It’s well known that water is the main recommendation when trying to remain hydrated. But why is it so beneficial? Sports nutritionist Phil Holmes explains

Now that the novelty is wearing off and the frustrations which form the basis of our great game start to return, how do you keep your cool on the course?

Our bodies love to stay at a regular temperature. Overheating is detrimental and so, on hot days, we sweat. This process sees blood flow to the skin to encourage sweating and therefore cooling of the core temperature. The sweat needs to evaporate in order to help this. Therefore the higher priced ‘moisture wicking’ golf shirts are worth the purchase. And there’s no rule to how much we perspire individually. Some people sweat heavy and others a lot less.

Fitness levels also play a part. Lean muscle tissue has a far higher water content than adipose – or fat – tissue. Ultimately if you are young, lean, fit and use an electric trolley, you’re helping your body big time. Drinking water before and during the round gives you further advantage.

Once we start to sweat we reduce our hydration levels and, as many are aware, dropping by just 2% begins to affect muscle speed, strength, our co-ordination and our ability to think properly – or caddie for ourselves.

The golf course you play undoubtedly affects hydration. A links course often has a breeze and helps us stay cool. Playing a hilly course will place extra demands on our muscles and blood flow. Those familiar with both courses would see how the back nine at Huddersfield Golf Club is far more of a threat to our thermostat on a hot day than the back nine on the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa.

hydration for golf

Humidity is rarely an issue in the UK but the direct heat from the sun can be. The time of day you play at can be detrimental. This can also be a factor for golfers who practice regularly – standing in white bunker sand in the peak sunshine will place more stress on your air conditioning system.

The overall functioning of the human machine sees water support our hydration levels, making our blood easier to transport to the areas which need it most and the longer we can remain in this state the better. Becoming dehydrated means our blood is slightly thicker, moves slower and increases our heart rate. This isn’t desirable when we are three holes from home, holding on to a great score and where our system will already pick up speed from the nerves and adrenaline.

Golf permits us to eat while playing. Big stodgy foods slow down the rate we can absorb nutrients and replace lost fluid, as do sugary drinks. So eat small, easily absorbed snacks, and include fruit to give extra water. Sodium will decrease but dilute squash with a pinch of salt will get you through the round.

Elite players and caddies should use this form of drink if heading for a practice session post-round. Eating pasta with a ready made sauce, olives and cheese will also replace sodium and chloride minerals whilst discouraging further urine loss thus allowing maximum performance in the afternoon session.

Depending on tee times, half a litre of water an hour before play will help. Drink every even numbered tee to get into a routine. If practising, build your own routine – every 15 minutes or 25 balls hit for example. Carry an insulated bottle to keep the drink cool or freeze a drink overnight. Help the environment with a reusable bottle. 

And when faced with the 19th hole, alcohol increases dehydration due to its diuretic properties. Adding lemonade slightly reduces this effect!

If you have any golf nutrition questions for Phil you can get in touch via his website or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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