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Renslow: Avoid helicopter ride, stay hydrated

During these ‘dog days of summer’ (when the ancient Greeks believed that the seas boiled, wine turned sour and dogs grew mad) it is very important for your body and, in turn, your golf game to stay hydrated.

More than once, I have seen the helicopter swoop in to carry out a languid and listless golfer. I’m sure everything turned out alright, but apart from the cool copter ride, who wants to miss out on a perfectly good round of golf?

Let’s find out; are sports drinks the way to go? If so, which one is best? Or, is water the best thing to drink? How much do we need to drink? The two basic elements are…what fluid is best and how much of it should we drink? Of course, I’m not a doctor (although I’ve used a stethoscope with a few volunteers), so please accept this as general information.



For those of us whose minds immediately flashed to beer, the answer is no. Certainly, a popular choice following a round of golf, but this adult beverage will actually dehydrate your body. Try to avoid alcohol during the heat, unless you’d like the helicopter ride.

What about fruit juice? On balance, most juices are nutritious, but they are not the best choice to hydrate your body. The natural sugars (fructose) in the juice reduce the ability for your cells to absorb water. Remember, fruit is a food, but probably not the best thing for hydration.




Soda? The problem, again, is sugar, as well as caffeine. Caffeine and sugar will slow down your body’s ability to absorb water or hydrate.

Knowing all of this, our best choice will most likely be a ‘sports drink’ or water. Water really is the best, natural hydrator. Drink it early and often. However, if you’re like me, a little pizzazz is nice. Sometimes one will not drink enough water, because it’s not as flavorful.

Enter the “sports drink.” We’ve heard the brands, Gatorade (inspired by the University of Florida football program), Powerade, Propel, etc. They’ve got minerals, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that we lose during exercise or in the heat. The only problem is that the original versions contain a lot of sugar, as many as 20 or more grams of sugar. You might as well drink a donut.

Recently, however, Gatorade has introduced a low-calorie G2 version. Powerade and Propel each have “Zero” with no calories.

How much should we drink? First off, start hydrating before you play. Then, as a ‘rule of thumb,’ we need about 4-6 ounces of fluid for every 15-20 minutes of exercise. Using my NASA level math skills, this would be about a pint an hour or perhaps a gallon over the course of your average round of golf.

Enjoy the game, enjoy the nice, warm weather and make sure you drink a few bottles of your favorite sports drink or water during your round to help you shoot those low scores.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com.


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