become almost ineffective against the cold and body heat will be lost at a much higher rate
A spare pair of clothes should be carried or left in your locker to replace wet clothes either during or after the game
Training in Cold Climates continued
Shoes should be well maintained, fit properly, treated with water proofing solution to prevent wet feet.
Spikes should not worn in order to provide traction and support during the swing also helping grip on those slippery slopes
A hat should worn to prevent heat loss from the head. It can be treated with waterproofing agents. It should have a brim to prevent water falling on the face and down the neck.
Additionally scarves and gloves will help reduce further heat loss. A hand mitt attached to your buggy may prevent your hand becoming cold or wet whilst pulling your buggy
Remember your golf bag will also require weather proofing in wet conditions to keep your clubs dry ensuring your grip is maintained in the golf swing. Keep a small hand towel in your bag to dry your face and hands.
Fluids and Nutrition Make sure you have eaten a light meal and have had fluids prior to playing
Fluid intake is just as important in cold weather as it is in hot conditions
Always carry fluids when exercising, you are constantly losing moisture to the atmosphere.
Alcohol should not be consumed as this dilates the peripheral circulation and causes increased heat loss
Physical Preparation for Winter Golf
Remember that your body temperature will be affected by moving from a warm or heated environment, to a cooler climate eg. office or car to the outdoors
Always lift your equipment correctly when assembling
Perform golf specific stretches before playing or practicing
Never commence with full swing or drives before playing in cool weather
Stretching every 10 minutes for long game and every five minutes for short game practice Keep mobile and stretch intermittently in slow play or competition. If you are playing 36 holes or in a day competition try to have a shower after eighteen holes, this will invigorate your body and promote early recovery for the rest of the competition.
Playing in cold climates continued
1. Loosen up inside. Let’s start with some pre-round basics: Loosen up inside, where it’s warm, before you start. It’s going to be really tough to stretch out in the cold — and you won’t really want to! Also, walk, don’t ride. There’s nowhere colder than an open-air golf cart on a windy winter day. Finally, ditch your pride. Cold-weather golf is all about scoring — if that means taking two extra clubs and keeping your swing simple and elemental, that’s just fine.
2. Start slow Lots of golfers think cold weather will cause the ball to fly shorter, and while that's true, the biggest reason why you lose distance in cold weather is because of the weather’s effect on your body. AKA, when it’s cold, you won’t be able to turn as far, or swing as hard, which means your swing speed will drop and you’ll hit the ball shorter accordingly. This is especially true early in the round, when you’re not warmed up from all the walking and swinging. So my advice? Accept it. Understand that you won’t have your usual speed, so focus on hitting the ball on the sweet spot rather than risking injury forcing speed you don’t have. Take an extra club or two and aim for the fat spots of the greens. Work your way into a groove based on playing what you have, not on what you don’t.
3. Don’t over-layer. For me, it’s keeping my hands warm. When you have a swing with as many moving parts as mine, you need to keep those small-twitch muscles firing. Also: not over-layering. I’d rather be a little chilly than bundled up like the Michelin Man. Wear a warm, long-sleeve shirt made of lightweight, flexible fabric, and then maybe a thin vest over it if need be.
4. Keep your hands warm. The key for me has always been keeping my hands warm. You get all of your feel from your hands, and if they get too exposed to the cold, you’ll have difficulty on those delicate touch shots. Keep a couple packages of hand warmers in your bag, and invest in a good pair of mittens.
How much does cold weather affect your golf ball?
Most golfers know the golf ball won’t fly as far in cold weather. But how much, exactly, does it impact your flight?
A test that was done determined that for golfers who hit their drives about 250 yards (with a ball speed of about 150 mph), they will lose about two yards on their drives for every 10 degree drop in temperature. On the flip side, golfers will gain about two yards on their drives for every 10 degree rise in temperature. The distance increase/decrease will decrease the shorter the club, though. For a pitching wedge, you’ll only gain or lose about 1.3 yards per 10 degrees,
So, please refer to the following little chart. Full disclosure, it’s not perfect because everyone’s distances vary, but hopefully it will help provide a general baseline for the next time you’re out there in the cold.
Training for Summer Golf.
