How to Overcome Late-Round Golf Fatigue
Golf has an extensive and storied history as modern versions of the game date back to Scotland's 15th century.[i] Fast forward to today, and people continue to celebrate golf on both a professional and amateur level widely.
While playing golf may not require as much physical energy as a sport like basketball or football, fatigue can set in during a full-length golf game as 18 holes take an average of four hours to complete.[ii] When fatigue sets in during golf, it usually occurs during the final or back nine holes.
Golf fatigue usually results in[iii]:
- Less active legs during a swing
- Low levels of focus
- Reduced mental strength
Less activated legs can lead to shorter shots that veer left or right.[iii] If your levels of focus are diminished, you may end up missing easy putts and/or messing up other swings you normally feel comfortable with.[iii] No one wants this when they’re playing a round! Mental stamina is also important during golf (more on that later). Recognizing when it’s time to put a bad shot behind you and let go, may help reduce the time that particularly poor shot comes back to haunt you in future play.[iii]
We're going to unpack some tips you can take to avoid late-round golf fatigue by discussing what to do before, during, and post-golf. These are suggestions to help, not recommendations. Listening to your body, evaluating your own game, and tailoring said tips to your lifestyle is what we’re here for.
Ready to get started? One great first step is to objectively evaluate your game history. Let’s dive in!
Objectively Evaluate Your Golf Play
If you haven't been tracking your golf stats through scorecards, yardage books, or plain notebooks, now's a great time to start. Recording your golf scores helps you evaluate if a dip is occurring in your performance during your play's final nine holes.[v] Carrying a plain notebook in addition to your scorecard can help you jot down more detailed notes that characterize how you're feeling physically and mentally during late holes. Aggregating these notes over five or more games can help track any patterns you might find. Maybe you start to get tired by the ninth hole, or notice swings at the end of the match veer left.
Once you establish an objective perspective of your game through recording your personal notes and statistics, you can help identify and address gaps in your play that might be contributing toward fatigue.
Focus on Your Mental Golf Game
Factors that can create mental stress during golf include:
- The number of variables golf presents
- Betting money on your performance
One reason people enjoy golf is the opportunity to socialize with others while they play. Keeping things light through conversation with your golfing company is a great way to stay positive and reduce your mental stress. If you’re golfing alone, thinking about things other than golf can lower the amount of stress you experience while playing. The open, outdoor setting that golf provides can be a great setting to sort out thoughts and reframe your mentality.
While it’s often necessary to strategize and think one step ahead when golfing, shifting your focus to the present moment can help reduce the number of thoughts floating through your head about the game. Moving your attention to the present moment allows you to focus on making the right move now, which will increase the chances of your future play running more smoothly. The past is out of the equation. All that matters is this current shot.
Focus on Your Physical Golf Game
The notes you record in your notebook can go a long way toward helping you maintain your physical wellbeing during the last holes of a golf game. If you notice a trend of conditions like backaches, tired feet, or cramps, you can begin to study and implement treatments for those conditions.
Tired feet are another common physical issue that golfers deal with. One solution to dealing with tired feet might be to your feet sized and then wear a unique pair of golf shoes customized for you. While having a pair of shoes custom built may cost a bit more than buying shoes off the rack, you can prioritize what you need to help best improve your golf game.[v]
Poor posture can harm your golf game as poor posture places higher pressure levels on your legs and spine.[iv] If overworking your legs and spine, your legs may be less engaged during a swing resulting, as we said earlier, in inconsistent shots. Backaches or general back fatigue is another common physical complaint of golfers. One great tip is to focus on your posture with each swing and monitor if this produces a more consistent swing (that’s where the notebook comes in handy!).
One study revealed that those who walked with a tall posture had naturally higher energy levels than those who didn’t.[iv] Like all studies, more research is always needed to help draw conclusions, but it’s worth trying it out on yourself during a game—does standing taller help you feel more energetic? How does your swing game change?
While it’s important to take care of yourself and listen to your body during a round of golf, wellness and wellbeing also starts before you walk onto the course.
Take Care of Yourself Before Golfing
Consuming a balanced diet and staying hydrated are helpful ways to stay ahead of fatigue during the last nine holes of your golf game. Healthy carbs, fats, and proteins can provide you with the fuel needed to maintain optimal energy levels during the later portion of a golf round.[v] Some great foods include bananas, oranges, sweet potatoes, avocados, cheese, eggs, tuna, and almonds to help create a well-balanced diet before you start a round.[vi, vii, viii] Keep an eye out for refined sugars in processed foods which may lead to an energy crash toward the end of your round.
Stay Hydrated During Golfing
The importance of hydration during golfing can, unfortunately, be overlooked at times. Proper hydration can bring mental clarity, increase physical performance, and have a positive effect on long-term health.
Dehydration can definitely interfere with your golf game as its symptoms include:[ix]
- Muscle cramps
The two types of dehydration are mild and severe dehydration. If you're playing golf in warm weather, and don’t keep an eye out for the early signs of dehydration, severe dehydration could lead to heat-related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. One great tip is to integrate regular hydration breaks into your game. This might be pausing every 15 minutes or kick off every 5th swing with a quick water break.
Another great option for helping with hydration is to add electrolyte powders to your water bottle to help speed up the absorption of the water molecules.
Our drink mixes are lightly flavored with real fruit juice powder and include a precise balance of electrolytes to give you a rush of hydration. Plus, if you need an extra kick, some of our mixes include 100mg of caffeine and 200mg of L-theanine for sustained energy and focus.
Stretch and Warm-Up Before Golfing
Going into a golf game already loose from stretching can help you feel relaxed, focused, and energized going into a game. Starting a game without stretching may place you at a higher risk for muscle cramps and/or pulls.
If you decide to warm up for your golf game by visiting the range, one tip is to find the “Goldielocks-style warmup,” that is—just enough to help warmup your muscles but not enough so that it results in burnout during your final holes.[v]
Now that we've covered some steps you can take before you golf to reduce late-round fatigue, it's time to access how you can take care of yourself during actual play.
Late-Round Golf Fatigue During Play
Walk the course or ride the cart? Remember our one tip about keeping your body loose and limber? Walking the course can help to promote blood flow and maintain that limberness. But, we understand that’s a lot of steps to take in...so one compromise might be walking for nine holes and riding the rest of the way.
We touched on how the foods you eat can help promote energy and overall wellbeing on the course.. Snacks during play can help here too, especially if you're playing a five-hour game. Nuts, fruits, and protein bars are all examples of quality snack options that can fuel your play.[v]
Remember that it’s ok to have ups and downs while playing. If playing on a new course, you may come across frustrating obstacles or quirks that could lead to higher stress levels. It’s ok if that’s the case here, it’s a learning process. Make a note in your notebook and track it over time—who knows, maybe you’ll find you like the thrill of the challenge of a new course and it leads to a better overall stroke.
It’s also just as important to focus on yourself after the game as it is before and during. Staying hydrated, stretching and recovering are all great options to give yourself a well-rounded experience and help build your stamina.
One fun recovery activity could be to review the notes you made during your previous game and track your perceived fatigue levels over time. At the end of the day, it’s all about having a good time on the course and tailoring a plan that fits your needs and lifestyle.