Beat the heat? Forget it. But you can make your summer golf vacation in Arizona a hot success

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - You're pumped about that late spring or summer Arizona, Las Vegas or Palm Springs golf trip, as exited as Vince Vaughn when he wakes up next to Jennifer Aniston over the unbelievable deals you're getting on some of America's top courses.

Raven South Mountain - Pine Trees
Tree-filled courses like Phoenix's Raven at South Mountain become smart summer plays in desert golf hot spots.
Raven South Mountain - Pine TreesHot SunASU Karsten Golf Course
If you go

Then, you step outside your hotel and feel like you've walked right into a furnace. Or the eighth level of Hell.

Your enthusiasm is literally seeping out of every sweat gland in your body (some you didn't even know you had). Suddenly, you wonder what you were thinking when you became enraptured by the low greens fees on the high-end courses in the hot weather season.

All need not be lost though. With a few concessions and a little preparation, you can enjoy that great budget golf under the scorching sun. There are plenty of myths out there about golf heat strategies you need to follow. Here are the real truths, not sunscreened at all by any tourism bureau or travel agency.

1. Accept the heat: The old "but it's a dry heat" argument applies. To a point. The problem comes in when people get ridiculous about it.

Desert heat is a little more manageable than, say, Florida heat, where you might need more shirts per round than balls. Playing in 90 degree Fahrenheit Scottsdale weather can feel like playing in 80 degree New York weather.

But it's still hot. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And if anything the sun's more intense. You might not feel as hot, but you can burn twice as fast.

Once temperatures start dancing over triple digits, throw any heat qualifiers out the window. At 110, it's not dry heat. It's just hot.

"You never get used to it," said Joe Carter, an Illinois transplant who's lived in Phoenix for more than a decade. "No one gets used to that kind of heat. I hate the summer heat. But I still golf. I'm going to be insanely hot anyway. Why not be hot while doing something I enjoy?"

Summer duffers in the desert golf meccas should look at the heat the way visiting golfers regard rain and fog in Ireland and Scotland. It's just part of the experience. As unavoidable as bogeys. No use whining about it. Endure and you'll have some hellacious heat stories to tell at the next block party back home.

2. Forget the early morning tee time jive: Tell someone you're golfing in the summer in Las Vegas, Scottsdale or Palm Springs and they'll inevitably instruct you to book an early morning tee time. Six a.m., 6:30 - heck 5:30 if they'll let you - it can never be too early. Whoever's doing the telling will be all solemn and self important about it. Like they've just let you in on the secret of life.

Newsflash: Everyone knows! Everyone's heard this creaky spiel. There are Martians planning to play Troon North at 5:30 a.m. in June.

It's become such golf gospel that it no longer applies in any practical sense. Show up at farmer's hours during the summer season at any desert golf hotspot and you'll find a parking lot full of hackers with the same idea. It is a little cooler, but it's also the only time when the courses are packed solid during the summer.

And any slight gain in temperature comfort will be offset by crowd annoyance. A five-and-a-half round rubbernecking on the tees when its 95 can be much more aggravating than a four-hour round when it's 105.

Besides, the whole up-before-the-roosters strategy goes against the purpose of most golf trips. You are supposed to be on vacation.

3. Drink four times what you think you need: We're talking water, bottled water, and lots of it. A simple rule is if you're not going to the bathroom, you're not drinking enough. An even simpler one is: You're not drinking enough.

Almost no one does. Especially golfers inexperienced in the stifling desert heat. You can be feeling fine and then, suddenly, your knees turn wobbly and your round is ending early. So much for the summer bargain.

It can happen to almost anyone. This reporter thought he was fine with fluids only to start shaking after a round in Tempe last summer. It took about six bottled waters and a few hours to feel normal again. For bigger guys with nice beer bellies - and let's face it, few golfers don't have one - the consequences can be much more severe.

If it's in the 90s, you should be drinking one bottled water every three holes. If it's over 100, make that a bottle every two holes. Nine full bottled waters per 18 holes. And yes, you might want to bring your own from the supermarket to save some cash.

Then again, you might just relish the chance to flirt with the beer cart girl a good half dozen times.

Unfortunately, Budweiser does not hydrate.

4. Pick your courses wisely: Stark desert courses with plenty of forced cacti carries are great. But you don't want a steady stream of them on a summer-season golf trip. This is the time to value tree coverage - the chance for some shade.

Consider courses like Raven at South Mountain in Phoenix-Scottsdale and Indian Wells Country Club in Palm Springs for your summer swing.

5. Park that car in the shade: Sounds simple, but the last thing you want to do after four hours of golf fun in the scorching sun is settle into some baked leather seats. This is why smart golfers fill in the far end of the lot at Arizona State University's Karsten Golf Course, which is much more shaded.

Only Arizona summer rookies park near the door.

"We're golfers," local Ramon Maes said. "Just because we're playing in 105-degree weather doesn't mean we're stupid."

Top 5 tips for golfing in the heat

1. Accept the heat
2. Dismiss early-morning-tee-time jive
3. Drink four times the water you think
4. Play a few tree-lined courses
5. Plant your car in the shade

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Great article

    David wrote on: Jun 2, 2012

    I love the part about parking in the far lot at Karsten... I ALWAYS


  • great article chris baldwin

    jasons100 wrote on: Feb 18, 2010

    this is a great article chris baldwin, I was so pumped when i got out of the plain at Arizona where i later made my way to Las Vegas for a gold duo with my top golfing mates, we were suppose to go to palm beach but we got stuck in at las vegas cmon, it's a great place and worthy of stay that little bit long. but cheers on the great article