You Par What You Eat

Eat right, Play Well

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Dinner the night before
Beverage cart girls can be irresistible. They flirt, offer up snacks and cold drinks, and then let you get on with the round. Fun, yes. Healthy, no. While most golfers don’t count calories on the course—you’re burning off about 2,250 of them over 18 holes, so why worry?—there’s a real danger of losing energy and hydration out there, adversely affecting your score. What to do?

Light Breakfast for an early start
“Nutrition is key to your success on the course,” says Cate Munroe, nutritionist and kitchen coach based in Phoenix. “Eating the right foods can provide you with the consistent energy, improved concentration and increased stamina you need to shoot lower scores and maximize your physical and mental performance. Proper nutrition can give you the strength to hit it farther off the tee and the focus to drain putts.”


Hearty Breakfast for a later start
It all starts before your round—even the night before—when eating the wrong food “may not show on the front nine, but will definitely prevail as you make the turn,” warns Munroe. “Be sure to get nutrients you need to give you consistent energy for a consistent round. Focus on eating natural, whole foods. The less processed, the better. Avoid foods high in sugar. Fat is especially important before your round because it’s going to help sustain your energy throughout the day and keep you full longer.” Since your blood-glucose level can deplete plenty overnight, which will tire you out quickly on the course, eat high-quality carbs with proteins at dinner the night before, such as pasta with meat sauce, chicken, or long-grain rice with stir-fry vegetables.

Lunch to keep you going
On game day, if you’re playing early, opt to eat a light breakfast—bananas, nuts, whole-wheat bagel with light cream cheese, yogurt, fruit or cereal with skim milk—before jetting off to the course. If you’re playing mid- or late morning, then “get up early and eat a big breakfast—bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits,” advises Adam Smith, PGA professional at Salisbury Country Club in Midlothian, Va., who teaches golf fitness in the off-season. “You have to fuel up.” Eggs, egg whites, low-fat cream cheese and yogurt exemplify good fats and proteins, which will minimize your hunger during the round while increasing your metabolism. According to nutrition experts, if you’re playing in the afternoon, eat a meal three hours before your tee time, and a small high-carbohydrate snack an hour before you play, for energy. A guideline: 30-35 grams of carbs for every hour you’ll be on the course. For lunch, try eating whole-wheat pasta with tomato and meat sauce; a chicken sandwich with soup; or an omelet with toast.

Healthy Snacks

Something Filling at the turn
It’s also important to snack frequently on the course. “Have a granola bar, apple or banana,” says Smith. “If you’re walking, keep snacks in your bag. Even if you’re riding in a cart, you need fuel intake. Beverage carts don’t usually have the healthiest snacks.” So pack nuts, peanut butter on whole-wheat bread, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, beef jerky, or even frozen berries that’ll defrost during the round. And at the turn, if you’re looking for something filling, grab a burger or chicken sandwich on whole-wheat bread or in a tortilla. Because you’ll be on the course for roughly five hours, you ideally want to walk off the 18th green with as much energy as you had on the first tee.


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