Golf is a game of sustained concentration and energy. It’s something akin to a combination of playing chess for four and a half hours whilst riding a bike. The best preparation for this test of endurance includes fortifying the body so that you can sustain effort as well as mental and emotional stability.
Golfers who lack fuel can “drop off the pace” on the 12th to 15th holes, only to hope that adrenaline powers them through the last three holes. To avoid the roller-coaster metabolic round and arrive at the 18th feeling as though you could go another round, here are some tips:
If in doubt, drink more of this stuff than anything else. The impact on brain function alone is worthy of notice. Water will improve concentration and focus. If breakfast eluded you and the round commences without a morsel, then it is strongly recommended that you consume a bottle of water within the first 20 minutes of play.
This will alleviate the hunger pangs as well as provide much-needed hydration to your organs and muscles. Without a doubt, water is the number one fuel of choice before, during and after golf. Experts recommend that you drink at least 33 ounces during every round — more in extreme temperatures. A good rule is to draw on a water bottle when you reach each tee. Take a good swig; it calms the nerves and feeds the body.
The world today is crammed with information about food choices, calories and exercise. There is no need to get overly technical, except to say that before a long walk that generally burns 10,000 calories, it would be sensible to ensure the furnace is stoked so that you are not running on embers!
Choose low GI ingredients to ensure a slow release of energy throughout the round. Oats, grains or high protein will help. Try eggs, bacon and ham so you’ll be good to go. Avoid high sugar cereals as the “slump” is sure to come by the 6th or 7th hole. Waffles, pancakes and other highly processed foods have minimal performance value.
To hot-dog or not to hot-dog — this is the question! Ask yourself whether a hot dog is considered a healthy option under any other circumstances and the answer is probably “no.” So why would it be considered as a viable halfway option?
In part, enough calories have been spent to justify the pleasure. However, consider options that might benefit your longer-term golfing fitness: wholegrain sandwich with protein and salad, can of tuna, energy or protein balls for sustained energy, fruit, boiled eggs (a favorite), jerky, pretzels or popcorn are all better than hot dogs and potato chips. There is a range of healthy options that feed the brain and the brawn for a healthier round.
Energy or carbohydrate gels, used by long-distance runners, cyclists and tennis players, are also handy. These little satchels don’t take up much room. Plus, they are easy to grab and eat on the course. They can provide a near-instant mental and muscular boost.
Nuts and trail mix
The fuel of the gods! If you are famished, then eat the entire bag and love every second. It’s filling and the nuts provide a slow release of energy. Your body will thank you. Your cholesterol and trans fats will be grateful too.
Many golfers carry a mixed bag, take their fill to stave off hunger and boost energy, and throw the remains to the on-course birds — good karma all round! Beware the promise of the granola bar, though. While there are some genuinely healthy versions on the market, be sure to double-check the sugar content and any “weird” ingredients before assuming it is a healthy option.
If the game is being played in high summer in Florida or Australia and buckets of sweat are being donated to the water cycle then a sports drink is justified. Similarly, if you are carrying your clubs and working your muscles, then these types of drinks are justified.
The colorful bottles are filled with salts and sugars that can provide a much-needed boost to a tired and dehydrated body. However, the guys in carts who are drinking this stuff around a course in temperate conditions may as well drink soda and eat candy, as the drink will do nothing other than add inches to the waistline.
One exception to this rule is age: some elderly players thrive on the lift of a sports drink at the halfway point. A renewed lease-of-life from the sugar and salt rush has immense effects on their flagging energy.
Psych out with fruit
Playing partners are easily spooked by displays of course discipline. Adopting an eating regime on the course that is backed up with performance has the potential to psych out an opponent. A banana on the 2nd hole followed by a handful of dried fruit at the turn and an apple thereafter is a surefire way to communicate that health and wellbeing on the course are part of your game plan.
Metabolism alters with age and playing conditions. Waiting until hunger pangs set in and energy levels flag should be avoided by adopting a healthy snacking regime throughout the round. Depending on need, you might add some carbs to top up blood sugar levels and starving muscles. Beginning hydration in a pre-golf routine will also serve you well. Save your sugar hit for the 19th hole and fuel your body with quality ingredients.
If this is all a stretch, then maybe follow John Huh, Bubba Watson and Lucas Glover’s preference for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — better than a hot dog and it sustains with a mix of carbs, protein and comfort!
— N. Incoll