I’ve spent many years working with golfers and they are a pretty easy crowd to describe. Let’s see if you fit into this description: You’re obsessed with the game. You spend countless hours on the range, in the sand and on the putting green practicing. You get coaching to help improve your swing. You’ve spent a lot of money on a new driver or putter. Or both.
Like many golfers you likely see the value of investing time, effort and money on your game. You may, however, forget to work on the single most important tool you have at your disposal on the course: Your body. Your body swings the club. Your nervous system controls the muscles. Your eyes collect information about the course – distance, wind, angles, and more. Your brain processes the information and helps you execute that perfect shot. Or maybe not…
When you make mistakes on the course your first thought might be “what was wrong with my swing?” In fact the cause might be even more basic. What if the poor shot was caused by the fact that your body didn’t have the basic fuel or nutrients that it needed to perform? One single nutrient is the most important factor in helping your body think and move. Carbs? Protein? Nope… Keep going… What’s the nutrient for your muscles and brain? That’s right! Water! There is not a single cell in your body that doesn’t rely on water. Water helps transport the carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that the cells in your muscles and brain need to make energy. When your body works at its best it does so because water helped deliver energy and nutrients to your cells and also helped all the energy creating processes inside the cells work most efficiently. Remember that great quote, “Golf is 90% mental and the rest is in your head.” Make sure that you remember to fuel your brain. Your brain needs water. While 60 percent of your body weight is made up of water, incredibly it makes up almost 90 percent of the brain. Water lubricates and cushions the brain. It also helps you think, concentrate, problem solve and remember – which just happen to be all the tasks you need to do when you’re on the golf course. Always take a water bottle with you when you play or practice and sip at regular intervals while you’re playing. Doing so will ensure that you stay hydrated and will help keep your brain on track for all 18 holes.
We’ve taken care of the mental side but what about the rest of your body? While the brain has the highest concentration of water in the body, your muscles are comprised of nearly 75 percent water. Remember the Krebs Cycle from grade 10 biology class? Well, perhaps that time of your life is a little foggy. All you need to know from that class is that the Krebs Cycle is the series of steps that take place in your muscle cells to create energy. No water? No energy. Do you often suffer from fatigue on the last few holes? For many people the late-round crash is caused by a combination of dehydration and poor nutrition. So do yourself and your game a favour; support your muscles and create more energy by drinking water. If you do one thing to improve your on-course performance this season, make drinking water part of your golf routine. It’s a small change that can make a big difference to the scores of every golfer, from high-handicappers to the pros on tour. You’ll stay hydrated, feel more energetic and play better, and it’s more affordable than new gadgets!
Dr. Greg Wells is an Assistant Professor in Kinesiology at the University of Toronto and the sport scientist for the United States Junior National Golf Team.