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Golfing Weather Safety Tips

April 2012

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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Golfing can be one of the most relaxing (or perhaps frustrating?) pastimes. But don`t let the fun distract you from staying alert to your local weather conditions, especially when they could be life threatening. Here are a few tips to keep you from having to battle Mother Nature while hitting the links:

Lightning: Mixing warm weather, wide open spaces, and metal clubs makes golfing a potentially deadly lightning risk. In terms of lightning safety, being outside is the number one risk for being struck. It`s estimated 20 percent of people struck by lightning die, and of the survivors, 70 percent have permanent injuries of some sort. Lightning can also strike from 10-20 miles away from the parent thunderstorm, something that`s called a "bolt from the blue." Fortunately many golf courses have lightning detection systems, like WeatherBug`s Club Safety system, that warns golfers of approaching lightning well ahead of time. Still, there are several things you can do yourself to keep from being another statistic.

  • Seek shelter immediately. This is the most important rule for staying safe during a thunderstorm. Go inside a sturdy structure, away from windows, and wait until you no longer hear thunder. Remember the saying, "When thunder roars, go indoors"

If for some reason you can`t go indoors, remember these tips:

  • Stay away from ponds, lakes, and other open water areas.

  • Do not stand under lone trees.
  • Do not use your golf clubs and avoid metal objects.
  • Heat: Heat-related illnesses are responsible for thousands of hospital trips every year. Combine these warmer temperatures will higher humidity, and illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke can sneak up on even the most prudent golfers. Here are some tips to help you beat the heat when hitting the links:

    • Stay hydrated. This is the best thing you can do to prevent heat-related illnesses. Drink beverages that are non-carbonated, non-caffeinated, and non-alcoholic. The rule of thumb - drink at least one 8-ounce bottle of water for every hour you play, especially if you`re sweating a lot.

  • Dress comfortably. Select light-colored, light-weight apparel. All-cotton clothing is great for helping to wick away perspiration from your skin. Also wear a hat to help keep the sun from beating on your head.
  • Avoid playing during the heat of mid-day. Select tee times that are in the early morning or late afternoon. Generally the hottest time of day is between Noon and 4 p.m., so try to avoid long periods of outside activity then.
  • Sun: A few hours of golf can turn into a few days of pain if you don`t protect yourself from the Sun. Even a couple of bad sunburns can raise your risk for melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer. Remember these tips next time you`re planning a round of golf:

    • Use sunblock. Obviously, a common sense tip. What may not be common sense is how much lotion to use and how often to apply. Use a golf-ball sized amount for your entire body, don`t forget the back of your legs, your neck, ears, and nose - places that can be especially vulnerable to sunburn. You should reapply every nine holes, even if it`s cloudy.

  • Wear wide-brimmed hats. Even better if it has a back-flap. These protect your face and neck better than baseball caps. Think Greg Norman and his straw hats.
  • Wear sunglasses. And not just any sunglasses... select ones that block UV rays. If they don`t, they are actually worse for your eyes than no sunglasses, because the tinted lenses make your pupils open wider, allowing then to be exposed to more UV radiation.
  • One last tip... check out your local forecast from WeatherBug before you hit the links! We will keep you up-to-date on your latest weather. And remember, following these simple recommendations can really help make your golf outing more enjoyable - and more importantly, help keep you focused on battling the course rather than the elements.

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