Ben Hogan, Mickey Wright, Sam Snead, Patty Berg, Kathy Whitworth, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Dame Laura Davies, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Annika Sorenstam, Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie, Rory McIlroy, Se Ri Pak, Bryson DeChambeau…Over the years there have been many, many golfers who have changed the face of the game and, among other great achievements, have led to the adoption of various practices being employed as strategies for improved performance.
As sports science research and applied practice has developed, so too has the engagement of golfers seeking to gain advantages out on the course and indeed, some of the names above have contributed to professionals of the sport not only being viewed as golfers, but as athletes too. We have previously presented advice on where athletes of the game should be looking to monitor and optimize the moderators of internal load; these link directly to some of the areas we discuss here.
In this blog we present five areas that can help to optimize you, the golfer and ultimately, the athlete.
Check out the advice, research, and information about each area on this infographic and then read on for more valuable insights:
Warming-up for golf: The unmistakable Miguel Ángel Jiménez warm-up certainly turns heads, and as sports science research has developed, golfers are more aware of the benefits of a warm-up strategy. This becomes apparent when you look at examples from the European Tour where golfers are using resistance, dynamic stretching and other modalities before playing to enhance performance.
Coaches are also increasingly advocating the use of effective warm-ups on the range with amateurs and professionals alike. Furthermore, national performance development pathways also have high expectations of warm-up routines from their junior golfers in the knowledge that it’s possible to produce increase clubhead speed, ball speed and drive distance as a result.
Strength and conditioning: While there were individuals before him, Tiger certainly progressed the idea of using strength and conditioning to enhance performance out on the course. Nowadays, those who aren’t engaging in S&C are in the minority in the professional game. This is perhaps yet to be the case in the amateur game, but there’s certainly a drive to get in the gym and increase strength and speed. You only have to look on social media to see the number of trainers offering golfers programmes and advice on exercises to know there’s an appetite for more.
Nutrition and hydration: These are two areas where very little research has been done to date focusing on the sport of golf. However, they both hold importance for performance and recovery, adaptations to training, and health, which are all relevant to the modern golfer seeking an optimized competitive advantage (Close, Pugh, & Morton, 2018).
Alongside physical preparation, nutrition and hydration research from other sports provide many transferable strategies to inform golfers’ fuelling and recovery. This is possible because, after all, we are dealing with humans. This doesn’t change from one sport to the next, but the application of strategies and principles may vary. As an example, golfers who also train regularly should be advised to consume 4-5 g/kg of body mass of carbohydrate per day (Burke, Hawley, Wong, & Jeukendrup, 2011), however this can be manipulated further to meet individual energy balance and weight management goals.
Blood glucose has been found to significantly decline during rounds of golf, which could result in poor decision making, focus and impair the motor performance if the decline is severe enough (Broman et al., 2004; Welsh, Davis, Burke, & Williams, 2002). Eating carbohydrates may offset this decline. Other research (Hayes et al., 2009) found significant reductions in blood glucose concentration during the front nine of a golf round, but no further reductions after consumption of a standardised carbohydrate snack halfway through the round.
With regards hydration, it is well established that sweating rate and sweat electrolyte concentrations can vary widely within and among individuals (Barnes et al., 2019), therefore during-exercise fluid recommendations should be based on individual sweat losses for the specific conditions. While this may sound vague, what it does point to is that tried and tested strategies are key for each individual and advice from sports nutritionists is important to optimize an untapped area in your game.
While we appreciate this may take a little more effort to plan your meals, snacks and fluid intake, it is possible to create a straightforward, beneficial plan with the right advice for the conditions or environment you are training or playing in.
Sleep: This may be of particular interest for golfers as inadequate sleep has be shown to have negative effects on recovery and on both physical (e.g., accuracy and submaximal strength; Fullagar et al., 2015) and neurocognitive performance (e.g., attention, learning, and executive function; Killgore, 2010), with golfers utilising a combination of these attributes to practice, train and compete.
Golfers, like other athletes, face unique hurdles in the pursuit of optimal sleep; practice, S&C, and competition schedules, travel, and competition anxiety may all affect sleep quality and / or quantity (Lastella, Lovell, & Sargent, 2014; Sargent et al., 2014). Despite the need for further research to understand the impact of poor sleep on golf-specific outcome measures, golfers should seek out strategies and adopt chronic behaviours that avoid the potential negative effects of inadequate sleep. As we have previously discussed, there are several ways to optimize your sleep to boost performance in both the gym and on the course.
Where do you start? Well, in the first instance, go back and check out the infographic again for tips and initial strategies. Having an understanding of each area is useful to allow you to monitor and adapt strategies where and when required. Speaking to your coach can open discussions about various aspect that impact on performance. They may be able to provide simple solutions to begin with (e.g., establishing an effective warm-up routine), or help you to build a team of experts around you to help optimize you (i.e., your daily wellness, health, and wellbeing) and your performance.
For further information on why it’s important to monitor your workloads
check out this blog and our infographic.
Visit your app store to download AMI Sports: Golf and start monitoring today.
Available on iOS now, coming soon to Android!
Get in touch with any of the authors to find out about the support they can offer
(face-to-face and online sports science and strength and conditioning support is available).
