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Nutrition for Golf

By: Calum McLellan, CISSN, CSCS, NASM-PESSports Nutritionist and Sports Performance SpecialistSpectrum Sports PerformanceIs Good Nutrition Necessary For Golfers?

The short answer is yes! When looking at the demands of golf, one might be inclined to think that it’s not a very intense sport. However, when we look deeper at what the sport of golf asks of its participants, it’s a very different story. For starters, it requires a lot of walking (assuming your not using a cart). When looking into the answer for how much walking it requires, I found that it depends on the course your playing (duh!,) but over all we can safely say that a round of 18 holes will force you to walk about 5 ½ miles. The other demands of golf require tremendous amounts of mental focus, power, and finesse. With all of this in mind, we can now see how having a sound nutrition strategy would be superior to just “winging it” or ignoring the fact that it will have any effect on your golf game.

Although every meal for a golfer is important, I am going to dedicate the rest of this blog to strategies for what you can do directly before, during, and immediately after you sink that last putt. Symptoms of playing on an empty or poorly balanced snack could result in loss of focus, decreased power, and shaky finesse. All of these are bad things for a golfer.


Having a pre course snack is extremely vital. I place an emphasis on this because if you are going onto the course hungry or thirsty, you’re already in trouble. Not having a small balanced meal of lean proteins, carbs and some healthy fats can really set back your performance.

Here are some great examples of some pre golf meals:
  • 1 cup of pasta with grilled chicken and olive oil pesto
  • Whole grain turkey sandwich with avocado slices tomato and cheese
  • Almond butter and natural strawberry preserves on wholegrain bread and 8 oz of milk
  • [divider] Preparing snacks to bring with you on the course can also keep you feeling fresh and focused. I would suggest having a few small bites of what ever you pack after each hole before you tee off. It’s important to keep a steady flow of carbs and even protein and fat if possible.

    Here are a few examples of snacks while you play:

  • Any fruit: apple slices, bananas, grapes, orange slices, etc
  • Trail mix
  • Beef jerky and sports drink
  • Protein bars are good as long as they don’t have high fructose corn syrup!

  • The best time to refuel is immediately after you get off the course. Although you have been snacking on the course, its important to have a spike of nutrients to get your body in full recovery mode. Although some would argue that the game isn’t that strenuous on the body, I would argue differently. Although golfers never do any specific intense movement repetitiously (think sprinting) they do accumulate an enormous amount of intense swings over the course of the hours they spend on the course and warming up. Either way, this repetitious movement causes damage to the body that needs to be repaired. If left un-repaired through poor nutrition, it can lead to over use injuries, which many golfers fall victim to.

    Here are some examples of post golf snacks:

  • 16 oz milk or chocolate milk (use non chocolate milk if you are looking for weight control)
  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Bowl of cereal
  • 2 hard boiled eggs with fruit, juice, or veggie slices
  • Cheese slices on crackers
  • Lean deli meat sandwich.

  • With a little preparation and dedication you will notice a huge difference in your game if you decide to try the strategies I have provided. Don’t forget that every meal you have should be considered a recovery meal so don’t ever decide to skip a meal or skimp on your protein! The difference will be visible.

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