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On & Off the Course

April 29, 2006

On and Off the Course: Golfers need to know how food affects them

TERRE HAUTE — How many times have you played a pretty decent front nine, took a break for a snack at the half way house, and found that when you resumed play you weren’t the same golfer that was on the course fifteen minutes before? Or maybe you only took the time to get a soda at the turn, and four holes later you’re flailing away like you’ve never had a golf club in your hand.

Maybe you haven’t noticed that extreme of a difference, but you might notice that the two nines differed in score. You could write it off to one nine being tougher than the other, or maybe you caught up to a slow foursome and had to wait on every shot, but it’s quite possible that the reason had to do with something you ate at the turn.

Golf has many extraneous forces that we have no control over: the layout of the course, the wind, the weather, the foursome ahead, or maybe a playing partner. We should at least pay attention to a part of the game that we can control, nutrition.

The problem is that most people, other than knowing what tastes good to them, don’t know what foods are good for them. Golfers need to know how food affects them because they are on the course often for four hours or more. A body needs nutrition and hydration in order to have energy and concentration for that length of time. For golfers, this specifically means carbohydrates and proteins.

Many people have tried a low-carb diet, which is high in fats and proteins. This is not the right diet if you’re a golfer (or any other kind of athlete, for that matter). Carbohydrates are the main fuels used in golf, and the luckily the ones that make up a base of the healthy food pyramid that you’ve always heard about. Being the base, that means you need the most of these foods. Carbohydrates are easily converted to energy, and they increase endurance and decrease fatigue. They’re also needed for your brain to function well. It’s hard enough to concentrate for eighteen holes of golf, make sure your brain has the nutrients it needs to function.

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