New Zealanders didn’t invent skin cancer, but they’ve come close to perfecting it: their country is stuck under one of the skimpier parts of the ozone layer. The only time the tops of my ears have ever peeled was during a golf trip Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, in 2007 (photo above). So it isn’t surprising that New Zealanders have also created the best sunscreen for golfers: GolfersSkin, which is used by a large and growing number of tour pros and caddies. It’s sweat-proof, and it isn’t greasy, and it doesn’t stain golf shirts, and it comes in several forms—among them, now, a spray, which is especially easy to apply to bare arms and legs. My wife says the non-spray versions smell like “fine coconut cologne”; the spray is coconut-free, and if you use it in combination with insect repellent you can turn your legs into a La Brea-Tar-Pits-style mausoleum for flying and crawling bugs.
As I drove home from my dermatologist’s office, I felt more than slightly annoyed. Slicing two bumps from the side of my nose had taken the doctor roughly eleven seconds, from Novocain to Band-Aid, yet had cost me more than a thousand dollars. With five minutes of instruction, I figured, I could have performed the operation myself, using tools I already own. But I calmed down a few weeks later, when I went back for a follow-up appointment. One of the bumps was just a harmless old-guy surface enigma, the doctor said. The other, though, was something I really did need a licensed physician to deal with: a basal cell carcinoma—skin cancer.
Golfers face an elevated risk of developing all sorts of skin trouble—especially golfers who, like me, grew up in the sunburn era, when kids were pretty much expected to broil away the top few layers of their epidermis every summer. Most of the sun-related products that people used in those days were intended not to prevent damage caused by solar radiation but to exacerbate it. My pals and I used to bet Cokes on who could peel off the largest intact sheet of stomach skin.
My bump removal took place a decade ago. A few days later, I showed up at the golf course with a pair of small bandages on my nose. The bandages attracted comment, and I was partly comforted and partly appalled to learn how many other members of my small club had suffered various skin cancers, most of them more troubling than mine. Friends showed me galaxies of scars on their arms, foreheads, faces, ears, and bald spots. Two current members and two former members have even been treated for melanoma, the hydrogen bomb of dermatological problems. One of the current members lost most of one calf in an operation to remove her tumor; one of the former members received 140 stitches in his stomach. Both are still alive, though—unlike a guy I knew in high school, who was too late in discovering the asymmetrical, irregularly bordered, unevenly colored, large-diameter mole lurking in the folds of his belly button.
Last month, one of the guys on the Sunday Morning Group’s annual buddies trip to Atlantic City told me about a sunscreen that, he said, was created specifically for golfers. It’s from New Zealand, and it’s used by large and growing number of tour pros and caddies. It’s called GolfersSkin, and it’s terrific: it’s sweat-proof, and it isn’t greasy, and it doesn’t stain golf shirts, and (according to my wife) it “smells like fine coconut cologne.”
It comes in three forms: lotion, “hands-free stick,” and lip balm. I bought ’em all, and I keep the stick and the lip balm in my golf bag, for touch-ups. And here’s the one-liter dispenser, for the clubhouse or, if you play enough golf, the trunk of your car: