I read a post over at the Hotel Melanoma that commented on bad golf, and that reminded me of a bad experience I had with sunscreen recently. Believe it or not, sunscreen almost led to others being seriously hurt. Before all the melanoma warriors and anti-tanners jump all over me…read on. I’m still just as adamant about supporting sun safety and skin cancer awareness.
This past Saturday, my wife and I surprised the kids with a trip to the local driving range. They’ve been wanting to hit some balls with “real golf clubs’ for a while, and it had been almost a year since I’d grabbed my own clubs, so we figured this would be a good outing for all.
We arrived around 5:00…after the peak sun hours, but the temperature was still in the 90’s and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful day or golf. I grabbed three clubs from my bag: a wedge, a mid-range iron, and a driver. We paid for a couple bucket of balls and picked out a few stock clubs for the rest of the family. My daughter is a leftie, so she was stuck with a kid’s iron while my right-handed son was given a child’s driver.
I showed my son the proper grip, etc. and he hit a beautiful shot. The boy’s got a natural swing! My daughter, who’s more athletic, was a bit more challenging to teach because of the “mirror image” method of teaching her left-handed swing. Eventually, both were swinging and hitting and having a good time. After a quick lesson with my wife, I finally got to hit a few.
Now I’ve had some major tendonitis in my right shoulder for a while, so I wasn’t sure how my swing would be. I hit some balls gingerly with the wedge at first and everything felt fine. Then I hit the iron equally well. As I reached for my driver, my daughter (ever the vigilant one) asked if I had brought along sunscreen. She was right…it had been since before noon that I last applied it and the sun was still pretty bright. So I went back to the car to grab the spray and lotion.
We typically use spray for the arms, legs, and neck. We use the lotion for the face and ears as my kids squirm away from the spray. They do from the lotion as well, but I can usually slop on enough to do the trick. This routine was repeated again until the entire family was glistening in protection.
With sun-safety assured, I returned to my golf swing and grabbed the driver. I heard my daughter mutter to her brother, “Hey…daddy’s got the big club now!” So of course, I decide to give this ball a good whack for showmanship. A steady backswing followed by a strong flowing swing and “WHACK!”
My ball didn’t fly as far as I had hoped, but my disappointment in driving distance was quickly overshadowed by the realization that I no longer had a club in my sunscreen-slickened hands! My kids exclaimed “WOW!” as my wife asked what the heck I was doing! Fear struck through me as I realized my driver was hurtling through the air somewhere, yet I didn’t know where. I was relieved to see that it wasn’t heading into the range…the thought of informing the groundskeeper to halt other golfers while I walked into the field to grab my club was an embarrassing proposition. But the concern raised as I realized that the club was most likely heading towards other practicing golfers!
I turned around in time to see it come crashing back to earth from about 30 feet up…luckily well behind mostly oblivious golfers. My family was rolling on the ground, literally, with laughter as I meandered to the wayward driver and discretely picked it up and walked back. A gentleman who was a few feet away merely said, “that’s one helluva swing you got there.”
So let this be a reminder to all who use and apply sunscreen spray and lotion. Bring a towel. The sunscreen WILL save your life…and the towel may very well save another’s.