When training for summer golf it is important everyone remembers to be as equally prepared for the hot weather as they are for the cold and wet winters. Golfers these days tend to be much more “sun smart” and aware of the hazards of our Nation's harsh rays however sometimes they neglect to take care of the body’s inner needs.
Play EarlyIf your schedule allows it, tee off early so that you can avoid having to golf during the highest temperatures of the day. The earlier you can start, the cooler the temperatures will be. Besides, who could say no to a little early-morning dew? Another perk of hitting the course early is that there’s likely to be less people around, so you can take your time and really get a feel for the course.
Maintain Your Fluids
The main reason people collapse is because they do not drink enough water!!!
Always drink BEFORE you feel thirsty to prevent dehydration.
Carry at least one large bottle of water, preferably with ice.
Salt solutions may help to replace sweat and prevent muscle cramps.
Maintaining your electrolyte levels is also important, so make sure you bring a sports drink with you as well. This way you can play your best and make the most of your time on the course.
Do not drink alcohol during the game as this will promote dehydration
Use Cooling Towels & Gels Just as there is moisture-wicking clothing on the market, you’ll also find cooling products as well. During the summer days on the course, a cooling towel or two is a must. These towels are a great way to wick away sweat, or for placing on the back of your neck, on your upper back, or across your belly to lower your body temperature. When you aren’t using your cooling towel, make sure it’s stored in a cold area. Aside from a cooling towel, there are also cooling gels made just for golfers. Look for a gel that contains aloe and eucalyptus and apply it behind your ears as well as in the crooks of your elbows and knees. This will help to keep your core at a comfortable temperature for the upcoming 18 holes.
Hats and Clothing Clothes should be:
Loose to allow air evaporation and circulation
Lightweight material eg: cotton.
Light in colour to reflect the sun’s rays
Your hat should have: A wide brim (wind permitting) Training for Summer Golf. continued A light coloured exterior surface to reflect light Dark coloured lining to prevent reflection of light onto your face Protect your neck from the sun to prevent sunburn and heat absorption Wear a shirt with a collar and use sun screens
Exposure to Heat and Light
Apply 15+ sun screen before venturing onto the course.
It is most effective if applied 15 minutes before going outside
Replace the sun screen during the game to ensure adequate coverage
Aclimatise yourself to prepare your body for a game in the heat
If you have not played for some time DO NOT play your first game in temperatures above of 32 degrees Centigrade
Temperatures of 32 degrees are more dangerous because they are close to our body temperature and make the cooling process more difficult to achieve. (This risk is increased by higher humidity)
Try to stay in the shade as much as possible and walk on green grassy areas to minimise reflection of sunlight from the ground.
Keep Cool During the Game
It is important to keep your body temperature down
Drink plenty of cool fluids
Use a damp towel or water to keep your neck and head cool by promoting evaporation
Make Allowances for your Level of Fitness & Any Underlying Illness If you have a heart or lung condition, remember to carry and use your medication. It is worth carrying a record of your condition and or medication, so that if anything does happen to you, the people attending can be informed.
Training for Summer Golf continued
First Aid Treatment for a Heat Affected Victim
If you feel short of breath or have pain or burning in the chest, arms, back or jaw, stop walking and rest (if possible in the shade) until help arrives To continue may be fatal!
Lay the person down in the shade
Remove excess clothing
Cool the person by placing water or damp towels onto the skin
If the person is not drowsy encourage them to drink small amounts of cool water often
Encourage the person to return to the clubhouse immediately, to lie down, rest and replenish their fluids
Remember it is dangerous to continue to play in hot conditions in a dehydrated state.
Take Up Indoor Golf
Sometimes, the heat can just be too much. On those days when the temperatures are unbearable, your best bet to be completely safe from the heat is indoor golf. By golfing indoors, you can enjoy being in a cool environment where weather isn’t a factor. What’s even better is that you can enjoy indoor golf at your home with a high-quality golf simulator. Various facilities are available throughout Tokyo and regional locations. With virtual golf, you can continue to show your love of sport, without having to worry about the summer heat.
Good preparation is essential for winter golf not only to prevent injury but also will keep you playing consistently and ready for a successful summer season