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Golf and alcohol have an uneasy relationship, akin to that of an old married couple – they belong together, but they often disagree, particularly in the mornings.
As with marriage, golf with a hangover is testing. All of us who enjoy a drink or two have experienced it at some point in our golfing career – You’re stood on the 1st tee and it feels like a washing machine in full spin is trying to escape from your head, you’re sweating from every pore and shaking like a leaf, your tongue feels like a pork scratching and every muscle in your body aches.
You’re psychologically ruined and have “the fear” to such an extent that the only golfing thoughts you can muster are of air-shots, skys, tops and shanks. How are you supposed to play golf in this state? Well, here are some tips.
Now, the most obvious way to prevent a hangover is to not drink so much the night before. Clearly this is unrealistic. Thankfully, though, there are other, more feasible, options for hangover avoidance. These can loosely be split into three main categories – solid, liquid and chemical.
There’s nothing quite like a greasy fry-up for soaking up the previous night’s unpleasantness.
It’s also great for replacing some of the essential salts you will have lost. A good method is to set your alarm (can be tricky,) get up early before the hangover has a chance to take hold, and ram as much fried produce into yourself as is humanly possible.
Also effective can be a late-night kebab. If you can stomach (and retain) a large doner before bed, you’re giving yourself a fighting chance.
Unfortunately, in the most severe cases, getting a full English/Scottish/Welsh/Irish down and keeping it there is simply impossible. Those afflicted this badly will be forced to steer down one of the other routes.
Basically if you have a hangover, you’re dehydrated so an obvious way to prevent one is to drink six gallons of water before you go to bed. This, like setting an alarm, can be challenging and it will mean you’ll have to get up in the night every 45 minutes or so. It is best that you do get up though.
If you forget to go through the late night water ritual, there’s still time to flood the hangover before it finds its feet in the morning. Water is the classic choice, but a sports drink can be good too as many of these contain electrolytes that you will have lost in various pub toilets the previous evening.
Alternatively, Irn Bru has a mystical power that hangovers across the world fear, and 16 cups of weak tea have been known to do the trick in some cases.
How about a smoothie? Banana, honey and yogurt will provide the right mix of potassium, calcium and sugar to kick start your internal organs. The banana will give your potassium levels a boost, the yogurt will provide you with calcium and the honey will begin to replace lost sugars.
For the most experienced veterans, however, the only thing that will do is “hair of the dog.” Nothing knocks booze-related illness on the head quite like more booze. It might be frowned upon in some circles, but it’s true.
If you get up too late and haven’t had a chance to strike before the hangover digs its claws in, the only option is to bombard it with drugs.
Alka-Seltzer is a popular choice as you also drink a large glass of water while consuming the dissolvable tablets. Otherwise, just standard painkillers will do fine.
If you feel sick, then try an anti-nausea tablet like Motilium (children’s travel sickness tablets produce roughly the same results and can be found in many family medicine cabinets.)
For legal purposes we should add – never take more than the recommended dose.
When you’ve done all you can to prevent or cure the hangover but you still feel like a badger is living in your skull when you step on the tee, how can you try to play through it? Here are a few suggestions:
A good psychological technique for dealing with a hangover is to completely deny you have one. Don’t say anything to your playing partners about over-indulging the night before.
If they mention you don’t look too well, say you slept badly; if you feel nauseated, blame it on a suspect Weetabix; if you begin to suffer a panic attack at the prospect of a tight par-5, blame it on mental illness (any suggestions of this being related to excessive alcohol consumption must be strongly refuted.)
Try and lure the hangover’s attention away from you by telling some good stories, or even a few jokes. Continue to push fluids and, by the time the hangover knows what’s happening, you might just have seen it off.
Wallow in it
If you give yourself over completely to the hangover, you’ll be feeling so sorry for yourself that you won’t have time to worry about how the golf’s going. You’ll be playing on automatic pilot and you’ll be too busy wailing and moaning to notice you’re racking up pars and birdies. Some great rounds have been completed by the hungover.
If you have any more suggestions, please do let us know!
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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