If you've gone to the effort of getting lessons and buying new equipment, you should make sure you're eating right. Professional nutrition coach Phil Holmes is here to help
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In the past decade in golf there has been a major focus shift towards the power element and distances the very best players can propel the ball. And this has filtered down through the game. For example, the emergence of Trackman and the new generation of golf instructors has allowed us mere mortals the chance to improve our spin rate, club path, and clubhead speed.
In addition, equipment is released regularly with the promise of helping our game and if you follow the likes of Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, and the Peter Pan-esque Phil Mickelson, we are also hitting the gym in order to get fit, stay fit and improve our golf.
So my opening question is, why, after spending time and money on lessons, equipment, and personal gym instruction, do so many golfers eat a bacon butty on white bread before they go out and play?
It’s a rather sweeping generalisation, but I frequently see golfers hinder their own chances of success – which can be anything from playing below your handicap to taking the money on a golf trip – by fuelling themselves rather poorly. As an old saying goes, you can’t run a four-star engine on two-star fuel.
Research varies on the amateur golfer’s ability to play below their handicap, but if we use the 1-in-4 suggestion, it seems that 75 per cent of our competitive golf will frustrate us. I firmly believe we can improve our chances by consistently fuelling smarter.
As a guide for the current state of our golf season, and remember it’s cold, the current ground conditions mean that many of us are carrying our bag. Even with a half set on a shorter course that means lugging between 6-10 kilograms almost four miles.
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Golf nutrition: So what should you eat?
A bowl of porridge before you play is preferential to a regular sugary cereal or higher sodium bacon or sausage sandwich. It’s warming before you go out, allows energy to be released at a slower rate and is therefore ideal for the time out on the course. Adding chia, pumpkin, and/or sunflower seeds will also provide healthy fats which we will use for energy when walking the course at a slow intensity. Add blueberries or raspberries if you want to enhance the micronutrient content, which are vital for, well, vitality.
To aid hydration on cold days take a flask with herbal tea – green is an excellent choice – or my own preference is to slice 6-8 pieces of root ginger and add hot water. Both contain antioxidants which are brilliant for helping our bodies protect themselves against damage. Green tea has higher medicinal properties and ginger brings immunity which is ideal at this time of year.
Now this is just an introduction to the many benefits that nutrition can offer so keep an eye out throughout the year for further information which will include things like how to prepare effectively for a full round, how to fuel smart for an evening match after work, the best halfway house in golf, fuelling for 36 holes in a day, as well as specific advice for juniors, ladies and seniors.
In the meantime eat smart, feel good, play great.