I'm sure we can agree golf is fun! You know what's not fun?
Skin cancer's not fun.
So you've come home again and you're burnt. What's worse than putting your head on the pillow to sleep and a fiery heat and pain scorches the side of your head? Nothing worse than burnt ears!
With the increased risk of skin cancers as we get older, those long lazy days on the course take their toll without a hat. So many of my golf friends over 40 have had lesions cut out of their skin from overexposure to the sun playing golf.
For you and your family, it's best to wear something on that big dome of yours. This short guide will give you the most effective options to stop your skin turning into a leather handbag and protect you from the punishing UV rays.
Been there, done that, got the hat
I've used every hat out there. I've tried the normal caps and visors. Golf caps still expose your neck and ears and aren't great for sun protection. Visors are a little more useless because there's a hole in the damn thing!
There are only two things I fear when in the sun. One is to look like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the other is burnt ears.
Best Golf Hats for Sun Protection
- Golf Sidekick Waddaplaya Bucket (best hats for all head sizes)
- DPC Outdoors Solarweave (best golf hat for sun protection alternative to Tilley)
- Coolibar Matchplay Golf Hat (best wide brim bucket hat)
- Callaway 2016 Bucket Hat (best narrow brim bucket hat)
- Coolibar UPF 50+ Men's Holden Packable Travel Fedora (best cowboy looking hat)
- Sunday Afternoons Havana Hat (best Havana style hat)
- Aussie Chiller Outback Golf Hat (best soft cowboy hat)
- Ralph Lauren Bucket (very fancy hat for sun protection)
What to keep in mind when getting a hat for golf
No hat is going to keep you from getting burnt completely. The best options are going to have wide brims and will be made of synthetic materials to keep you cool.
You want to avoid the caps and visors. Visors should be totally avoided if you're thinning up top like so many of us masculine men are.
Also, use a golf hat in conjunction with a good sun cream. Something like the Biore waterbased cream I use in the harsh SE Asian sun.
Created, tested, used and made by Golf Sidekick for standard and LARGE heads
I have created my own bucket hat and sell them at www.waddaplayagolf.com
The fabric used is the same as what is used in dry fit golf shirts. These are the very same hats I wear on my channel on Youtube. Dry fit fabric means your head stays cool in even 100° weather.
The secret sauce is however, the fact the brim is not stiff so when there is wind around, the hat doesn't blow off your head. It stays on your head in even the most trying conditions.
I played a round in 50mph gusts and the hat never came off once. What else does the soft brim mean? Well, there are a lot BIG HEADED people out there and the relaxed fit means it can stretch to fit your head up to 64cm (25 inches) in circumference.
They are easily washable and can be stuffed in your pocket or golf bag and pop back into shape in a second.
Wide brim cotton hat for temperate climates
The DPC Outdoors Solarweave Treated Cotton Hat is a winner on so many levels.
The fabric is certified 50+ UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and with the mesh in the top, you'll feel that breeze blowing through and your sweat will evaporate quickly. The top is totally closed so don't worry about the sun coming through the top part.
A built in sweat band will stop your sweat rolling down into your eyes and helps keep the hat in place. For extra security, there is a cord to adjust the fit of the hat.
Big wide brim for maximum sun protection
The bucket hat is always one of the best golf hats for sun protection because of the all-round brim. This Coolibar Matchplay hat has a 4" brim which makes it unbeatable for shading your whole neck and face.
If you pop your golf shirt collar up, you have in impenetrable protection from the sun. It's like having an umbrella on our head.
The hat can feel a little heavy and to be honest, doesn't look very 'slick' or 'professional' but if your main concern is sun protection, this is the best golf hat for sun protection.
Lightweight and slightly narrower brim
Super cool hat that's very light and breathable. This is a multi purpose hat for golf, tennis, running and hiking. You can use this thing everywhere if you're a multidiscipline sportsman.
The fabric is moisture-wicking and my favorite part about this hat is not the function, but it looks so similar to Tiger Woods cucket he used to wear.
There are 2 sizes so if you have a big melon, you can still fit into one. The Callaway 2016 Classic hat is synthetic so when you're sweating your bag off, you won't have a hot head and a soaking wet hat. Callaway make top quality products and this hat is no different.
Breathable and cool so your head doesn't get hot
My favorite hat for sun protection while playing golf is definitely a cowboy hat. I like to look like a maverick. The Stetson is a classic
The secret to a good cowboy hat is that is needs to be made of straw or synthetic materials. I've played in many kinds of cowboy hats but found the suede and leather types don't keep my head cool and get very stained by the sweat which doesn't evaporate quickly.
That's why straw or grass hats work best. Wind will blow through the small gaps and dry your head and keep you nice and cool. The brims have wire in them so you can also turn the sides up for a slightly more 'maverick' look.
Like a mini-cowboy hat that protects those ears
This is a super easy, wrinkle-resistant, hat that you can pack into your travel case or golf bag and take it with you anywhere you go.
You can use it on the course, while you're on a boat, taking a walk around the island or out for lunch. The fabric is moisture wicking and with a rating of 50 UPF, you're not going to get burned where this thing covers you.
The best part is that it's a fedora but looks a bit more down-to-earth as a mini cowboy stetson.
Slick James Bond style golfing hat
The Havana and Fedora looks slick. While the brims are not as wide as the bucket hats or the hunting hats out there, the Sunday Afternoons Havana Hat still offers you great sun protection.
On top of looking like James Bond on the golf course, the hats are also crushable so you don't need to worry about your bag crushing the brim or the head part.
I've used these hats countless times and even stuff them in the side pocket of my golf bag.
My choice of golf hat
I like off-beat hats with floral designs or childish designs on them. Most people don't take me seriously on the course when they see my hats but once I hit a shot, they know I'm there to play.
Mix it up. Put your personality into how you dress on the course. I like narrower brimmed hats like the Ralph Lauren bucket and I like them bright.
This hat can just be thrown into the bag, into the car and can be stuffed in your back pocket.
Without a doubt, THE BEST sun cream I've ever used is this one my wife bought me in Japan. Now I live in Thailand and the sun is vicious out here. Since using this sun cream on my face and neck particularly, people don't believe I live in the tropics.
Hands-down my sun cream of choice. I apply it once before the round and keeps my complexion delightful for the full 18. It also softens out the skin and your missus will notice those wrinkles getting shallower.
The best part is that there is no oily residue after applying so you can apply it on the first tee and rip your drive down the middle without needing to wash your hands.
In the end the choice comes down to how you like to look on the course. When I feel regal, I wear the Havana. When I'm feeling like a crazy man, I wear the cowboy hat. But in general, I use narrow brimmed bucket hats from my own making.
In general all of the hats above will be great for sun protection. I would strongly suggest avoiding caps and visors if you want sun protection. Your neck and ears are still too exposed leaving that opportunity for those little cancer spots so many of our buddies have cut out of their faces.