Here is a story we have all heard a million times. A golfer is going along nicely in his round, hitting good shots, having a good time, and then all of the sudden in the middle of the back nine the shots start going awry. It keeps getting worse and worse until he comes into the 19th hole after his round, depressed about his finish, and mentally drained from the experience. The usual statement is “I got tired out there.” Even though physical conditioning might be a problem, it usually is not the biggest reason these total collapses happen in the middle of the back nine.
An average golf round is four hours and 30 minutes long, plus a 30 to 45 minutes warm up. If the golfer had come from work or their house it is likely that they have had little to zero nutrition in the last six hours by the end of the round. Golfers do not exert the energy a basketball or soccer player does, but physical stamina is needed to perform well, and more importantly, mental stamina is needed to perform at their best. Nutrition has to be a very important factor in the effort to perform, whether on the PGA tour or a $5 Nassau with friends.
The number one priority to keep up our stamina is water. Symptoms of dehydration happen all the time, especially in South Florida during the summer months, if a golfer does not consume a bottle or two during a golf round.
It is important to keep foods in your system during a round to help sustain your energy level. As seen in the graph, eating somethinghigh in sugar is almost as bad as not eating anything during the golf round. It is hard to steady the mind when your sugar levels are sky rocketing, and then plunging an hour later. Proper foods to keep a golfer going are foods high in protein, some carbohydrates, and natural sugars. Good foods for the course are mixed nuts, fresh fruits, mini veggie snacks, beef jerky, hard boiled eggs, and protein shakes.
The worst foods and drinks you could consume on the golf course are “nutrition” bars, granola bars, processed foods, sports drinks (such as Gatorade), pretzels, hot dogs, and unfortunately…beer. Hate to be a downer, but if you are trying to play your best these foods are not the answer. They might spike energy levels for a while, but a crash is coming.
The most important aspect of nutrition is coming prepared to the course. The snack bar, or halfway house, does not always have good nutritional choices.
I will admit I am a novice when it comes to golf nutrition, but the goal of this article is to motivate golfers to do more research on the subject, and find what is best for them. If you care about how well you play this should be a topic of interest.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is also a Coutour-certified putting fitter, a Titlteist-certified fitter and a Titliest staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email firstname.lastname@example.org.