Study: Caffeine may help your golf game

Research study
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Heading to the course? You might want to get a cup of Joe to go.
By Mark Aumann
PGA.com

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Saturday, August 29, 2015 | 1:54 p.m.

Before heading out to the course for your next round, you might want to go ahead and grab a cup of coffee or a caffeinated drink.

That’s the findings of a recent study done by a group of Auburn University researchers into the possible influence of caffeine on golf-specific performance and fatigue.

It was posted on the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal page of the American College of Sports Medicine website.

The researchers studied 12 male golfers with single-digit handicaps in a two-day, 36-hole tournament. Half received a caffeine supplement — roughly equal to the caffeine in an average cup of coffee — before their round and then again at the turn. The others received a placebo.

Then they checked a number of normal golf variables, including score, driving distance, fairways and greens in regulation, and putting. In addition, they recorded heart and breathing rates. The golfers were also asked to assess their own feelings of energy and fatigue, alertness and concentration.

When the results were tabulated, the numbers were surprising. The group taking the caffeine supplements averaged a score of 76.9, while those with the placebo averaged 79.4. The caffeinated group averaged two more greens in regulation and more than six yards better in driving distance, on average.

They also claimed to feel more energy and less fatigue, even though the heart and breathing rates showed no substantial measurable difference.

The conclusion? According to the research paper, “a moderate dose of caffeine consumed before and during a round of golf improves golf-specific measures of performance and reduces fatigue in skilled golfers.”

Two things to take from the study: One, they studied “skilled golfers,” so it’s hard to know if the average mid-handicapper can expect any benefit at all, other than a pressing need to find a bathroom. Two, other studies have shown too much caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure, accentuating the yips.

Even worse, other side effects from over-caffeination can include headaches, insomnia, anxiety and stomach distress. So as always, check with your doctor. Or your local Starbucks.

The abstract of the study is available here.