Swinging golfers toward good sun protection: The “Improve Your Long Game Program”

Paul Gow is helping spread the sun-safe message, particularly to high risk male golfers over 40

GOLF has many health and well-being benefits but one of the few drawbacks can be the amount of time participants spend exposed to the sun.

That’s why it is so important golfers reduce their risk of developing skin cancer by using sun protection every time they play.

With Australia having one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world, the message is particularly relevant to men over the age of 40 because they are more than one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma and around twice more likely to die from it than women of similar age.

To help spread the word, Cancer Council NSW is partnering with former golf pro Paul Gow to encourage sun protection awareness amongst golfers through the Improve Your Long Game Program.

Co-funded by Cancer Institute NSW, Improve Your Long Game supports participating golf clubs to help keep members protected from the sun by providing information resources and free sunscreen pump stands on the course, with a reminder for golfers to apply and re-apply sunscreen.

The 47 year old Gow, who spent five years on the US PGA TOUR and is now a leading golf media personality, is committed to staying sun-safe and is encouraging all golfers to practice good sun protection both on and off the course.

“Over the years, golf has given me some of the greatest experiences of my life,” Gow says.

“Above all, it’s about having good times with my mates and family. For us blokes over 40, it’s really important that we look after ourselves to make sure we can keep having those good times for many years to come. It’s never too late, that’s why Improve Your Long Game and good sun protection benefits everyone.

“I make sun protection a part of my game prep; checking I have all the right gear complete with a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and long sleeves. Make sun protection part of your game too.”

Cancer Council NSW’s Skin Cancer Prevention Manager, Liz King said men over the age of 40 are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, and around twice as likely to die from it, compared to women of a similar age.

“Recreational golfers spend extended periods of time outdoors in an environment that has minimal shade and is highly reflective of UV from surrounding surfaces like grass, sand and water. Unprotected sun exposure puts them at high risk of sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer.

“It’s important to have a sun protection routine in place and following the example of sportspeople like Paul Gow is a great place to start,” King said.

In most parts of NSW and across the country generally, UV levels are high enough to require sun protection for most of the year. Cancer Council NSW encourages golfers to wear long-sleeved clothing (slip), apply sunscreen (slop), wear a broad brimmed hat (slap), find shade wherever possible (seek), and wear sunglasses (slide) each and every time they are out on course.

In 2018, over 100 clubs across NSW are participating in the Improve Your Long Game Program, and showing commitment to improving the sun safety of their members.

For more information on skin cancer prevention and Improve Your Long Game, visit cancercouncil.com.au/longgame.

Sun Safe Facts

  • Australia has among the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
  • Two in three people (2 in 3 men and 3 in 5 women) who grow up in Australia will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70.
  • More than 95% of all skin cancers are caused by Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • Men over the age of 40 are more than one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma and around twice more likely to die from it than women of similar age.
  • It’s never too late: you can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer at any age by protecting yourself from the sun through easy steps like applying/reapplying sunscreen, wearing a broad brimmed hat (not a cap), wearing long-sleeved shirts, wearing sunglasses and seeking shade when possible.
  • Men over 40 are less likely to apply sunscreen and wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses than their female counterparts.21% of men in NSW report that they never use sun protection compared to 13% of women.

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