Spotting an avid golfer anywhere in the world is easy: just look at the hands, is one darker or more sun damaged than the other? A lefty or a righty? Its’ obvious which hand wears the traditional golf glove.
There are more than 20 million golfers in the US. Four hours is the average amount of time to play 18 holes. That’s a lot of sun exposure!
In a typical dermatology clinic day I see, and treat, 5 to 8 golf enthusiasts for their precancers and skin cancers on their ears, face, hands and arms. At the end of the visit I wish them improved scores and to wear appropriate sun protection.
Watching the PGA golfing events on TV I can’t help notice the exposed ears and hands of the young gun golfers. One day Ricky Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Billy Horschel, Danny Willett, and Patrick Reed will end up in the dermatology office for liquid nitrogen treatments or other equivalent remedies to treat their precancers and possibly skin cancers. Over the years I’ve watch the baby-face of Phil Mickelson evolve into a photo-damaged road map and his white right hand stands out like a beacon. Oh, there is a price to pay for a great golf game!
We mortals may not make our living on the golf course but do endure the rays from that beautiful bright orb in the sky just as they do. With our awareness and advancements in sunscreens and sun protective clothing we too can enjoy hours on the golf course and reduce our skin cancer risk from solar radiation.
Sun protection tips for golfers:
- Protect the ears, no matter how young or old you are; wear a wide brim hat that shades the ears and back of the neck. Sunscreen is just that, a ‘screen’, it is going to break down, sweat off, or you may wipe it off unintentionally. Physical shade or blocking is best.
- Wear loose, long-sleeved sun protective shirts with high collars. If they are loose, air gets in and cools the skin.
- PalmFree™SunGloves for Golf worn on non golf-gloved hand protects the back of the exposed hand from chronic sun exposure. Only now, no one will recognize you as a golfer.
- Sunscreens augment photo protection and since we can’t wear a mask on the golf course, applying correctly is a must on the face, ears, neck and arms, especially if exposed. I prefer sunscreens with zinc and titanium, like Elta Physical 41 or Cotz. Both have a slight tint and mutes out that whitish glow.
Proof is in the pudding: notice the senior tour players’ skin verses the young guns and those in their late 30s. For dermatology clinicians, we know where their skin is headed. With more than 20 million golfers in the US, we’ll never be out of a job.