Every golfer is looking for an edge that’ll give them an advantage. Whether it’s a match play tournament, a stroke-play qualifier, or just a recreational game with your buddies, there’s always a drive to play well and create stories to tell over and over again at the 19th hole. With the dawn of advanced metrics like strokes gained statistics and new technology enabling golfers to track their performance shot-by-shot, there are many different ways to gain an edge.
But what if there was a way to improve your golf game just by drinking green tea? While regulating your diet to maintain steady energy levels has long been a focus of professional golfers, many amateurs don’t pay much attention to such things. A hot dog and a sports drink at the turn, and maybe a few beers on the back 9 is the usual golf course diet for many amateur players. But recent studies are indicating that a sensible caffeine source like green tea can help you keep your head in the game and shave strokes off your score.
Even if you’re someone who already has a normal level of caffeine intake throughout the day, it appears that timing your caffeine intake to optimize its impact on your golf game can help you cut strokes from your game.
A recent study at Auburn University, which controlled for outside influences like diet prior to and during the round, gave elite amateur golfers either caffeine or a placebo right before their round and then again after nine holes. They surveyed the players to gauge their mood and emotional state as well.
The results were surprisingly consistent: the group that received 155mg of caffeine before the round and after 9 holes tended to average two strokes better than the un-caffeinated group. It didn’t matter if the players had a prior tolerance to caffeine from being regular coffee or tea drinkers, or if caffeine consumption was entirely new to them.
When the results of the Auburn study came out, I was intrigued enough to conduct my own mini-study. Rather than sticking to the “cup of coffee” amount of 155mg of caffeine in two distinct doses, I tried a couple of things. Green tea contains 30-50mg in a properly brewed cup, so I started the day with a cup of green tea, then took a thermos full of it to the golf course.
Most people are playing golf in the heat of summer, so it makes sense to me to make green tea ahead of time and bring it on ice in a Yeti or similar double-walled thermos. This makes it cool and refreshing, and easy to drink slowly over the course of an entire round.
Spreading the green tea consumption over the course of the entire round instead of a high dose at the beginning and a high dose at the end seemed to help even more. Both my game and the game of my students stayed consistent and good. Golfers know that it’s usually just a short stretch of holes that will ruin a good round; there will be 6 or 7 pars surrounding a stretch of two or three bogeys and double-bogeys in a row.
A slow, steady flow of green tea is a great way to avoid mental lapses during a long, exhausting round of golf. My performance and my students’ performance were noticeably more consistent when we did our green tea experiment: there were fewer outlier holes and overall scores were better.
Most of the time, the really big numbers come from mental lapses rather than physical ones. Keeping a steady flow of green tea intake going instead of water rounded out the mental lapses and helped maintain the high level of focus that golf requires. With improved focus comes both better initial shots but also better decisions after bad shots. Instead of compounding mistakes, golfers with a lightly caffeinated, well-hydrated brain are able to make good decisions that minimize damage and keep good scores going.
Many golfers take up the sport as a way to stay active later in life. It’s a common recommendation from doctors who see retirees who are no longer able to play the sports of their youth, like basketball or football, to suggest that they take up golf. The addictive nature of the sport is perfect for adults who crave the competition of sport but whose bodies need a lower-impact method of exercise.
After years of desk jobs and not-enough-exercise, golf is a good way to lose some of the excess weight that’s been put on over the years. And green tea helps augment the benefits of golf, increasing the body’s metabolism both with its catechins and its caffeine. So the weight-loss and fat-burning benefits that you’re already getting from hitting the golf course and walking 18 holes are multiplied when you implement a green tea regimen into your golf game.
Not only will your scores improve, but your fitness will too.
While most people consider golf to be a summer sport, I and many of my golf buddies aren’t afraid to play when it’s cold outside, often hitting the links in January when we get a 45-degree day and there’s not too much snow.
Hot chocolate is too calorie-laden and coffee simply has too much caffeine for me: the overstimulation leads to excess nerves and jitteriness. But a nice warm thermos of green tea delivers the perfect inner warming sensation along with the right amount of caffeine to glean the mental focus benefits we’ve already covered.
When it’s cold out, many athletes neglect proper hydration, forgetting that all exercise requires liquid replenishment. Taking along a steaming thermos of green tea for drinking before and during your round of golf makes hydration a true pleasure rather than a burden.
To sum it up: green tea will help your golf game and may even improve your fitness level too. It’s ideal for hydration during the round and gives you a mental focus edge that just might propel you to victory in your next club championship. Whether it’s piping hot or poured over ice, green tea should be considered part of your golf equipment.
Golf Expert / Editor-in-Chief
Jordan Fuller is a golf mentor who also writes for https://golfinfluence.com/, which is a golf publication that he owned. When Jordan was young, his parents bring him along to their tee time on golf courses near their home in Ohama, Nebraska. By then, he was an aspirant who wants to get his play better, so he decided to become a member of a golf course, which leads him to where he is now.
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In the movie, Karate Kid Part II with actor Ralph Macchio playing the now iconic character of Daniel LaRusso. In the movie, the tea ceremony served as a means for Daniel and Kumiko to offer and accept each other's feelings.
Learn about the roots of the Japanese traditional tea ceremony as well as the health benefits of consuming green tea.