Golf is a demanding sport. Here at The Golf Academy, we spend a majority of our time talking about the mental side of golf, a side that I think people forget about too often. Today, however, I want to talk about the physical aspect of golf, specifically, how to keep your body well energized during your round.
Now maybe I’m the only one, but it’s impossible for me to think about anything besides food if I’m hungry on the golf course. It’s one thing to sit in an office with no food but if you’re stranded on the 12th hole with nothing but a growling stomach I’m sure you’re not having any fun and, even worse yet, you’re probably not playing very well either.
Think of it like this; golf requires a lot of energy, both in terms of physically walking and hitting the ball as well as mentally in order to select which club you want to use, plan your shot, and control the game. Now imagine that your body doesn’t have enough energy to do some of these things we just mentioned. Of course, you’re not going to play well! This is why it’s so important to keep your energy levels up during your round.
When it comes to satisfying your hunger during a round there’s not one perfect way to do it. Personally, I like to eat a meal before I leave for the golf course (usually a big meal like breakfast or lunch) which gives me a chance to digest my food before starting my round. There have also been times where I’ve simply eaten a granola bar or a muffin before stepping out on the first tee because I was running a little late. Either way, having eaten something before you take your first shot gives you the energy you need to start your round off strong.
Another great idea for combating hunger is grabbing food at the turn. At a lot of courses, the natural design of the course will eventually bring you back to the clubhouse after nine holes. While you might not have the time to have a full sit-down meal, grabbing a burger or a hot dog and heading to the 10th hole is a great way to fend off hunger especially if you didn’t bring some food along with you.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easiest to grab food during the round. While sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs might not seem like a complicated request by the time you drive up to the club house, put in your order and then get your food you could’ve been a hole or two out. Besides the time factor to consider, eating at the turn can also be an expensive proposition. While a granola bar and a banana from home might only cost a few dollars you can easily spend north of $8-10 on a quick bite to eat (something a college student like myself is more concerned with but, let’s be honest, there’s a lot of over priced food at some golf courses).
Finally, you can keep yourself well fed using different beverage carts that might drive around on certain courses or by bringing your own food from home (my personal favorite). While buying food on the course is quick and easy there’s a good chance that the food you’re getting isn’t what your body needs in order to help you play your best. More on this…
In my opinion eating the right type of food is the most important part of this whole equation. While a Snickers bar might sound great on the 7th hole, by the time you get to the back nine you won’t have any energy left you’ll have burned through all the sugar already.
So what should you be eating?
Ideally, you want to look for food that has a high protein to carb ratio. This will provide your body with a steady energy source that lasts much longer than some of the simple carbs in candy or other junk food. This can include:
- a protein or granola bar
- yogurt (although that requires means to keep it cold)
- or even trail mix (turns out a little sugar is okay)
Besides protein, eating “natural” carbs that are as fresh and unprocessed as possible is also ideal. This can include:
- dried fruits and nuts
- or a favorite of Tiger Woods and myself, bananas (potassium is great during physical activity)
Now, of course, there are other things that can be substituted for this list based on your own personal preferences but all of these are great options to either buy or bring with you on the course. So next time you’re stuck on the 14th hole after forgetting to eat lunch, don’t cave and go for the candy bar or potato chips. Be smart and opt for a banana and water or a granola bar and I promise your body, and your scorecard will thank you by the time you come off the 18th. Until next time golfers, be smart about what you put in your body and keep eating out on the links.