If you haven’t noticed the unseasonably warm and wonderful weather across South Carolina since mid-November, you really need to get outdoors more. It’s been a great time for “off-season” golf, with smaller crowds on many courses, often lower prices and near-ideal conditions – but don’t let your fun fall victim to unexpected sunburn, skin damage or skin cancer.
While sunscreen is critical during the warm days of summer and early fall, it’s equally important to use sun protection year round, according to Sun SafeTee
, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sun protection education and skin cancer protection specifically for golfers. The group focuses on junior and college golfers, and partners with the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA), National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) and Golf Course Superintendents Association (GCSAA), as well as The First Tee, American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) and other local and regional junior golf associations.
Exposure to the sun’s UV rays is “cumulative, and that means we need to protect our skin whenever we’re outdoors, not just summer,” the organization says in a recent release. Invisible ultra-violet (UV) rays come in two types: UVA rays, which can cause premature aging of the skin, and UVB, which are the burning rays.
Both forms of UV can contribute to skin cancer, Sun SafeTee officials say. Sunburn is more prevalent in summer months due to the prominence of UVB rays, but while those are less of a concern in fall and winter, UVA rays are a factor year-round.
Sun SafeTee experts recommend using sunscreens with an SPF rating of 30+ and that carry “broad spectrum coverage” and “protects against UVA and UVB rays” labels. As in the summer, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours – hence the Sun SafeTee slogan: “Don’t Burn: Reapply at The Turn.”
Golf in late fall and winter usually means more clothing (and protection) than summer – think long sleeves and wind shirts, plus slacks – but Sun SafeTee advises wearing clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. Non-UPF clothing can help protect but is not as effective; fabrics with a tight weave and darker colors offer the most non-UPF protection, the organization says.
Wearing broad-brimmed hats, especially those with UPF ratings, provides more protection than ball caps for the face, ears, nose and neck. Sun SafeTee also advises wearing sunglasses with UV protection, preferably those that block at least 99 percent of UVB and 95 percent of UVA rays. The organization’s slogan for clothing: “Cover Up Before You Tee Up.”
Be smart about the South Carolina sun and potential skin cancer issues, whether the calendar says July or December. For more tips on sun safety, go to www.sunsafetee.org