How to keep your cool: Heat safety on the golf course

Try these tips for keeping your crew safe as temperatures rise outside.


Scott Corwin
Scott Corwin, director of golf course & landscape maintenance at Timber Pines Golf Course in Spring Hill, Fla. Photo courtesy of Golf Safety

Editor’s note: The following article was supplied by Golf Safety. All product claims, research cited and other information is directly from the company.

​​The 2023 summer season has arrived, along with scorching temperatures and potentially dangerous weather conditions. This year is predicted to see one of the hottest summers on record, which makes it even more essential to educate your crew on heat safety and help them mitigate the risks. It could (literally) save lives!

Scott Corwin, director of golf course & landscape maintenance at Timber Pines Golf Course in Spring Hill, Fla., and 36-year GCSAA member, provided his insights on heat safety and protecting his crew. Hailing from the hottest country in the state, Corwin shared his valuable on-the-ground experience with us and emphasized how important education was to the process of keeping his crew safe.

Weather and Temperature Monitoring

When working in high heat, monitoring the weather and changing temperatures could be the difference between life and death. “Like a lot of people down here, we watch the weather numerous times throughout the day,” Corwin says. To keep his team safe during the summer months, Corwin uses the OSHA Heat Safety Tool app, which shares the real-time heat index, as well as warnings for dangerous temperatures. “I just pulled it up, and today it's in the danger zone,” he says, “So we'll take that into consideration.” Corwin is referring to how dangerous heat index levels can affect your team’s schedule during the summer season. To prevent his crew from working outside in hazardous conditions, Corwin schedules the more strenuous tasks for the morning when it’s cooler. “We definitely don't push the guys this time of year. We regulate the hours and make sure we’re not working in the afternoon during the summer months,” he says. “That really helps a lot to mitigate the risks.”

Inclement Weather Protocol

Keeping a clear line of communication with your crew and reminding them of their safety protocols are important steps to take in case of an emergency. “We all know that communication is the biggest thing,” Corwin emphasizes when asked about the specific steps he takes during dangerous weather conditions. “We have radios and cell phones, and we call everybody, and we get them back to the shop as soon as possible if there's any inclement weather coming.” It’s important to confirm that your crew knows what the protocol is if severe weather approaches the facility. When a new crew member joins your facility, ensure that their training covers what to do in this situation.

Heat Safety Education

In Corwin’s opinion, heat safety is simple. “We're not reinventing the wheel here,” he says. “We know what jobs to do and what people do when it gets hot out, and we just work around the parameters.” Corwin ensures that his team is well aware of the risks involved and how to avoid them by hosting regular safety training sessions throughout the year.

Your crew should know the signs of heat stress and stay vigilant if they notice symptoms in themselves or their coworkers. Protocol at the Timber Pines facility is to get potentially sick team members to the shop and evaluate their condition immediately. Though Corwin considers heat safety simple, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take it seriously. “We've actually had to call the paramedics one time in the past five years because somebody had heat stress,” he says, “So we take it very seriously if that arises.”

Access to Appropriate PPE

The significance of personal protective equipment cannot be overstated when it comes to heat safety. Your crew should never be working in hot conditions without access to appropriate PPE. Corwin provides his Timber Pines crew with safari hats and their choice of either long-sleeved uniforms or SPF50 sleeves that team members can wear underneath a short-sleeved shirt. “If they want to go with the short sleeve shirts, we provide them with the sleeves that you can pull up that are SPF50,” Corwin says. “That way, in the mornings, they can have short sleeves, and then in the afternoon if the sun skits out, they can put the sleeves on.” Working in hot conditions is tough, which is why it’s so helpful to allow your team flexible PPE options that work for them - as Corwin does at his facility.

Maintaining a Consistent Routine

Over and above implementing protocols, heat safety is all about maintaining a consistent routine. “I think it's just a... Oh, what's the word I'm looking for? It's just the right way to do things. It's just part of our daily life, our regimen,” says Corwin. “You’ve just got to stay on top of it like a lot of other little things, you know?” Repeatedly emphasizing heat safety training at your facility to remind your team of the risks is key to building a routine that keeps everyone safe.

When it comes to maintaining these important safety routines at the Timber Pines facility, Golf Safety’s training videos have been an integral part of the process. Corwin shares that, from his perspective, Golf Safety’s professionalism is the biggest benefit. “When we hired Golf Safety, it was bringing a professional into our group here,” Corwin says. “ You know, we do a great job as far as maintaining turf and growing grass and producing a product that the membership can enjoy. But when it comes to safety, it's good to have a partnership with a professional organization that helps you keep everything up to standards with OSHA.”

When asked about challenges he’s faced maintaining safety among his crew, Corwin replies that he doesn’t see safety as a challenge - rather, he sees it as an opportunity for success. “If [your crew] is not safe and happy and healthy, then you're not really going to create a product for your membership,” he says. “So I don't really look at it as a challenge as much as a benefit to help the staff succeed.”

Summer temperatures are coming in hot, so make sure you keep your cool in these upcoming months and ensure that your team knows how to protect themselves from heat risks. Just as Corwin emphasized, one of the best ways to maintain safety standards is with thorough education and consistent reminders. Use Golf Safety’s range of training videos to keep your crew safe and educate them on heat safety.