Hydration Considerations for Young Golf Athletes

By Karen Harrison, BGGA Director of Health and Athletic Development

Adequate hydration is important for both good health and optimum sports performance. It is well-documented that with sporting activity lasting longer than 40-60 minutes, the consumption of water along with carbohydrates (your primary energy source) is performance enhancing. For a golfer, who potentially spends up to five hours playing a tournament round and countless hours practicing outdoors, ensuring adequate hydration is a MUST. Let’s examine the topic of proper hydration for the young golf athlete in more detail.

Firstly, how is dehydration likely to affect you? The general signs and symptoms of dehydration are easily recognized. In cases of mild dehydration, they may include one or more of the following: headache, fatigue/weakness, dizziness, dry skin/lips, nausea and/or muscle cramps. More severe dehydration can cause vomiting, confusion and agitation, with extreme cases leading to convulsions and unconsciousness.

Playing in the heat and humidity magnifies the importance of maintaining a hydrated state since these factors increase the risk of dehydration and even worse, a dangerous rise in core body temperature (usually referred to as heat exhaustion or heat stroke). In fact, these heat-related illnesses can occur even while exercising in a temperature environment (that’s only mid 60’s °F!). It should be said however, that most healthy children and adolescents can safely participate in activities in warm to hot conditions with suitable preparation and monitoring. Thus, most heat-related illnesses are preventable.

Being aware of the risk factors for dehydration or exertional heat-illnesses is the first step towards prevention. Some of the other risk factors affecting golfers may include insufficient consumption/access to fluids during play, poor fitness, inadequate pre-hydration, little sleep/recovery, illness, clothing (if it leads to excessive heat retention) or two rounds played in one day.

Clearly, the potential for poor fluid management to negatively influence performance is substantial, especially in the heat. Recent studies illustrate that even mild dehydration has been shown to reduce the muscular co-ordination required during sports skills (motor performance), affect mental clarity (focus, alertness, the ability to concentrate, decision making) and alter our perception of fatigue (it all seems harder!). In 2012, Smith and colleagues conducted research demonstrating that mild dehydration negatively affected both swing mechanics and decision-making, including the ability to judge distances, changes in slope and recognize differing shades of green. Ultimately, this led to a reduction in both the distance and accuracy of the golf shots measured.

How to know if you are dehydrated? One of the simplest ways is to assess the color of your urine. Generally, pale yellow (the color of lemonade) is a good indication that you are well-hydrated, and darker than the color of apple juice may indicate dehydration. Secondly, and more accurately, determine your sweat rate and therefore fluid loss during exercise under differing environmental conditions. In practice, measure your weight before and after a period of practice, noting how much fluid is consumed. The total amount of fluid lost and therefore weight lost per hour can be easily calculated, arriving at the amount of fluid lost per hour. Obviously, it will differ between individuals and according to the climatic conditions. Engaging in preparation such as this allows you to develop your own hydration strategy for both the practice setting and under tournament conditions which in turn can improve the quality of your practice and maximize performance. The pros do it!

In a conversation with former LPGA player, Sue Kim (Canada) related how she had a problem with drinking on the course; “I would never drink enough during a tournament. I simply forgot to drink”. Her solution? Kim modified her pre-shot routine. Arriving at the next shot, her routine began with a few sips of water. It helped her to maintain a hydrated state during a round and the action became automatic, ensuring she didn’t forget to drink.

General Advice:

  • As a guide, 13-16 year olds need 1.6-1.9L of total fluid each day (from food and fluids). Exercise will increase this amount.
  • Be prepared – bring adequate water with you to the course/practice range. There may not always be opportunities for purchasing water when you need it (e.g., ninth hole).
  • Be aware, thirst may not be a good indicator of how dehydrated you are.
  • Develop your own customized fluid replacement strategy and evaluate in training first before attempting it during a tournament.

Consuming fluids before exercise

  • Aim to start your practice/tournament in a well-hydrated state – check your urine color (ideally it should be pale yellow).
  • Consume 5-10ml/ kg BW water prior to exercise (i.e., 120 lbs. or 55kg = 275-550ml or 8-16 fluid oz.)
  • Consider including sodium in foods/fluids may be useful as it will help you to retain fluid during exercise.

