If you are an avid golfer but most of your friends participate in other sports such as marathon running or cycling, one of the more frustrating things you probably encounter is defending the physical demands of your sport.
Many people who have never played a full round of golf scoff at the notion that golf is exercise; after all, what is often shown on TV is a lot of standing around and making occasional swings and putts.
However, golf is indeed physically demanding and a full round of golf can take 3 to 5 hours, depending on the length of the course, the pace of the groups in front of you, your skill level, and how many balls you have lost along the way.
Therefore, food for golfers on the course is an important part of staying properly fueled to feel your best and perform your best, just as fueling for other sports like marathon running and distance cycling is important.
So, what are the best snacks for golfers? What kind of nutrition do golfers need on the golf course?
In this article, we will share some ideas for the best snacks for golfers to take with you on the course to keep your energy levels up and hunger at bay so that you can focus on having your best round yet.
Let’s get started!
What Are the Best Snacks for Golf?
There are several things to think about when trying to come up with a list of the best snacks for golf.
Having an idea of what you are looking for in a golf snack—in terms of attributes—can help you come up with additional golf snacks beyond this list that will meet your needs and taste preferences when you get bored of these suggested foods for golfers.
Here are a few of the important criteria to consider when choosing the best snacks for golfers:
As is the case with sports like running, having a highly portable snack for golf is important. Unless you have a golf cart with you, you will need your golf snacks to be something compact and portable that can fit in your golf bag.
Unlike something like hiking, which has some of the same physical demands as playing a full round of golf, you probably will not have a large pack to carry a big snack.
In other words, a huge bag of popcorn or a big bag of grapes is probably not going to work well.
Not only are these foods bulky and difficult to fit in your bag with your clubs, but they can also be crushed easily when you are trying to select which driver or iron you want and pulling clubs in and out of your bag.
Your golf snack should be compact and durable.
The majority of golf courses are extremely open, subjecting you and your gear (including your golf snacks) to the sun.
In most cases, you probably will not have ample room to tote around a cooler or insulated lunch pack with a bunch of ice, so you need to choose golf snacks that will not spoil in the sun or heat, and do not require prolonged refrigeration or freezing before you eat them.
There can be some ways to get around this at least in terms of foods that are normally eaten chilled, but you shouldn’t take snacks for golf like lunch meats, leftover shredded chicken, popsicles, or even certain cheeses with you on the golf course unless you plan to eat them right away when you arrive.
With high-intensity sports like distance running and triathlon training, it is particularly important to focus on high-carbohydrate snacks during exercise to replenish glycogen stores as they are depleted quickly.
One of the nice things about choosing snacks for golf is that although there are some high-intensity moments with powerful swings, the majority of the golf workout is low-intensity endurance walking and movement. As such, your body will primarily use fat for fuel, along with carbohydrates.
Additionally, because golf is a low-impact sport, there isn’t a lot of jostling or jarring on the digestive tract as you play, and the lower-intensity nature of the golf game allows your stomach to maintain digestion more so than during high-intensity exercise, wherein so much blood is shunted away from the gut to fuel the working muscles that digestion essentially ceases.
In such high-intensity sports, you really have to stick to only simple carbohydrates for these various reasons, but food for golfers on the course can’t be more balanced in terms of macronutrients without needing to rely nearly entirely on simple carbohydrates.
This isn’t to say that you are going to sit down and have a salmon filet with a side of broccoli, but it does mean that you have a lot more flexibility in choosing the types of foods for your golf snacks. You can choose more nutritious, balanced, high-protein, high-fat, complex carbohydrate foods rather than simple sugars for your golf snacks.
To this end, because your digestive system is better able to maintain function during golf and you don’t need such quick-acting energy, you can choose golf snacks that align with your specific diet or even if you are on a low-carb, high-fat diet like the keto diet or a macronutrient balanced diet like the Paleo diet, Zone diet, or even 40-40-20 diet.
Lastly, you should choose golf snacks that you enjoy. While this might seem obvious, sports nutrition for many sports often involves choosing snacks that the athlete may not actually really like. For example, marathon runners often have to choke down energy gels because it’s the only thing their stomachs can tolerate while running.
When you are playing golf, fueling during your golf game is still really important so you want to choose golf snacks that are appealing and palatable to you when you are out in the sun on the course while you are playing so that you actually eat them.
If you take along a bag of mini pretzels and you really don’t like plain, dry pretzels, there’s a good chance you’re not really going to take in your nutrition, defeating the entire purpose of bringing the snack in the first place.
The 4 Best Snacks for Golfers
Here are some suggestions for the best snacks for golfers to take with you on the course:
1. Trail Mix
Trail mix generally contains various nuts and dried fruit, sometimes with seeds, dry cereal, pretzels, and chocolate chips or M&Ms, depending on your taste preferences, caloric needs, and the diet you are following.
Particularly when you focus on nuts, dried fruits, and seeds, trail mix provides an energy-dense, nutrient-packed, healthy snack for golf. You don’t need a very big bag at all because nuts and dried fruit are compact and calorically dense, making it a super portable, temperature stable, easy snack for golf.
A small Ziploc bag works great if you make your own homemade trail mix, or you can buy larger bags or single-serve trail mix products at the store and either partition them into individual bags or take them with you in your golf bag as is.
When buying prepared trail mix, look for low-sodium options, particularly if you have high blood pressure.
One of the reasons that trail mix is also such a great snack for golf is that you can nibble on it throughout the duration of the round, having a few nuts and fruit morsels every couple of holes. You can just reseal the Ziploc bag in between feedings.
2. Rice Cracker Mix
If you are watching your caloric intake, you can buy rice cracker mixes, which are an Asian snack made with seasoned rice crackers of different shapes and flavors.
This is a high-carbohydrate snack so that you won’t get more satiating protein and fat, but it is low-calorie and easy to pick on as you play golf.
3. Protein Bars
Protein bars and energy bars are among the best snacks for golf because they are compact and portable and you can have one halfway through your game to keep your energy levels stable.
You can even fit one in your pocket, and there are so many different products to choose from, allowing you to find a bar that satisfies your taste preferences and dietary needs.
4. Low-Sodium Jerky
Low-sodium meat jerky or plant-based protein jerky is a healthy snack for golf that will keep well in your golf bag over the course and will provide you with plenty of sustained energy.
Don’t forget to pack water or a sports drink with you on the course. You need to stay well hydrated, particularly on sunny days.