An often overlooked part of playing golf is how much energy you use on the golf course. Our bodies run like machines and if you are using incorrect, low quality or the wrong amounts of fuel, you can have issues. It is important that you are fueling your body with enough high quality fuel to give you the best possible chance to play great golf.
The first step is to analyze the actual energy requirements for a round of golf. The average round of golf lasts for 220 minutes and you cover around 5.5mi of ground. Most of this activity is conducted at what is called a “moderate” level. This means that you are working at around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. There would also me the occasional burst of higher levels of intensity during the round and you would burn around 2000 – 2500 calories. These are general figures but they give us a starting point from which to work.
Nutrition for good golf should consist of before round meals and snacks on the course. Your main meal should be eaten around 4 hours before you play and consist of a healthy balance of food with good carbohydrates included. The 4 hour time frame allows for digestion before playing. Around an hour before you play you should include a carbohydrate rich snack to ensure you are fully fueled and ready to play. Carbohydrate rich snacks are also useful while you play.
Hydration is also an extremely important part of preparing your body for golf and ensuring you perform to your maximum ability. Around 17oz of fluid should be consumed 2 hours before you play with another 500ml consumed in the 30 minutes before your tee time. This will ensure that you are adequately hydrated before you tee off. Studies have shown that a golfer competing in the temperature range of 75 – 90 degrees with average humidity will lose approximately 17-27oz of fluid per hour. This would suggest that you need to drink this amount during your round of golf. A simple way to monitor your fluid levels during a round of golf is to weigh yourself before and after you play. Every 2 lb of weight you have lost during your round is 33oz of fluid you should have consumed on the course. A 1% drop in body mass during a round of golf will lead to an increased heart rate and a 3% drop will significantly reduce performance levels.
I stress to all my students that you listen to your body and do what works for you. Use the information I have provided here to give you a starting point and then adjust it as you need to give you the best possible performance.
Some of the common questions I get asked about fluid and nutrition are outlined and answered below.
Feel free to ask any other questions through the comments section and I will answer them as soon as possible.
Until next time,
Brent Davis, PGA Australia
The Golf Science Centre