Optimal nutrition is essential for any sport – golf is no different. It is a sport that combines short high intensity movements with longer lower intensity periods, strong mental focus, and the need to maintain energy over several hours. All of these factors require paying attention to what you eat on the golf course.
Your nutritional requirements on the golf course can vary depending on a number of factors such as whether you walk or take a cart (why aren’t you walking?!), the temperature & humidity, and how many holes you are playing.
Let’s look at the typical round of golf. Your 18 hole round will last about 4-5 hours with an average of 8 kilometers (5 miles) walked, and approximately 1500-1800 calories burned. That is a lot of physical energy expended (not to mention the mental energy required to focus for 18 holes). The goal is to maintain your physical & mental energy for all 18 holes – you don’t want your lack of nutrition to negatively affect your round.
So what should you eat and drink during your round?
Sure beer sounds like a great idea when playing a round with friends, but if you are looking to improve your technique & score, stick to water. Hydration is especially important on hot & humid days. Most research suggests drinking 0.4 to 0.8 L of water per hour. Don’t forget to pack your water bottle and fill up whenever you pass a water station or at the turn.
Since golf is a game played over several hours and usually under warm or hot conditions, it is important to add some energy into your hydration to help maintain mental focus, technique, and sustain energy levels. Some options include: sport drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) or fruit juice diluted with water. Research suggests 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour is sufficient.
Eating on the golf course will help sustain your energy over the 4-5 hour round. To avoid reaching for the chips and chocolate bars at the snack shack, you will want to ensure you have packed some better snacks options in your golf bag.
There are a couple of suggested ways to time your eating on the course. You could break the 18 holes down into the rule of 6 – which means consuming food during holes 1-6, again during holes 7-12, and during the final 13-18 holes. Another option is to eat something during the front 9 and again during the back 9. Either way you choose is personal preference, but the goal remains the same – maintain your energy over all 18 holes.
Here are some suggestions of appropriate snacks easy to pack & go!
Fruit (dried or fresh)
Nuts or trail mix
½ sandwich (peanut butter, ham & cheese, turkey…)
Smoothie (mix of protein & fruit)
Energy bites (recipe below!)
Don’t let your nutrition be your handicap on the course!
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Cup Coconut Flakes
½ Cup Ground Flaxseed (optional)
½ Cup Mini Dark Chocolate Chips and/or raisins
½ Cup sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or whatever you have in your cupboard
½ Cup Peanut Butter (or other nut/non-nut butter)*
⅓ Cup Honey
1 tsp Vanilla
In a medium bowl, add oatmeal, coconut flakes, flax seed, mini chocolate chips and raisins.
In a small bowl, whisk peanut butter, honey and vanilla.
Pour wet mix into dry bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or freeze.