Although it’s not as physically strenuous as football or basketball, golf requires a lot of energy, with players having to go through the whole nine or 18 holes of an entire golf course under the heat of the scorching sun. They’d have to fight fatigue and muster the energy to hit the ball a fewer number of times to score more points.
In a latest study, researchers from Alabama’s Auburn University tested the effects of caffeine to the scores of individual golf players and found that one cup of coffee improves golf scores by two strokes.
“There’s not a lot of caffeine research in golf,” said the University’s Petey W. Mumford, lead author of the study published online in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
While most studies involving caffeine focus on endurance sports, Mumford’s team gathered together 12 male golfers with a handicap of three to 18, and observed them as they played a 36-hole tournament – an 18-hole round in two days.
The participants of the experiment have been regularly consuming caffeine as part of their daily routines, even before the study. However, for the experiment, the golf players avoided other caffeine sources and ate a meal two hours before the game. Each player also gave a urine sample upon arrival. A device was fitted to each participant so the researchers could monitor each player’s health for the rest of the day.
Before being driven to the tee-off point, the golf players were randomly given either a caffeine supplement or a placebo. A caffeine supplement contained 155 mg, equivalent to one cup of coffee.
Before playing, each of the participants answered an energy and mood questionnaire. During play, in-round golf data was gathered by a research assistant. Instead of riding on a golf cart, the players walked to each hole. After the first nine holes, they were again given either a caffeine supplement or a placebo. The golf players ate a standard meal and answered a second energy and mood questionnaire.
Finally after the 18th hole, they participants answered a third questionnaire.
As a result, the researchers found that the players who were given caffeine supplements got a score of almost 77 strokes. Those who were given a placebo got a score of 79 strokes. The questionnaires also revealed that the players who were given caffeine supplements reported less fatigue and more energy.
“For a skilled golfer who plays two days in a tournament just to get into the earnings rank, two strokes is huge,” said Dr. Kaelin C. Young from the University’s Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.