“Looking for a better Performance”, Work on Sleep, Hydration & Nutrition

In reality an early morning tee time can catch us out no matter how organised we think we are.  I am especially lucky having a husband who drops kids to school to allow me to tee off early.   Which also allows me to finish with time for lunch and a chat in the clubhouse before heading off to school pickup.

In a perfect world school lunches and school bags should be organised the night before “Yeah Right” !!  So before I leave the house there’s a lot of running around which has in the past resulted in a skipped breakfast.

I struggled big time, I would get through the first 6 holes but after that I felt shocking, searching through my bag looking for anything of substance.  I remember finding a little box of almonds, my mouth was so dry that I could barely chew or swallow !!! Haha

It was time to make some changes …

I needed a nutritional plan and a hydration plan to avoid similar problems.

Golf is a unique sport in that we are playing for 4-5 hours which is a long time to be burning calories and using our brain.  It’s not like most other sports where you play intensively for an hour or so and react to what’s going on.

When I try to relate golf to any other sport that I have competed in for more than 4 hours at a time I can relate to triathlon.  I joined a triathlon club in my mid 20’s and we would train together, travel to destinations around Melbourne & country Victoria competing together.  Most of our races were between 45 mins to 1 hour but we also competed in longer distance totalling a 2-4 hour time frame.  Before every race we would prepare the week before which included hydration, nutrition and sleep.

It’s the same with a round of golf.  Many of us play for fun and social enjoyment but atthe same time we are usually trying our hardest to have the very best score we can muster.  To get a pure result every time we should head out on the course totally prepared.  It’s not just a matter of making your tee time and your pre shot routine, we must be prepared mentally and physically.

A round of 18 holes demands you to switch your focus on and off for (on average) 86 times per round and then perform a precise physical action which depends on how well you’ve prepared for it.  To choose the right shot, align correctly, pick the right club, read the greens etc. and then make a smooth swing, it requires mental sharpness and physical energy that you won’t have if you haven’t fueled your body properly.



Poor sleep affects growth hormone production and hence recovery from both physical and mental stress.  You need a good quality sleep to think properly and access those mental skills you need for great performance.  Here are a few tips to getting that great sleep before a big round:

Avoid alcohol: Although you get off to sleep quicker, it’s proven that you don’t reach the deeper levels of sleep to fully rest your brain and be sharp the following day.

Avoid drinking anything within 2 hours of going to bed: This way you avoid being woken up earlier than you need to go to the bathroom.

Avoid eating within 2 hours of going to bed: The increase in blood sugar inhibits sleep.

Research tells me “Getting enough sleep is crucial for athletic performance,” says David Geier, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, SC. Studies show that good sleep can improve speed, accuracy, and reaction time in athletes.

How Much Sleep Do Athletes Need?

Most people need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.  If you’re an athlete in training, you may need more.

“Just as athletes need more calories than most people when they’re in training, they need more sleep, too,” Geier says. You’re pushing your body in practice, so you need more time to recover.

Athletes in training should sleep about an hour extra. You can go to sleep earlier, or take an afternoon nap, says Jim Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Searching for research that we can all relate to I came across an interesting article from the American Association of Sleep Technologies.  Brendan has worked in sleep technology for the past 18 years and has been a regular member of the AAST for the past 16 years.  While interested in all facets of sleep medicine, Brendan has a special interest in sleep medicine  in connection with sports medicine and has written several articles as well as given presentations about how sleep  impacts athletic performance, training, and recovery.


Sleep and Golf: Secrets to golfing better

By: Brendan Duffy on May 23rd, 2016

So do you want to improve your golf game?   Of course you do. Well maybe you need to review what you are doing away from the golf course that may have a great impact on how you play your game.

If a golfer does not get sufficient sleep, or if they do not get restorative sleep due to a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, it is almost certainly going to have a negative impact on their game due to fatigue affecting our ability to focus, concentrate and co-ordinate.

Sleep is an important element of any athlete’s training regimen and just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to athletic excellence. Without proper rest, your entire physical and mental systems are stressed  and your judgment is also impaired. Another problem associated with sufficient rest is that  muscle memory cannot be consolidated , the golf lesson that you have taken (and paid dearly for!) earlier that day can be wasted. So you arrive back on the course the following day without recall of information or technique from recent instruction.

The muscle memory was never cemented due to waking up too early and losing that crucial last few hours of sleep when a lot of this memory consolidation happens. Enjoying a few adult beverages at dinner will impact your sleep, causing dehydration, fragmented sleep, and the interruptions to getting up and using the bathroom during the night. This definitely will not result in a good outing the following day.

Some of the signs to look for that indicate you should get some help with a possible sleep disorder include daytime sleepiness, snoring, gasping in sleep, morning headaches, dry mouth, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it may be a sign of sleep apnea-and treating this may just improve your golf game as a bonus! That is exactly what happened in a small study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in December 2013. In that study, 12 golfers were treated for sleep apnea and the scores of those golfers were compared with 12 similarly skilled men in a control group. The control group did not have sleep apnea and made no changes to their sleep habits.

