(Plucked and updated from the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.)
THE MERCURY WILL REACH 93 today in Memphis, Tennessee, where PGA Tour players will sweat their way through the FedEx St. Jude Classic. The heat index—that measurement some weather guru came up with that combines air temperature and relative humidity—will hover near 100.
The good folks of Memphis and elsewhere (my hand is raised) know when it is sticky hot and suffocating without the benefit of the heat index and “feels like” numbers. Another way to quantify misery, I suppose.
The players at TPC Southwind will be soaked with sweat, some with big dark patches ringing the seat of their pants. (Some look like they had an embarrassing accident.) Sometimes I wonder how European players such as Swede Robert Karlsson and Englishman Lee Westwood acclimate to hot spots like muggy Memphis. I know they play worldwide, including toasty warm places such as Dubai, but is there any place sweatier than the Home of the Blues?
My question is this: When is it too hot for golf?
It’s summer now (or nearly so), golf season in North America, and the temperatures are rising. Is there a cutoff point for you, a temperature at which you say, “No, thanks. Too hot. I’ll tee it up another day”?
I played golf last Friday and the weather was perfect, about 80 degrees and relatively low humidity for early June. This week is a different story. It’s headed toward 90 today in my mountains, which is well above our normal high for late spring.
It’s also in the low and mid 90s across much of the Southeast and Northeast, including blistering June highs of 97 and 98 in Washington, DC, and New York City, respectively.
Tomorrow the high in Phoenix will be 100. You expect it to be a furnace there. Does anyone play golf in Phoenix in the summer? I suppose diehards do. I’ll bet the competition for early morning tee times in the summer months is fierce. Phoenix golf is a much more comfortable activity in the winter months when highs are in the 60s and 70s rather than in June when the average high is 103 degrees and the record is a scorching 122.
This might sound like a variation of the “I walked five miles to school in the snow” story, but when I was growing up in California’s Mojave Desert I routinely played in 105-degree heat. And, yes, it was a dry heat. And, yes, that does make a difference. (But it’s still plenty hot.) It didn’t bother me as a teenager. I didn’t think anything of it. I spent summer days at the golf course and actually liked it when extreme heat cleared the golf course in the afternoon so my golf buddies and I could have the place to ourselves.
I don’t handle the heat as well now. I can play in it, but I find that my recovery period, especially if I walk, is much longer. It saps my energy. I’m not playing a lot of golf these days, but when I do I’m fortunate to live and tee it up in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the summertime temps often don’t reach 90. That’s just fine with me.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Photo credit: mariana, Flickr, Creative Commons license)