Each year approximately 500 New Zealanders die from skin cancers and more than 2,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with melanoma.
We golfers are of course particularly at risk because of where and when we play. The time spent outdoors, especially in direct sunlight during peak times of UV sun exposure provides the perfect conditions for exposure to this silent assassin.
For example, an 18 hole game of golf means 4 to 5 times more UV exposure than a game of tennis. Prolonged and repeated exposure to the sun is dangerous and damaging. Without the protection offered by specific clothes and/or an efficient sunscreen, golfers are at risk to sunburn, premature skin aging and skin cancers.
Excessive sun exposure is skin cancer's main cause. So what to do? Given that night golf has yet to take off (it’s hard enough finding my ball in broad daylight let alone the dark!), how do we protect ourselves, while out on the course?
Lather a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen rated at an SPF of 50+, 30 minutes before you head out onto the course. And by lather, the Cancer Society's recommendation is at least two tablespoons to cover your face, neck, ears, hands and arms. Remember to reapply every two hours.
Besides sunscreen, the smartest form of sun safety is covering up in golf appropriate clothing. Our UPF 50+ rated sun sleeves are the best option to protect your skin during the warm summer months. In winter long sleeve tops, like our Links Long Sleeve Golf Tops are good options too.
Thinking about what’s up top and our Penumbra Bucket Hats will protect your neck, face and ears from the sun, or if you prefer you can wear one of our Bulwark Caps just remember to put sunscreen on your neck. Plus don’t forget some sunglasses to protect your eyes from those harmful UV rays.
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When practical, schedule your round for either early in the morning before the sun is at its peak or very late in the afternoon around sunset when the sun’s intensity has dropped. Courses often discount late tee-off times so you can help your skin and save your wallet simultaneously!
Take advantage of the shade. While trees are rarely my friend on the golf course, they do provide welcome shade. So, give exposed skin a brief rest from the sun and seek out trees between shots. Similarly, give your skin a much-needed break from dangerous UV rays by fitting an umbrella specially designed for UV protection to your golf bag.
Even after taking these precautions, be vigilant about changes to your skin. If you notice a skin discoloration; a mole, growth or spot; bleeding, or a change in appearance to a bump, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get it checked.
For more information see the Cancer Society or have a chat with your doctor.