When retested up to 6 months later, the control group showed no changes in their handicap scores, but the golfers that were treated for sleep apnea saw their handicap improve by an average of over 11%! The more skilled golfers (handicap of 12 or less) in the “apnea treated golfer” group actually improved their handicap by 31% once treated for their sleep disorders. This is the kind of marked improvement that is possible when you are truly getting sufficient rest. It seems apparent that the golfers that were treated for sleep apnea already possessed the skill set that was needed, but were playing golf with an additional golf handicap that they were not aware of – poor sleep! The apnea treatment golfers also self reported that they had improved concentration and decision making abilities after being treated. It is fairly simple to understand how their game could improve when they were finally able to reach a never before level of concentration and focus. This type of marked improvement has been seen in other studies just from treating sleep deprivation in athletes involved in different sports! If you snore and wake up fatigued – go to your G.P and get referred to a sleep clinic.

The results cited in this golf study are similar to results that have been seen in several other studies performed elsewhere in colleges such as Stanford University where both the basketball teams as well as the football and swim teams were studied. As a matter of fact, some of the swimmers reached “personal best” records in the pool simply by increasing their sleep time for many weeks. The Stanford basketball team improved both free throw and 3 point percentage shooting by over 9% in their studies in which they increased their sleep time. The team also mentioned increased focus and concentration during practices. Focus and concentration are obviously important elements of a successful golf game.




Drinking water keeps your mind and body working properly and it’s critical for optimal brain function and limb co-ordination. You shouldn’t go a round of golf without having a drink of water.  If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, which limits your ability to concentrate and lowers your performance on the course.  Being dehydrated by just 2-3% results in 10% lower performance which in an average round of golf, could be as high as 8 shots! The Tour pros take hydration very seriously and so should you, as it could make the difference between your best score and an average round.

Drink 2 glasses of water with your pre-round meal and another glass 10 to 20 minutes before your round.  Fill a water bottle and carry it in your golf bag.

When it is hot make sipping water on every tee a habit (you’ll need to drink around a glass every 30 minutes if  it’s very hot) as you’ll lose more and more electrolytes through sweat as the round progresses.  Electrolytes is another term for the salts and minerals  that transmit electrical impulses across the cells in your body so that your muscles (and brain) work properly.  When you sweat, you lose these electrolytes, so to maintain peak muscle and brain function, you need to replace them by drinking water and/or electrolyte solutions. Optional : (Use Hydrolyte tablets dissolved in your water bottle) Friends and I use these in our drink bottles everytime we play now, even in the winter months.



Eat your pre-round meal about 2-3 hours before you play and eat a snack an hour before you head to the first tee. Studies show that a meal containing 200 -300g of carbohydrates 2-3 hours before playing increase athletic performance.  If you have an early morning round, be sure to have a healthy breakfast at least an hour before playing.  A bit of toast in the car just doesn’t cut it.  (this used to be me !!)

The quality of the carbohydrate is important.  Poor quality (starchy) carbohydrates like white bread, pancakes, juices and sugary cereals, (e.g includes some muesli’s) give you a surge of energy and raise insulin levels,  your blood sugar will drop and eventually you will metabolically crash and become lethargic lose focus and make poor decisions.  You want to focus on those carbs you get from fruit and vegetables and if you eat bread or pasta make sure they’re whole wheat.  You don’t need much fat or fiber but include a moderate amount of protein.  Eat just enough to be neither hungry nor full.  My daughter and I source many recipes and I’ve included some online sites below, check it out and have fun researching new smart healthy recipes:-

https://deliciouslyella.com/category/recipes/  (Paleo options)




https://www.huntingforgeorge.com/porridge-cookbook-by-anni-kravi-hardie-grant-books (you would need to purchase this one but the recipes for porridge are insane $25) xx you can thank me later…

My internet searches show that many serious golfers have started using a system of products that are organic, whole food and packed with nutrients and highly bio-available protein but also low-calorie.  Not only do these systems balance out blood sugar allowing them to maintain a consistent mental focus but they also help to generally improve health leading to excess fat loss and lean muscle development.

A study has found that we burn 2000-2500 calories in a game of golf. ( about 1.2 kg of body weight ) Imagine not eating before or after!

Out on the course you have to start eating before the 7th hole to give digestion time to occur.

According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (May 2008), researchers at the University of Sydney discovered that a single serving of refined carbohydrates given to a lean, healthy young adult is enough to triple their inflammatory response to the surge in blood glucose.  This finding reinforces the notion that high glycemic/refined carbohydrates (such as table sugar, white bread, etc.) have virtually no nutritional value.

Avoid sugary snack bars disguised as nutritional health bars, avoid chocolate bars  & lollie’s (such as “natural” snakes) avoid sugar sports drinks (there is not one that is better than water).  Post golf avoid the heart attack of fatty dim sims, fried chips & burgers and sugary soft drinks  eg; Don’t put bad fuel into your car!!

It’s time to change what you eat and drink before and during your rounds. Remember the total time from leaving the house to returning home could exceed 6 hours.


  1. Such a great article. I have always believed that nutrition and hydration made a difference to my golf and now I know why!!


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