Barnes, K. A., Anderson, M. L., Stofan, J. R., Dalrymple, K. J., Reimel, A. J., Roberts, T. J., … Baker, L. B. (2019). Normative data for sweating rate, sweat sodium concentration, and sweat sodium loss in athletes: An update and analysis by sport. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(20), 2356–2366. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2019.1633159
Broman, G., Johnsson, L., & Kaijser, L. (2004). Golf: A high intensity interval activity for elderly men. Aging – Clinical and Experimental Research, 16(5), 375–381.
Burke, L. M., Hawley, J. A., Wong, S. H. S., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2011). Carbohydrates for training and competition. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(SUPPL. 1). https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2011.585473
Close, G. L., Pugh, J., & Morton, J. P. (2018). Nutrition for golf. In M. Toms (Ed.), Routledge International Handbook of Golf Science (pp. 357–368). Oxon: Routledge.
Fullagar, H. H. K., Skorski, S., Duffield, R., Hammes, D., Coutts, A. J., & Meyer, T. (2015). Sleep and Athletic Performance: The Effects of Sleep Loss on Exercise Performance, and Physiological and Cognitive Responses to Exercise. Sports Medicine, 45(2), 161–186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0260-0
Hayes, P. R., Van Paridon, K., French, D. N., Thomas, K., & Gordon, D. A. (2009). Development of a simulated round of golf. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 4(4), 506–516. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.4.4.506
Killgore, W. D. S. (2010). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. Progress in Brain Research, 185, 105–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-53702-7.00007-5
Lastella, M., Lovell, G. P., & Sargent, C. (2014). Athletes’ precompetitive sleep behaviour and its relationship with subsequent precompetitive mood and performance. European Journal of Sport Science, 14(S1), 123–130. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2012.660505
Sargent, C., Lastella, M., Halson, S. L., & Roach, G. D. (2014). The impact of training schedules on the sleep and fatigue of elite athletes. Chronobiology International, 31(10), 1160–1168. https://doi.org/10.3109/07420528.2014.957306
Welsh, R. S., Davis, J. M., Burke, J. R., & Williams, H. G. (2002). Carbohydrates and physical/mental performance during intermittent exercise to fatigue. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34(4), 723–731. https://doi.org/10.1249/00005768-200204000-00025
Dr Ben Langdown is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching at The Open University and has published various journal papers in the area of golf and sports science. Specifically, Ben's research focuses on athlete monitoring, warm-up protocols, and training interventions in the sport of golf. Ben is also a Strength and Conditioning Coach for England Golf and over the past 15 years has provided biomechanics and S&C support to golfers from amateurs through to European (Men’s and Ladies’) Tours and a European Senior Tour Season Champion. Ben has presented at 4 World Golf Fitness Summits and the 2018 World Scientific Congress of Golf, where he also acted as an invited review panel member supporting education for >150 academics/coaches. He has delivered various invited keynote workshops with international organisations, including England Golf, The PGAs of GB&I, Spain, Czech Republic and Slovakia with all adopting his applied approaches. Most recently, Ben has developed the AMI Sports: Golf athlete monitoring app allowing further insight into golfers’ practice, tournaments, training and daily wellbeing.
Tim Roberts is the Director of Science + Innovation at Therabody and the Co-Founder of Scientific Athlete. At Therabody, Tim specializes in the development and execution of effective science and innovation strategies that translate to improved business functions. Prior to this role, Tim was Senior Sports Scientist with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and was based at their laboratory at IMG Academy (2011-2020). He continues to work with golfers at every level in both lab and field settings, whilst collaborating with several international golf organisations. Furthermore, Tim works with professional golfers providing sports science, nutrition, and strength and conditioning support.
Tim has presented two invited presentations at World Golf Fitness Summits and at the inaugural Golf and Health Symposium in 2018. These presentations covered the application of research into nutrition and hydration, sport science methodology and athlete monitoring in golf
In addition to this work in golf he has led the development and execution of both research and applied strategies for athlete monitoring in several other sports including with the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, and elite basketball, soccer, and baseball organisations.
Dr. Alex Ehlert is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at North Carolina Wesleyan College. He is a former competitive golfer that competed at the NCAA Division I level. During his time as a competitive golfer, Alex recognized the gap between the available sport science information and how it was being applied in practice by golfers and golf coaches. This spurred his interest in 1) conducting research on sport science for golf and 2) disseminating quality information to golfers and golf coaches. He has published several research articles related to the associations between various physical characteristics and golf clubhead speed and the effects of warm-ups and strength & conditioning programs on golf performance. These are areas that Alex will continue to study moving forward. Alex has also conducted research within other areas of exercise and sport science. Some notable topics include fitness testing for soccer/football goalkeepers, the role of psychological factors on gastrointestinal symptoms in endurance athletes, and the effects of caffeine mouth rinsing on exercise performance. In addition to future research with golf, Alex will soon be conducting research on field-based methods for testing and monitoring the physical characteristics of team sport athletes. Beyond research, Alex has practical experience working with competitive golfers, team sport athletes, and clinical populations as a sport scientist and exercise physiologist. He intends to continue providing sport science support to golfers and other athletes for the foreseeable future, in addition to his role as an assistant professor.