How often do you resist your hunger urges during a round of golf by telling yourself you’ll eat when you reach the clubhouse? How often do you forego food at the halfway hut because you think eating something results in a guaranteed double-bogey the next hole? How often do you struggle to drag your legs up the 18th fairway because you’re so low on energy?
Most golfers reading this will answer ‘regularly’ to at least one of the above questions, but nutrition in golf is extremely important, and something we should all take seriously.
Some rounds of golf can burn as many as 2,000 calories. To give some perspective, that’s the recommended daily intake for women and 500 short of the daily recommended intake for men.
If you haven’t consumed enough calories, you become tired. If you’re tired, you’re far more likely to make bad decisions and mental mistakes that could cost you the monthly medal or even the club championship.
The first thing to do is make sure you come prepared. If you don’t equip yourself with some of the best snacks to have in your golf bag, you’ll inevitably end up eating chocolate bars, which really won’t do you much good.
Before all that, though, you need to consider what to eat before playing golf. Making sure you've had a solid meal that will fuel you for what's to come is essential. As is drinking water regularly in order to avoid feeling dehydrated, which affects performance. This is also key for anyone wanting to learn how to play golf with a hangover.
After three or four holes, a good idea is to eat a cereal bar. This will provide a small boost of carbohydrate and ensure you aren’t dipping into your reserves. The more you dip into your reserves, the more your energy levels will suffer.
You don’t want to eat many carbs as the aim at this point is to stabilise levels, not increase them. Some will favour fruit and nuts, which provide a good balance of slowly digesting fibre and fat.
Around the turn, you should be looking to eat something that provides a good balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Something like a tuna or chicken sandwich on brown bread is ideal – chicken and tuna provide high-quality and therefore more digestible protein, and brown bread is a source of preferable carbs.
Bacon is more processed and eating white bread can result in a crash, so as tempting as it is, it’s probably best to avoid a bacon sandwich on white. Over the final six holes, you should be looking for an energy boost – this will make sure you don’t feel sluggish and help you concentrate. Bananas, dried fruit and nuts are all good options.
It's an often-overlooked aspect of performance but it can make a huge difference. So, just as you spend time and money on lessons and new equipment, invest a little into your nutrition and fuel yourself for better golf.
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Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel win The Masters and PGA Championship respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email email@example.com with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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