Skin cancer from the golf course: The facts

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 12, 2021 12:45

Golf and greenkeeping are healthy activities but overexposure to UV light can be a potential health hazard. Fortunately, it’s one that can be easily managed, as Michelle Baker, CEO of the Melanoma Fund, details.

Although it has been a ‘challenging’ 12 months for all, many greenkeepers have had the opportunity to work throughout the pandemic, which is a positive. Although keeping the fairways nurtured and flourishing all year round is important, those who work outdoors, and especially greenkeepers, also need to focus on their health, and in particular that of their skin.

The Melanoma Fund recognised the issue of skin cancer for all those who spend lots of time on the highly reflective surfaces, those that make up a typical golf course. As a response, last year it launched the Sip! Slap! Swing! campaign to keep more of us educated and aware.

Although golf is a healthy sport, actively and positively affecting mental and physical well-being, over exposure to UV light can be a potential health hazard, but one that can be easily managed and offset with good routines and habits. Although many of us are vigilant regarding sun protection during summer, we should be equally as attentive the rest of the year, monitoring skin for changes each month.

Get it checked

Checking your skin is a habit that can save your life. By dedicating half an hour a month to a full examination, not only are you in a better position to spot something suspicious early, leading to a much better prognosis, you will also become better connected to your skin. A bit like checking turf for weeds; you get to know the problem areas and are therefore more likely to keep things in check.

Whilst mortality rates in females have increased by 80 percent, rates in males have more than tripled since the early 70s. One of the reasons for the disparity is due to men failing to check out suspect moles or lesions. Over 60 percent never check their backs – where skin cancer often occurs – to see if existing moles have changed, or if new ones have appeared, in effect leaving it ‘too late’.

The Melanoma Fund recently launched the ‘Get Skin Savvy’ initiative. It introduces an animated video featuring ‘Mark the Golfer’ it explains how, when and why to check your skin, and most importantly, what to look out for, using the ABCDE Rule. The initiative aims to impact the rising rates of skin cancer and incidence of late diagnosis, which is higher in men.

Allan Matthews, lead dermatologist for the European Tour, and the newly appointed medical advisor of the Slip! Slap! Swing! Campaign, says: “It is extremely easy to underestimate the damage caused by UV exposure, as we are all programmed to think of the sun as being healthy. We all want that golden tan and to look well-travelled, however, having had first-hand experience of how the sun can adversely affect your skin, I urge every greenkeeper, as well as all golfers, to read this advice. Melanoma is not something you want to be dealing with at stage 4, which can easily be the case if you’re not vigilant.”



Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 12, 2021 12:45
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