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Let Golf battle commence – It’s Ryder Cup time

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The Ryder Cup 2018

It was a fantastic weekend of golf and unbelievable to see team Europe overcome the odds and beat the USA. Whether you are a golf enthusiast or not, the Ryder Cup has an air of magic around it. With its various formats, unbelievable scenery and unlike no other for pulling in a fully committed passionate crowd. They say that much of golf comes down to psychology; staying focused, maintain concentration and the European players seem to have a knack of pulling together when it really matters.

Nutrition in Golf

Yes, you read that right. Despite the variety of shapes and sizes that play golf, nutrition is and should be an important factor. If you look through the 24 players picked to compete in this year’s Ryder Cup, you will see that the players have become more athletic, fitter, stronger, more powerful, than ever before. Especially if you compare this world’s best against the average golfer. Of course, there’s untold talent and mental focus in abundance, but nutrition and sport science definitely play their part.

Average Joe to Pro – The PGA tour players average 295.3 yards off the tee, whereas club golfers drive the ball an average of 210 yards.

Nutrition can improve Golf

As with all sports, there’s not just one part of your game that will determine success. It’s the combination of mental strength, skill, strength, accuracy, concentration, focus and on top of that you have to be better than your other competitors. As you would imagine nutritional studies in golf are fairly limited, but there are some interesting results to share:

Drive for show

A study by Ziegenfuss et al., in 2015 showed that consuming a dietary supplement of creatine monohydrate, coffea arabica, calcium and vitamin D, for 30 days, improved player best drive distance by 5% and average drive distance by 8%. Now this is only one study and hence why this mixture hasn’t hit the high street shops, but to pick out creatine from this mixture and apply the understanding that creatine can increase performance of repeated bout of high intensity exercise – meaning the potential to increase strength and power. It seems fair to assume that if you already have the skill to swing a driver and now you can swing the club with more force – the ball will go further. I would also like to add that although you can increase the potential to hit a longer drive, it’s no guarantee that you will.

Putts for Dough

A study by Stevenson et al., in 2009 showed that the consumption of a carbohydrate and caffeine drink during a round of golf. Drinks were consumed pre-round and at hole 6 & 12 (approximately 400ml, 26g carbs and 64mg caffeine, at each occasion). Thanks to supplementation, experienced golfers reported heightened feelings of alertness and putting performance improved, both 2m and 5m putts. The authors of the study conclude that the consumption of caffeinated infused carbohydrate drink stemmed the decline of alertness and concentration. We could also speculate that hydrating and added carbohydrate, previously proven to support prolonged endurance performance, is also having a positive effect on golf. Taking these results away from golf, you could assume that a carbohydrate-based caffeine drink, could help you stay on your game and give you a pick me up, when you need one. For example, after work when you’ve got a gym session planned but the demon on your shoulder is telling you to head straight home.

Leave it to the professionals

Golf is definitely one of those sports where skill acquisition is the key to success, but adding the finer points of nutrition, could make the difference. Let’s see. Keep an eye out for any nutrition breaks by the players this weekend. It could be the difference from the Americans retaining the Ryder cup or the Europeans causing the shock upset and giving the US team a vacation to forget. We hope that you enjoyed the Ryder Cup just as much as we did! For more on how hydration can help performance, check out hydration in sport and fitness hydration in sport and fitness.

Author: Gareth Nicholas, Performance Nutritionist 
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