Food for play
I hope it does not feel like you are being driven into golf overload to now be reading about what to ‘eat’ on the golf course. In a world that is becoming increasingly health conscious, (my apologies if you don’t want to hear this) nutrition is an important factor on the golf course. Bringing to this conversation a 20 year background in competitive swimming and running and more significantly, a 25 year passion for organic gardening, food and nutrition, I cannot deny that I have given this question a lot of contemplation. As a result, I can positively attest that what one eats on the course can affect the outcome of one’s golf game. I am sorry to say, but, grabbing a “smoky” and a beer on the ‘turn’ is likely not going to help your game and is probably costing you a few or more stokes per round. It is not just the alcohol that is the culprit for the loss of focus on the back 9, but the spike in blood sugars from unhealthy food choices provided by the outdated fast food options offered by many golf facilities. A bag of chips, an overly sweet granola bar and a Gatorade are not the answer either. I have seen and heard it so many times; “I lost my focus for a few holes after lunch and the wheels fell off…”
So what does good nutrition look like on the golf course?
- Choose healthy whole food options for snacks. As a rule of thumb these are often unprocessed ‘one ingredient’ foods such as carrot and celery sticks, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, fresh fruits, whole grain breads and crackers, cheese, low sugar yoghurt etc.
- Choose low glycemic index foods to ensure no big rush or no sleepy ‘after effect’. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose (sugar) levels compared to a standard food. You want to avoid a spike in energy as well as a dip or crash. Both will affect your mental focus as well as your physical strength and energy levels. This also means avoid becoming too hungry while playing your round. Depending on your metabolism, you will likely need to eat something after a few hours on the course.
- Have smaller portions at a time and stagger these throughout your game. For example, have half a sandwich on pumpernickel or a dark unleavened bread filled with proteins and vegetables. Whether you are raw, vegan, vegetarian or eat a meat lover, it is the quality of the protein that matters. Choose roasted, boiled, barbecued meats, poultries and fish over salty and processed cold cuts and salamis (these are filled with fats and sulphates). My favorite option is to barbecue a few extra chicken breasts and veggies at dinner and then put them away for sandwich and salad fixings the next day. If you are vegan or vegetarian, choose healthy spreads like hummus, babaganoush, nut loaf and seed pâtés and be careful to look at the labels to ensure that they are not processed with the wrong oils, salts, seasonings, sugars and preservatives. There are big differences out there in the quality of these products. ‘Making it yourself’ is often the easiest and most reliable method. A good hummus, for example, only needs a few ingredients. Chickpeas, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, tahini, a dash of cumin and a spring of parsley. Salt to taste and blend it up. Don’t forget sushi rolls, summer rolls and wraps. These are easy to make and easy to slip into your golf bag.
- Make sure your food is relatively quiet and easy to access in terms of packaging. Trying to pry open a noisy wrapper can be annoying to both you and the person trying to hit their ball.
- Try foods that can be sipped from a bottle or thermos. Soups, yoghurts, and smoothies are excellent. There are some golf courses in the Pacific Northwest that offer a soup of the day on the ‘turn’ (packaged in a cardboard bowl or coffee cup with a lid) during the cooler fall and spring seasons. I love being surprised by a great soup on a golf course on a chilly fall day.
- Stay hydrated. Bring a large water bottle so you can monitor how much or how little you are drinking. Never rely on getting enough water on the course from those little white disposable cups. Moreover, they’re are not ecological.
Anyhow, these are personal ideas for how to eat to play good golf. I hope you have enjoyed the article and will contact me with further ideas and contributions to the subject.