Pace Yourself: Don't Let an Injury Ruin Your Next Golf Trip

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Ana Belac of Slovenia stretches at the driving range during the first round for the 2021 KPMG Women's Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on June 24, 2021 in Johns Creek, Georgia. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America)

Planning a great golf getaway is fun. We leave work, projects, and daily tasks behind. This allows us to play an unlimited amount of golf during our trip. Most golfers will take advantage of that time and schedule multiple rounds per day. As a PGA Coach, I support playing as much golf as possible, but before we load up four straight days of 36 holes, please consider the following recommendation.
There are two basic ways to sour a cool golf expedition. The first is the weather. Though we cannot control the weather, we tend to choose locations with better climates than our own. The second is a common issue and even more often overlooked.  Injury. Unfortunately, it happens too often and the primary cause on most trips is too much golf!
Let’s use an example of a golfer who shoots in the 90-100 range taking a long weekend trip. The initial plan is to play 36 holes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then fly home on Monday morning. When you consider how many holes to play, start with your normal number of rounds per week. If you commonly play 1-2 times per week and plan to quickly jump to 6, be careful.
Golf is an athletic activity. It brings wear and tear to the body. In a normal round for those who shoot about 100 there are about 50 full swings, another 40-50 practice swings and a considerable walk. If you play 1-2 times a week that activity is stretched out over days, not hours, for the body to recover. Now imagine doubling that effort on successive days. It can be done, but you will have to consider some extra steps to ensure you don’t hurt yourself in the process.
1) Stretch. 
  • If you are already active and workout that’s great. If most of your day is spent sitting still, start stretching your golf muscles at least 10-14 days in advance of your trip. Shoulder and hip mobility are crucial to enjoying your golf. Get those major muscle groups working prior to that first round away.
2) Pace yourself. 
  • Don’t play 36 the first day. Instead play 18 and then try to take advantage of some other aspect of the destination. There could be a spa or short course. Take in the entire experience and that extra rest will pay huge dividends later.
3) Ride ‘em if you got ‘em. 
  • If your destination offers caddies and or carts, don’t walk all day. Enjoy the early round steps and make sure you grab that buggy for the afternoon 18. If you never walk when you play, save the walking days for just 18 holes. Another great trick for 36-hole days is to change your shoes and socks in between 18’s. It sounds simple, but it really refreshes the feet. You won’t believe how much it will help on successive multi-round days.
By using this simple strategy, your body will feel better as the trip continues. Your golf muscles will build up endurance and be better prepared to close the journey with a couple 36-hole days. Playing golf all day sounds easy, but if you’re not used to that level of golf activity you can hurt yourself. Sitting in the plane waiting is bad enough but imagine sitting on the porch overlooking the 18th hole as your trip mates close out their round.
Be thoughtful in your approach and you will bring home memories of a great trip.

Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.

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