Spring is teasing us here in Ohio, where we’ve been booking tee times in the coming days and hoping the weather holds out, going for walks without a coat on, and enjoying adult beverages on the back patio. For those of us that drink, few things seem more exciting than those first outdoor sips with friends.

For some of us, drinks on the golf course are a positive part of the golf experience. Maybe it’s a couple beers with the guys before you start. Perhaps it’s the rogue beers you stash in your bag during a quick round at the pitch and putt (shout out to our favorite Cape May, NJ course and team beer minimums of our friendly annual scramble). You might even end your round with some drinks with the squad. 

While I certainly love an ice cold beer on the hottest days, my job today is to be a buzzkill. If we want to amplify our golf game, we can’t ignore the impact of alcohol on your golf game. In short, even small doses of alcohol have a negative impact on performance. Even if the impact is not perceptible to you, it is objectively impacting your performance. I am not going to belabor each point but I want to hit you with a list of quick facts about alcohol use and sport performance so you can begin to think about what role you want alcohol to play in your golf game improvement. 

Even 1-2 drinks of alcohol…

  • Slow our reaction time
    The ability to move from the thought of your swing to executing is slower and less smooth
  • Impair balance
    Balance is key to controlling your swing. Reduced balance reduces club control
  • Decrease coordination
    Coordination is what helps us get the club head to the ball in a way that sends the ball where we want it to go
  • Impair our decision making
    You’ll make riskier, less wise choices about your shot from club choice to power and speed
  • Reduce endurance
    Fatigue sets in sooner, especially if you’re walking
  • dehydrate us quickly
    Playing 18 on a hot day is already going to cause dehydration issues and alcohol amplifies that
  • Increase inflammation
    Alcohol increases blood flow to an injured area causing more pain, stiffness, and swelling. Especially problematic for folks with chronic, nagging injury
  • Reduce immune functioning
    Makes us much more susceptible to sickness

If I’m real with you, this information isn’t usually going to deter me from a drink during a casual round. However, when I’m really trying to focus on getting better and improving my game, I’m going to avoid alcohol for 48 hours before I play to ensure I give myself the best shot at being able to get better and amplify my golf game. No buzz and no hangover makes for smarter shots and a smoother round. Cheers to that.

Dr. Chelsi Day

Dr. Day is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is an Ohio native who completed her Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Health and Sport Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio while competing on the Varsity Swimming and Diving team as a diver. She then went on to earn a Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology followed by a Master's degree and later a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University New England in Keene, NH.