Beat the heat? What the PGA Tour and players are doing to at least survive it
ATLANTA – The enduring image of this year’s FedExCup playoffs, thus far, is a 43-year-old father of two overcoming the putting yips, a deep field and oppressive heat and humid to win the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Lucas Glover and his sweat-soaked shirt and pants are golf’s summer GIF thanks to what meteorologist called a “heat dome” that has blanketed most the nation and produced the hottest summer in recorded history, particularly in the southeast where the PGA Tour began and will end its postseason.
Triple-digit heat indexes are nothing new for professional golfers, but conditions in Memphis and this week’s forecast in Atlanta have prompted the Tour to be proactive. In a memo sent to players this week, the Tour outlined “additional measures to ensure players and caddies are as hydrated as possible to reduce dehydration and health concerns.”
Full-field scores from the Tour Championship
Those measures include coolers on every hole with water and electrolyte drinks, along with shade tents with misting fans. This week at East Lake, the Tour has also added CoolMitt devices on every third hole to “accelerate the cooling of core body temperature more quickly than the body can do on its own.”
The memo also reminds players that IV fluids over 200 ml are prohibited by the Tour’s anti-doping policy unless there’s a medical emergency. This is different from other non-Olympic sports, like football, because “IV fluids can be used to mask the presence of prohibited substances,” according to memo.
These restrictions combined with the historic heat – with Friday’s index forecast for 104 degrees – have forced players and their trainers to be more prepared.
“Water’s not enough,” said Kolby Tullier, a longtime Tour trainer whose players include Glover, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas. “These guys are losing so much so fast, you’re losing so much more than just water. It’s critical and it affects cognitive ability and energy loss and strength loss. It’s more important than training itself.”
Tullier said his plan with Glover in Memphis and Atlanta is to drink a bottle of water with some sort of electrolyte supplement every two holes, along with some sort of snack like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“In a four-hour round of golf you’re looking at half your body weight in ounces [of water] per day to keep your body hydrated, that’s a regular day,” Tullier said. “Now imagine how much more you’d need on a day like we had in Memphis. Your body is working overtime to cool yourself off.”
Playing golf in the heat is nothing new, but the way players and their teams prepare for those extreme conditions has certainly evolved.