Hydration Improves Golf Performance in Golfers Over 50

Golf and dehydrationHydration And Golf Performance

Did you know that being dehydrated on the golf course will cause poor consistency, poor decision making and golf strategy, and increase your risk of golf related injuries?

Hydration for golfers is a serious issue, especially in a summer like this one. Symptoms can range from minimal to severe and are not restricted to amateurs.

A recent study found that as much as 75% of golfers are dehydrated on the golf course.

A few months ago at the US Senior open, Peter Jacobsen was forced to withdraw from the tournament after only 9 holes due to severe dehydration.

““I will never put myself in that position again,” said Jacobsen, reflecting on the episode. “It was really scary, and I think there is a lesson here for all golfers: Every one of us needs to be conscious of drinking lots of water. There are no special exemptions.”

Symptoms of dehydration on the golf course include:

  • Increased muscle stiffness, decreased golf flexibility
  • Being Thirsty
  • Dry Mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Poor Concentration
  • Feeling Sluggish

Dehydration More of a Risk in Golfers Over 50
Beginning at the age of 20, our bodies begin to reduce the ability to hold as much water in reserve. This lose can be as high as 15%. With less water in reserve, we are much more likely to be dehydrated if we are not actively drinking water.

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In addition, as we get older our bodies natural alert system of dehydration, thirst, becomes less sensitive. Meaning that we are more likely to be dehydrated without even feeling thirsty! As a result, if you are waiting to drink water until you feel thirsty, you are probably already moderately dehydrated. Plus, the kidneys become less able to retain water when we are dehydrated, causing greater dehydration.

How Do You Know if You are Optimally Hydrated

The easiest method to determine if you are hydrated, is by the color of your urine. If properly hydrated, your urine should be a pale yellow to clear color. Dark urine is a sign of dehydration. The caveat to this is that coffee, some foods, and some medications and vitamins will cause dark urine.

A good method to determine if you are drinking enough water on the golf course is to weigh yourself before and after you play golf. If you lose weight during a round, it is most likely water weight and you need to drink more. (Of course, you probably have to also discount the weight in quarters that you lost to your buddies in skins lost (;

How to Stay Hydrated

The easy answer is to drink more water. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also good but make sure the sugar content is low because sugar needs water to process.

There has also been growing research that eating fruits with high water content is a better way to hydrate.

To calculate how much water you need in a day which includes a round of golf, divide your body weight in half. This is approximately the number of ounces of water you need.

Weight(150lbs) / 2 = 75 ounces of water needed.

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Drinks That Cause Dehydration

Not all drinks are equal. Many drinks that contain water, can actual cause you to be dehydrated!

These include:

  • Beer (I know, bummer)
  • Coffee
  • Most Tea Drinks
  • Soft Drinks

If you have one of these drinks during your round of golf, you will need to drink more water to compensate. So if you feel thirsty, reach for the water instead.

The key take away is that if you want to play great golf, you need to be hydrated.  And in a summer like this one, being hydrated can save you from illness and hospitalization. So drink up!

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist

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