We discuss the best and worst things to eat and drink at the halfway hut to help you get the most out of your golf game by keeping energy levels high throughout a round.
The best and worst things to eat at the halfway hut
Last summer, we addressed the better things to be consuming during a round. Hopefully you have read this list and started putting this into practice (or at least made a note for when the lockdown lifts).
There is a reason why golf bags have many pockets on them, of course to hold the spare balls and tees but also all bags have the capacity to keep fluids cold and snacks dry. With this in mind, as you approach that halfway hut what should we be putting into the bag to help us have a better back nine or even support us on our way to our best round? What are the best and worst things to eat at the halfway hut?
Many professionals are now pictured consuming certain food types throughout a round, primarily to support fuelling, energy levels and hydration. Remember that during a round you can cover up to 10km and of course when you are playing with the big stick, the 10km walk is interspersed with repeated high intensity actions, all of which will need fuelling.
If it was me, the first thing I would be buying from the halfway hut is an ice-cold flavoured drink. Water is obviously fine, but also so too is the carbohydrate sports drink and/or a flavoured milk. The reason I say fluid first is to help keep us hydrated and ready for the back nine.
Previous research in golfers showed how mild dehydration can impair distance, accuracy and distance judgement during golf performance. Mild dehydration was defined as a 1-2% change in body mass due to sweating. So, the next time you’re playing in the summer sun and you start sweating think about your fluid loss and relationship to accuracy of shots played – time to stay hydrated.
Milk is a fantastic drink to consume to help with hydration and it is common knowledge with sports nutritionists how milk can actually be a very effective during exercise and post-exercise rehydration drink.
The next thing I would opt for would be a carbohydrate-based snack, ideally a granola bar, banana or chicken wrap. Keep it sensible and easy but look at this carbohydrate option as your fuel to put in your tank to keep you going for the back 9.
Again, there is a plethora of evidence showing how carbohydrates can help raise blood glucose and muscle glycogen concentrations, two important considerations for when you are walking the hill to the 18th tee.
The professionals consume carbohydrates during the round so why don’t you? Remember, what I mentioned in the first article that if you have ever felt flat or low on energy entering the back 9 then research supports this too. In particular, blood glucose levels have been shown to decrease and following completion of an 18-hole course, mean blood glucose levels fell on average by 20%, 10% and 30% in young (27 ± 5 years), middle-aged (50 ± 7 years) and older men (75 ± 4 years), respectively.
The final thing I would go for at the halfway hut would be an intake of caffeine. Now this can be a cup of tea or a coffee (obviously a coffee would have more caffeine in it). If you are not a fan of either, then maybe it’s time to purchase some caffeine gum or carbohydrate/caffeine gel for the bag (we will cover this in a future article).
The reason I think it’s important to consider a caffeine intake halfway around is because, like with any elite performance, we want to finish strong, arguably stronger than we started. In a randomised controlled study, with experienced golfers, the consumption of an isotonic carbohydrate sports drink containing caffeine prior to and during a round of golf improved putting performance and increased feelings of alertness.
Similarly, a moderate dose (1-2 coffee’s) consumed before and during a round of golf improves golf specific measures (i.e., total score, greens in regulation and drive distance. In particular during this study, those golfers who consumed caffeine hit 9 GIR versus 7 for those who consumed a placebo! I know I would take an extra two GIR’s each time I play!
Halfway hut options I would be staying well away from are the high saturated fat foods and high sugary fluids. Think about the sausage roll that has been sitting on the warm shelf all day with a meat content likely to be lower than 50-60% or the classic bag of crisps which are not really providing you with any performance benefits.
Another reason I don’t like the pastries and crisps is because they can become messy, they normally fall apart, and then you see players finishing them before frantically trying to clean their hands and glove from the grease before they pull out the wood on the 10th!
The higher sugary drinks are the classic fizzy pops, although there is a rationale for the sugar hit to help with energy stores, ideally, we want this to come from a more sustained and/or prolonged option which would result in a less rapid rise in blood glucose (i.e., flavoured milk / sports drink).
To keep things simple with your decisions at the halfway hut, just think about what the professionals would be consuming. As you stand at the till before you purchase, would Tiger, Justin Rose and Phil be buying this or not?
In summary, I propose you now follow a three-step process (“The Halfway Hut three R’s”) when you next step into the halfway hut:
Rehydrate – Sports drink / Milk
Refuel – Carbohydrate based snack
Re-focus – caffeinated beverage or supplement