Stay hydrated and shoot lower scores.
From the outside world golf doesn’t look like a particularly energy draining sport. Have a stroll, hit a ball, have a stroll, hit a ball. Easy isn’t it? Well for those of us that play regularly we know that’s not the case, the golf swing itself can be a tiring motion, and when you accompany that with a four mile hike carrying 15-20kg of equipment it can be an arduous task.
In order to make sure your body is functioning at its peak during our rounds (especially in the summer months) we need to understand our body better. One of the key areas to prevent tiredness and lulls in concentration is staying hydrated.
Dehydration results in impaired skill performance, impaired ability to focus and concentrate for longer periods, fatigue and can contribute to heat stress. As golf is largely a game of skill it is very important golfers consume adequate fluid to maintain hydration. Fluid requirements vary largely depending on the players’ size, gender, time in play and environmental conditions.
During competition and practice/training rounds access to adequate fluid on the course is an important part of maintaining hydration. In hot weather conditions players sweat, in that sweat is the loss of electrolytes, there are tons of electrolytes out there, but in our bodies they are basically calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium chloride, hydrogen phosphate (a mineral) and hydrogen carbonate (a salt.) They regulate our nerve and muscle function, our hydration, the pH of our blood, rebuilding damaged tissue, and determining blood pressure.Too little of these electrolytes and muscles become weak, too much and they over contract.
Fluids should be carried in the golf bag and efforts should be made to keep the fluids cool to promote better intakes. Fluid requirements generally increase as the temperature increases, so golfers should monitor their average sweat rates by weighing themselves before a round and then again after in different playing conditions.
The weight deficit needs to be replaced by 1.5 times the amount of fluid lost, so:
1kg body weight lost = 1L fluids lost = 1.5L to recover
Sports drinks are ideal for long practice rounds and competition as they replace fluid as well as carbohydrate and electrolytes
· Know your sweat rates in different conditions and aim to drink 80% of this during play; e.g. if you lose approx. 800mL per hour, you should aim to drink 640mL per hour.
· Increase your fluid intake in warm weather and chill your drinks in the freezer a few hours before you play or overnight to keep them cooler.
· Include water and sports drinks to replace fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrate.
· Hydration is the golfer’s own responsibility, set a timer to go off (quietly) during your round to prompt you to take on fluids
Although the 19th hole is often the place for recreational golfers "recovery", all levels of golfers should look to recover fuel and fluid stores through good food choices immediately after the 18th hole before alcohol comes into the picture. The recovery choices become critical when playing multiple rounds in one day or backing up for a 4 day tournament.
As a rule of thumb, aim to consume a recovery snack within 30 minutes of finishing a training session or competition. This snack should contain carbohydrates, protein and a source of fluid.