“Golf clubs need to be more responsible for the well-being of their members”

Skin Cancer

PGA Professional and Slip! Slap! Swing! Ambassador Jamie Cundy shares the secret to a safe round of golf.

How often did you remember to use adequate sun protection this summer? If you’re like the majority of golfers, probably not nearly enough, and I’ll explain why.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with over 100,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Unfortunately, golfers are the most susceptible to many types of skin cancer due to the amount of time they spend in a highly reflective environment, which is your typical golf course.

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It is thought that golfers receive an estimated 217 times the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn over the course of the year. With many golfers displaying a ‘very casual’ approach to sun protection (including me before my diagnosis), I believe it’s time more golf clubs got actively involved in raising awareness of sun protection, to help safeguard the health of their staff and members.

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In my role as ambassador, I will be urging all UK clubs to become officially accredited to the ‘Slip! Slap! Swing!’ sun protection campaign for golf, which was launched this year by the Melanoma Fund, with the backing of eight major golf organisations.

From next spring, clubs will simply need to sign up at www.melanoma-fund.co.uk/golf and pledge to introduce four actions into their working practices. These have been specifically designed to help educate, raise awareness and, in turn, improve sun protection habits.

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At our club we put the onus on the staff to ask the questions of customers during the warmer months. When anyone comes into my pro shop at Calderfield G&CC, our staff are told to ask people if they need water for hydration, and if they have sunscreen in their bag.

By asking these simple questions we are putting the thought into their head, whereas before it may not even have crossed their mind. Our job is to look after people on the golf course, and this includes protecting their health.

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Although skin cancer is preventable, it is also indiscriminate; anybody can get it. The risk, though, is higher amongst people with fair skin, red hair and those who have a lot of moles and a family history of melanoma. It is also higher in those who repeatedly refuse to use sunscreen, in fact it just takes one sunburn to double your risk of melanoma – who wants to play with those odds?

Despite all of the advice, many of us believe that applying sunscreen ‘once a day’ is enough, but it isn’t. There are some products that claim to last all day, but these are easily sweated or wiped off, so the advice is always to reapply, even in overcast conditions.

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Golfers tend to neglect sunscreen for fear of a getting a greasy grip on clubs. My advice would be to use an applicator which leaves hands clean.  

The bottom line is that protecting your skin in summer should be part of your pre-round ritual, just as putting on your thermals in winter.

Have you been touched by skin cancer?

In preparation for their Slip! Slap! Swing! 2020 campaign, the Melanoma Fund is calling for golfers or greenkeepers who have suffered any form of skin cancer to step forward and tell their story.

By showing that this can happen to anyone, it is hoped this will inspire others to think twice about their skin, and their sun protection habits before teeing off next spring, helping save lives. All those participating will receive a 200ml bottle of Altruist sunscreen.

Contact michelle@melanoma-fund.co.uk for further details. The Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign launches its new accreditation initiative in May 2020.

Calling club captains

Slip! Slap! Swing! actively supports the future well-being all who play or work in golf. If you’re looking for a relevant ‘club charity’ for 2020, contact the Melanoma Fund at www.melanoma-fund.co.uk to find out more.

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