August 20th, 2019
It’s mid-season, the rust is shaken off from the spring, you’re on the 10th hole, and just shot the best front-9 you can remember. All of a sudden everything starts to fall apart. One second you’re dialed in and the next you’re shots are pulling up short, your swing isn’t as smooth as it was an hour ago, and your round is in a tail spin.
This is when most golfers start telling themselves excuses like “I shouldn’t have added up my score before the round was over” or “the greens are a lot slower on the back nine” or “the wind really picked up”. While some of those may be true (especially adding your score up after 9, what were you thinking?), it’s most likely a more simple reason: you’re dehydrated.
Mild dehydration effects up to 75% of golfers at some point, and perhaps a little more often than it should.
Symptoms of dehydration includes fatigue, weakness, and muscle stiffness. Either one of these can be a game killer. However, the symptom that sneaks up on most golfers is the impairment of their cognitive performance. This study performed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association proves that mild dehydration has drastic impact on a golfer’s accuracy, distance, and distance judgement.
Unfortunately for many people, cognitive impairment is typically the first symptom to strike, and it can happen without you even feeling dehydrated. Just because you’re not thirsty and tired doesn’t mean you aren’t beginning to show signs of dehydration. Four and a half hours in the hot sun is a long time, and you lose a lot of fluids over the duration of a round. If you notice your ability to manage the course properly slipping, and can’t quite put the ball where you usually can, there’s a good chance you’re becoming dehydrated.
This is especially important for golfers over the age of 50. As we get older, our triggers for thirst become less sensitive. As a result, many people over 50 wait until they feel thirsty until they drink fluids, when in reality they are most likely already mildly dehydrated.
The great news is this will be the easiest fix to your round. Pack some water, drink a Gatorade, whatever it takes to stay hydrated. Take a drink before you tee off at each hole. Don’t wait for signs of thirst before you hydrate. Prevention is the game, and not even tallying your score before the end of your round will sabotage your score (but seriously, don’t do that either).