Tracey’s grandfather died of a melanoma when she was about six, which probably explains my wife’s strict and unwavering insistence on the kids avoiding even a hint on a tan. It’s also why I was so keen to support Cancer Council and their new program aimed at golfers.
The fact is, most people probably know someone in their family or extended group of friends who’s had a skin cancer scare or worse.
“Do you have much to do with golf?” my agent, Sam, asked me last week.
“Last year I was at the local course almost every week,” I told her honestly.
My association with the local golf course goes back many years, although if I’m completely upfront I should add it almost exclusively involves lunch and, more specifically, having a chinwag with mates at the nineteenth.
“So you’re a golfer?” she asked. Then, assumingly because she’s met me, she went on, “I can’t picture that.”
“Regular as clockwork,” I assured her. I mean, it’s not like I own a golf racket or anything, but I have been known to hit a ball around – usually at Putt Putt with the kids, but occasionally on the fairways.
“Really?” Like the media towards the end of the US election, she wasn’t even trying to hide her doubts now.
Little did she know she could set her watch by me. Not the big or little hands, obviously. Not even the day of the month.
“I have a hit every year with a mate,” I said. Every May, in fact. “We generally do nine holes on the par 3, whether I want to or not.”
But lots do want to.
Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world, not least because it can be played by athletes and was-athletes, like me.
The mate I like to play with goes out weekly for a round: rain, hail or shine.
Which brings me to the point of this post. The risks involved in walking around the golf pitch.
Everyone knows you have to be careful on the course when there’s a storm around because of the risk of lightning strikes, but the fact is there’s only been an average of one golf death a year from lightning strikes in the whole of the US.
The greatest risk to golfers actually exists regardless of the cloud cover, or lack thereof.
And here’s where I get a bit serious about the message here, because it’s important and something our family is passionate about.
As parents we’re always making sure our kids are sun safe. We know they need to wear hats. We know to put heaps of sunscreen or zinc on them. We know they should be wearing rashies in the water. These sun safe messages have been splashed in front of us since the days of The Goodies and Dr Who, and they enforce it in schools and kids’ sporting events. Our kids will grow into adulthood doing the right thing by their skin as a matter of course.
But how often do we all overlook these things for ourselves these days, even with all the messages out there? It’s actually us adults who are forgetting we need to think about the slip and the slop and the slap for our own sun sensitive skin.
And it will come as no surprise to the female half of most relationships to learn men are the worst for it.
In fact, men over forty are 1.5 times as likely to be diagnosed with melanoma (and more than twice as likely to die from them) as women in the same age bracket.
The message is simple – don’t risk being a lesson for your grandkids. Next time you or your partner head out onto the golfing ovals remember to think about the long game as well as the short and play it safe. Sun safe. Put on a broad-brimmed hat, shirt, pair of sunnies, lather a bit of sunscreen into the bits which are showing, and seek a bit of shade between holes.
I know, come this May when I grab a golf bat and ball, I will. Tracey will insist.
And, like a good mate, I’ll remind my buddy too if he forgets.
Because I reckon golf is painful enough without the added short term agony of red, blistered skin and the long term potential of tapping ourselves into a hole before we’ve finished living the full eighteen hole.
You can be a pal too by forwarding this reminder to a golfing buddy. Or his wife.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
Thank you to Cancer Council NSW for supporting our family, watching out for others and sponsoring this post.