Golfers should take heat precautions

Golfers should take heat precautions

June 27th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sportlocal

Charlotte Henry runs beneath a sprinkler on the ninth hole fairway to get to her ball at Moccasin Bend Golf Course on Tuesday. Temperatures have been in the high 90s and are forecast to rise above 100 degrees over the weekend.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

UTC head athletic trainer Todd Bullard offers heat tips for golfers

Heat stress, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be serious medical conditions. Golfers need to be aware of the symptoms before playing this time of year.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head athletic trainer Todd Bullard has years of experience dealing with heat-related medical issues and offers advice for golfers who attempt to score lower than the temperature this summer.

DO acclimate. Get used to the heat by playing just a few holes the first time out and a couple more before playing all 18.

DO NOT go beyond your boundaries. Know your limitations and know when you've had enough heat.

DO hydrate. Try to sip six to eight ounces of water or PowerAde before every tee shot and drink more when necessary.

DO NOT drink alcohol. Booze dehydrates internal organs. Keep beers and liquor in the clubhouse until the 19th hole or later.

DO eat. Proper nutrition is key to sustain energy, concentration and movement on the golf course. Healthy snacks are good.

DO NOT tough it out. When your body says, "No Mas," trust it and head for cool shelter and rehydration.

DO wear sunscreen. Help prevent skin cancer by wearing quality protection. Skin can be damaged in less than an hour of exposure. Wear it on all exposed skin -- including balding heads.

Most importantly ...

DO call 911 for any golfer experiencing heat stroke.

Be careful out there on the greens, fairways and tee boxes and even inside the air-conditioned clubhouse.

It's hot outside.

Golfers, especially those who otherwise spend little time outside in 90-to-100-degree heat, are susceptible to heat stress, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.

They're medical conditions that in the worst cases can lead to death.

"We try to remind folks, especially those who are walking, that they need water and we've got water on the course," said Brown Acres Golf Course manager Wayne Orr. "We've got water on the course, but it doesn't take long to dehydrate this time of year."

With area temperatures residing in the 90s the last few days and expected to creep near or over 100 in the next few, area golf course officials want to ensure pleasurable rounds for all players -- with no need for IV fluids or trips to the hospital.

The heat also abuses the courses, especially the greens, but that's usually nothing a good watering at the right time can't cure.

"For the most part, golfers are pretty smart about it," Orr said. "Our beer sales will decrease, but we will sell a lot of water and PowerAde.

"I can't remember anybody passing out on me. But I've had some folks who get overheated and come in."

Moccasin Bend head professional Devere Keller has seen a student pass out in front of him.

Keller said a 15-year-old came to him for a lesson one afternoon after mowing lawns and training for cross country in the morning without taking time to eat or drink fluids.

"About 40 minutes into the lesson, I stood back by his father, explaining what we were working on," Keller said. "I asked the young man to make another swing, but he didn't move. He looked at us, his eyes rolled back, he fell and he landed on his face.

"Thankfully he came to right away and we brought him in the clubhouse and cooled him down. His dad took him to the hospital, where they determined he was dehydrated."

Temperatures that surpass 90 degrees in the day and remain above 70 at night can take a toll on golf-course grasses.

Moccasin Bend superintendent Chad Malone noticed several spots on the No. 3 green that needed water at noon Tuesday -- before the hottest minutes of the day -- and he doused the bentgrass with a sip of water.

"High heat and humidity is tough on bentgrass greens, and water management is key this time of year and air movement is critical," Malone said. "When it's hot like this, we'll go cool down the greens about noon, then check on them a couple hours later to see if they need more water."

During this time of year, everything on a golf course needs more water -- grass and golfers.

Dan Lawson, who has been playing golf since 1960, has remained in good physical condition and walks 18 holes at least once a week.

The heat rarely gets to him because he's in condition, officiates soccer games and carries at least two bottles of water in his bag at all times.

"It's very important to know where all the water stations are on any golf course," said Lawson, who hit his first shot Monday when the thermometer in the shade of the starter's shack pushed 94 degrees. "I'm trying to get back in shape for officiating. I walk whenever I can."

Contact David Uchiyama at or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at