Golf performance and proper hydration have been linked.  In a recent study of collegiate golfers during tournament play, the average number of strokes to finish an 18 hole course went up by 4 strokes in dehydrated players (Magee 2016). 

Your body’s total water is about 60% – 75% of your bodyweight.  So, one way to measure fluid loss is to compare your baseline weight with your weight during and/or after a round of golf.  Golf performance can be affected with as little as a 1.5% loss in body mass/weight (Smith et al 2012).  This is considered mild dehydration.  

Smith et. al. studied 2 different aspects of golf performance to reveal:  

  1. Motor performance:
    • Target accuracy – hydrated players shot more accurately than dehydrated players.
    • Distance – hydrated players, in general, hit the ball further than dehydrated players.
  2. Cognitive performance:
    • Ability to judge distance – hydrated players consistently judged the distance from different locations, better than dehydrated players.

So, with all of the added benefits of being hydrated, how can you make sure your body fluid levels are where they need to be?  

How we gain and lose water, is variable.  On average, about 20% of our hydration comes from the solid foods that we eat and about 80% comes from the fluids that we drink.

We lose water through:

  • Respiration loss
  • Urination loss
  • Fecal loss
  • Insensible loss – evaporation from skin
  • Sweating

In a controlled environment, without even counting sweating (because it is highly variable), you lose anywhere between 1,050ml (35.5 fluid oz.)  to 3,100ml (104.8 fl oz) of water each day!  

Golfing in hot humid weather, like we have here in South Florida, can increase your sweat rate drastically.  For example, a 154 lb man might have to sweat as much as 24 fl ounces per hour, just to regulate his body temperature in the Florida heat.  Given that the average round of golf is 4 hours, this can be a significant amount of water loss.  In general, more heat and humidity, means more sweating.  

In the end, daily water intake is going to depend on these three variables:

  1. Diet
  2. Environment
  3. Activity level

However, without a lab and/or some fancy equipment, we need practical ways of staying well hydrated especially while on the golf course.  For the sake of simplicity and practicality, I suggest the following:

  1. The rule of thumb:  One simple rule of thumb is to make your total water intake for the day ½ your body weight in ounces.  For example a 150 lb man would drink 75 ounces of water per day.  
  2. Timing: Hydration takes time.  You can’t be chronically dehydrated, then drink your recommended daily intake in one sitting and expect that you’ll now be hydrated and ready to play.  Daily consistency is key.
    1. Start with about a quarter of your intake first thing in the morning.  
    2. Expect to drink about half of your intake while you’re out playing a round of golf.
    3. Then end the day with your last quarter of water.  
  3. Body weight and Urine color as markers: Because of the many variables responsible for daily water loss and gain, it’s also important that you get familiar with your urine color markers and your baseline body weight when you are hydrated.  One way to do this is to start hydrating based on your body weight.  Then for 3 consecutive days get on a scale to see how much you weigh and check the color of your urine.  Your baseline weight is the average of the 3 days as long as the urine color stays pale yellow all 3 mornings.  
    1. Body Weight Method – for every pound less of body weight from your baseline at the end of play you’ll need to replenish with 16 fl oz. of water.  
    2. Urine Color Method – follow the chart below:

Proper hydration has been linked with health benefits, overall wellness, and improved performance.  Cheers to hydration!  




Perrier, Erica T. “Shifting Focus: From Hydration for Performance to Hydration for Health .” Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 70, no. 1, 2017, pp. 4–12.

Armstrong, Lawrence. “Urine Indices During Dehydration, Exercise, and Rehydration.” International Journal of Sports Nutrition , vol. 8, 1998, pp. 345–355.

Magee, Pamela Jane, et al. “High Prevalence of Dehydration and Inadequate Nutritional Knowledge Among University and Club Level Athletes.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, vol. 27, no. 2, 2017, pp. 158–168., doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2016-0053.

Shirreffs, S M. “Markers of hydration status.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 57, 2003, doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601895.

Smith, Mark F, et al. “EFFECT OF ACUTE MILD DEHYDRATION ON COGNITIVE-MOTOR PERFORMANCE IN GOLF.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , vol. 26, no. 11, 2012, pp. 3075–3080.


Daniel Yinh

Daniel Yinh


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