It’s a solution to a problem so obvious that you wonder why no one thought of it before.
If it is physically demanding and perhaps even dangerous for high school girls golfers to play at 3pm in desert temperatures approaching 110 degrees in August and September, why not let the girls play in the morning?
“I really think it’s a great idea,” said Rob Hanmer, in his fourth year as the girls golf coach at Rancho Mirage High School.
The Rattlers have played two home games this season starting at 9 in Mission Hills North, just across Ramon Road from the high school. But the idea of morning games is growing, with Shadow Hills High School scheduling two games this season at 8:30 a.m. at Bermuda Dunes Country Club.
With girls’ golf an autumn sport in it California high schools, and with school starts and athletics moving earlier and earlier in August, golf games played on August afternoons face temperatures over 100 degrees. CIF-Southern Section rules require players to walk the golf course, and on particularly hot days that can cause serious problems.
“I wish we had done it all along,” said Shadow Hill head coach Nick Anziano, whose team played a morning game last week against the Rattlers. “Years ago I brought it up to a handful of coaches, and at the time I was still just trying to learn the ropes. It seems like a no-brainer.
“I’ve had girls throw up. It’s really not uncommon,” Anziano said. “Every season I’ve had some kind of heat-related illness hit somebody.”
Courses hard to find in the autumn
Like the seemingly obvious answer to other problems, Hanmer’s scheduling of morning games for his team actually came from another problem – field availability. Hanmer discovered last fall at the Desert Empire League boys golf finals that his girls team would not have access to Mission Hills Country Club in August or October this season.
“So I started rambling. Mission Hills North has been incredible for us, but they close at noon (in August),” Hanmer said. “My athletic director was standing there and I said we’re going to have to play some games at Mission Hills North in August. Can we play at 9 in the morning?”
During the summer months, the most public play at the Gary Player-designed Mission Hills North has begun at 8.30, which means that at 9:00 is perfect for the high school games.
Both Hanmer and his assistant coach, David Shaw, said there are also some academic benefits to the earlier games.
“We had our first game last week and missed the early classes, well the girls don’t want to miss classes that much,” Shaw said. “Now, instead of always missing the back end (of the day), it’s half and half now. They’re going to see more of their back end classes. We’ll get them back today before fourth period.”
Hanmer said the morning games may solve some problems for the teams, but the fall still presents problems such as courses closing for overseeding in September and October. But knowing that some matches are not played in afternoon heat may improve participation in sports.
“We’re trying to create some enjoyment in the sport and some lifelong golfers,” Hanmer said. “It still comes down to golf course availability. We have to play when the golf courses let us play. It just worked really well with this golf course that the 9 o’clock opening worked for us.”
This article originally appeared on the Palm Springs Desert Sun: Afternoon too hot? Some desert high school golf teams tee off in the morning