5 Tips for Playing 36 Holes in a Day

This article first appeared on Golfshake.com in Jul 2019

While playing 36 holes will always be challenging, we highly recommend you don’t take it on in the winter season! If we consider that 18 holes can take anywhere between 2-4 hours, committing to 36 will take a substantial chunk of the day away. However, this is golf, and what golfer doesn’t want to play golf all day? Below, we provide five expert tips to help you kick-start – and sustain – your way through 36 grueling holes – are you ready?

1. Eat Right

Remember what your mother always said to you? Something to the effect of ‘you are what you eat’? Well, whilst chowing down on a Big Mac won’t literally metamorphose you into a giant beef patty, it’ll certainly make you feel like one. Likewise, eating nothing but air will make you feel weightless and thin. It goes without saying that this stuff is doubly important when playing 36 holes. A good or bad diet will have a huge impact on whether you finish with a spectacular bang or a drippy whimper. To maximize your chances of feeling as minimally fatigued and as energized during the second 18 as the first one, pack plenty of high energy snacks like glucose gels, energy bars, dried fruit and nuts. Nuts are especially good as they are packed full of protein and energizing fats, providing substantial, slow-releasing energy to support you throughout your round. Be sure to snack at regular intervals and ensure a hearty (but not heavy!) breakfast and lunch. If you’re tackling 36 holes in a day, you want all the (good) calories you can get.

2. Train

Perhaps because it lacks the vivacity of running, many people think that walking long distances is easy. It’s not. The best way to improve your endurance and ability to walk 36 holes without feeling fatigued is, as with running, to train. Lunges and step-ups are great for building up calve and quad muscles, while weight lifting and specific golfing exercises (such as kettle ball turns) can improve your ability to keep making good swings. If you’re playing 36 holes this weekend, however, a quick burst on the bench press isn’t going to do much. Instead, consider taking a buggy, or, at the very least procuring an electric or push trolley. Lagging a heavy carry bag for 36 holes is a surefire way to damage your back for all but the fittest of players.

3. Pack Extra Clothes

Unless you’ve got a skin made of toweling, then 36 holes of golf in the summer is going to make you sweat. While wearing a clammy and sweat sodden shirt and socks is unlikely to impact too greatly upon your game, the discomfort could be psychologically distracting. More simply, it could just be uncomfortable. In order to reduce this (and thus make your day more enjoyable), consider packing an extra pair of socks, shirt and perhaps even a fresh set of underpants and trousers to re-clothe after the first 18 holes. It may not seem that important, but, be assured, your skin will thank you for it.

4. Stay Hydrated

More elementary school stuff, this, but important to emphasize nevertheless. Experts say that you should drink between 6 to 8 glasses of water a day and this number only rises when you’re exercising in the heat of summer. If you don’t make sure to pack and consume sufficient water during your 36-hole odyssey, your golf game and your physical comfort are going to suffer. Lack of H2O will heighten fatigue, decrease your ability to concentrate and result in a greater amount of sub-optimal shots. If you’re serious about tackling two or more rounds a day, be sure to drink plenty of water.

5. Play Savvy

As well as maintaining a positive on-course diet, there are many other ways of conserving energy. First off – don’t, if you’ve got the option, play off the back tees during your round. The difference between the yellows and the whites is commonly up to 500 extra yards, and that means an additional kilometer of walking over 36 holes. This may sound small, but every little helps and the extra toil could be enough to cost you a few crucial shots down the stretch. Another quick and easy way of making your 36-hole marathon more bearable is to play stableford rather than medal. The ability to just pick up when a hole doesn’t go to plan (rather than vigorously hacking about without reprieve) should help reduce the number of shots you have to hit, as well as the distance you walk and thus further contribute to saving energy.

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