This year’s unseasonably mild winter has been wreaking havoc across the East End. Golfers everywhere are finding an abnormally high amount of ticks when searching for errant shots. Warm winter temperatures, decreased field mice population, and straying from the middle of the fairway are the primary causes of the increased potential for finding a tick. Here are a few tips to help you keep the ball in the fairway and repeal those pesky ticks and the diseases they carry.
DEET is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products and is used to repel biting pests that may carry disease. Products range in concentration from 4% to 100% DEET and are available in many forms such as an aerosol, lotion, or cream for application to skin or clothing. DEET is effective for one to several hours and must be reapplied periodically. The effectiveness of DEET is influenced by the concentration and for most golfers a concentration around of 30% to 40% probably should be used. Anything higher than that can be harmful to the skin and should be used carefully on clothing only. When applying DEET to protect against ticks, particular attention should be given to the shoes, socks, and lower portion of pants. In addition to using DEET, one should regularly check shoes and pants when walking in the woods or high grass. Wearing light colored pants and socks are also a good recommendation so that it is easier to spot these pests. Shower quickly after a round of golf to wash off any DEET that might be on your skin or any ticks that might have found you.
Golf no longer favors the straight hitter and the younger generation is taught to hit the ball as far as possible. Players like Bubba Watson are proving that they can win Majors missing fairways and wedging the ball onto the green from the woods. However, in order to keep the ticks away, accuracy this season is a must. Annika Sorenstam’s swing is a wonderful example of how to swing the club with accuracy. Sorenstam maintains exceptional structure with the arms and body from waist high to waist high in the swing. Try to create Anika’s structure by making some small swings back and through with very little wrist hinge and keep the arms relatively straight. Use the rotation of the body to move arms and club back and through, very effective for accuracy, not so much for distance. In addition try implementing some course management strategies. Keep the driver in the bag and start playing smart. Use a hybrid or 3 wood off the tee and play to the largest part of the fairway. Tee the ball low and trap the ball off the turf. This will allow you to use the ground to keep the clubface square ensuring a controlled clubface.
Allow yourself to play more golf this summer by staying healthy. Use these techniques to try and keep your ball out of the rough or woods and stay protected in case your ball travels astray. If you do happen to get bitten by a tick, take the proper precautions and get checked. Ticks spread life-threatening diseases and, if you live on the East End, it is not a matter of if, but when a tick will bite you.
Darren deMaille is the Head Golf Professional at The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Prior to The Bridge, Darren worked at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, FL and The Country Club of Fairfield in Fairfield, CT. Darren has had many top 100 instructors influence his philosophy but most of his principles are based on Jack Nicklaus’ way to play golf.