Many parts of Southern California have been hit with a historic heat wave, which has led to power shortages and rolling blackouts.
But the blazing temperatures haven’t stopped golfers from breaking out their clubs to play at Furnace Creek Golf Course in Death Valley, California.
According to John Kukreja, who is the general manager at the Oasis at Death Valley, formerly called Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort, no one out on the links seems bothered by the extreme heat.
“We are getting more inquiries and more demand for golf than we’ve ever seen,” Kukreja said.
It’s always hot in August in Death Valley, which is 250 miles northeast of Los Angeles and 150 miles west of Las Vegas. But not this hot. Temperatures have surpassed 120 degrees all week. It was 130 degrees in Death Valley on Sunday — which, once verified, would be the hottest temperature on Earth in at least 107 years, since July 1913.
Per the climate data in xmACIS2, this is the first time since 1913 that Death Valley has reached 130F. In July 2013, it last reached 129F. If valid, it would be the hottest August temperature at the site by 3F. @NWSVegas pic.twitter.com/gZNBW4NXI4
— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) August 16, 2020
Throughout the week, though, Furnace Creek has had a steady flow of six to seven golfers per day despite the scorching temperatures. The course’s resident golf pro, who usually leaves during the summer, has actually hung back to continue teaching and help manage the course.
Though temperatures that high can be deadly, golfing at Furnace Creek has been on Dan Markham’s bucket list for quite some time.
“Finally I saw the weather popping up to basically the world record and I dropped everything,” Markham told ESPN. He chose to tee off at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, when it was already 112 degrees — on purpose, so he could be golfing at the hottest time possible.
Markham brought 30 different hydro-flasks full of cold water — yes, he and the friend he brought along to film the experience drank them all — and it took him until 2:30 p.m. to complete 18 holes. He was the only one golfing at the time, though someone did tee off before him at 6 a.m.
“This is one of those days where it’s the experience, it’s not about the score that you have,” Markham said, lamenting how poorly he played. “It’s about saying you did something like that. It was a feeling of accomplishment.”
He would recommend it to anyone, he said, but noted how it is not for someone who has health conditions. Markham’s fitness tracker told him his heart rate was consistently beating as fast as when he rides his stationary bike at home. For the entire last two hours, the back nine, he said he was out of breath as the temperature soared toward 130 degrees, and he had to wait nearly a minute to catch it every time he walked the short distance from the golf cart to the tee.
“It took me almost a full day to recover. I lost almost 5 pounds,” he said.
Imagine you’re putting your hand into an oven to take out a sheet of cookies, he said, and your arm hair feels as if it’s sizzling off. That’s how your body feels the entire time you’re out in temperatures near 130 degrees.
So how do you prepare for activity in the hottest temperatures on the globe?
Kukreja told ESPN that hydration really is key — as well as monitoring yourself for dizziness and nausea.
“Just made sure that they are properly hydrated, they have visor, sunglasses, hats. Preferably if you are wearing a full-sleeve shirt,” he said. “And it’s a dry heat. One of the things we always mentioned to people is that make sure you’re always sipping something, staying hydrated. The heat when it touches your body, you really don’t feel the perspiration, you don’t feel the sweat. It kind of hits you and it dries off.”
This weekend there will be a bit of a respite. By Sunday, temperatures are expected to hit just 118 degrees.