During Exercise

  • Aim for 0.4-0.8 L of fluid per hour (130-250ml every 20 minutes).
  • Water is the number one choice for fluid replacement in most instances.
  • Consume small volumes of fluid frequently throughout the exercise/round/practice.
  • Avoid over-drinking. A condition called Hyponatremia (low blood sodium level) is the risk of consuming too much water, with symptoms shockingly similar to dehydration.
  • Recommendations are to consume enough fluid to minimize loss of body mass (1-2% loss)
  • There may be a case for sports drinks in certain circumstances when a source of carbohydrates and electrolytes (primarily sodium) are required (e.g., when access to food is limited).
  • Cold drinks may help to reduce core body temperature during exercise in the heat and increase the tendency to consume more fluid. Flavored waters may also increase consumption.
  • Avoid energy drinks at all costs!


  • The goal is to drink to 150% of the fluid lost during exercise (based on weight). Yes, more than you lost; this accounts for the obligatory urinary losses.
  • Eat a meal post-practice/tournament – it will provide the carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes (Sodium and Potassium) necessary for recovery.

The optimal strategy for fluid intake for young golfers will vary based on numerous factors including climatic conditions, the opportunity to eat/drink, gastrointestinal comfort and an individual’s own physiology and biochemistry. Thus, consider the hydration recommendations provided and work on developing your own customized hydration strategy for both practice sessions and tournament rounds. It should be considered an essential element of a golf athlete’s preparation.



American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement – Climatic heat stress and exercising children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 128, e741. DOI:10.1542/peds.2011-1664

Coaching Association of Canada. Fluids for athletes. Retrieved from

Desbrow, B., McCormack, J., Burke, L., Cox, G., Fallon, K., Hislop, M., ……. (2014). Sports Dieticians Australia Position Statement: Sports Nutrition for the Adolescent Athlete. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24, 570-584.

Maughan, R. (2010). Fluid and carbohydrate intake during exercise. In L. Bourke and V. Deakin (Eds.), Clinical Sports Nutrition 4th Edition (pp. 330-347). Sydney, Australia: McGraw-Hill Education.

Smith, M.F., Newell, A. J. and Baker, M.R. (2012). Effect of acute mild dehydration on cognitive-motor performance in golf. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(11), 3075-3080.

BGGA Hosts Habitudes Leadership Event for Students

Bishops Gate Golf Academy (BGGA) Leadership and Character Division hosted a Habitudes Leadership event for students on January 15, 2018.

At BGGA, the focus isn’t only on golf. The Academy is driven to instill excellence in golf and character in students and holding these types of events drives home that focus.

BGGA students had the day off from school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and spent their time learning what it takes to become a great leader.

The highlight of the event came when Timothy Alexander shared his story and inspired the students. Timothy Alexander has dedicated his life to motivating and inspiring others. Timothy was ranked the #8 high school football player in his state and had the opportunity to play for any college in the country. A life changing car accident in 2006 left him paralyzed from the neck down. Even though his dreams of playing college and professional football were shattered that day, Alexander has gone on to accomplish new dreams and find his purpose in life.

The students were captivated by his story and took to heart his message about being able to do anything they want to do by being persistent, resilient, consistent and committed.

The presentation was led by Executive Leadership Coach Michael Arnold and Andrew McPeak of Growing Leaders.

Arnold will continue the Habitudes series with students by holding more seminars throughout the semester.

BGGA Students Cap Off 2017 With Wins

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Bishops Gate Golf Academy’s Petr Hruby won the Doral Publix Junior Golf Classic Boys 16-18 Division in a sudden death, one-hole playoff on Saturday, December 23, 2017. Hruby and Alejandro Madariaga both finished at 1-over 217, but Hruby was able to make birdie to clinch the win.

Hruby, from Czech Republic, shot rounds of 75, 70 and 72 over the three-day event. Hruby adds this win to a second-place finish he had this fall on the IJGT.

<img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-6895″ src=”×224.png” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”224″ />BGGA’s Tianyu “Jeffrey” Wu also capped his 2017 season off with a win. Wu finished at 4-over 218 to win the CJGA World Junior Challenge on December 30, 2017 at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

The Chinese junior golfer had rounds of 74, 73 and 71 to win by four strokes. This makes the second top-5 finish for Wu this fall.

BGGA’s Diego Cordova finished T2 at the Dixie Amateur from December 19-22, 2017 at Heron Bay and TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla. The Mexican junior golfer had rounds of 70, 70, 71 and 72 for a 5-under 283. Cordova was one shot shy of the winner.

Other BGGA students at the Doral Publix Junior Golf Classic had top results including Siyan Chen’s third-place finish, Tracy Lee’s seventh-place finish and Manhua Chen’s T8 finish.

BGGA’s Hiroshi Tai finished T4 at the Junior Orange Bowl Championship on December 30, 207 at the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables, Fla. Tai finished at 7-under 277 with rounds of 68, 69, 73 and 67.

Tai, from Singapore, moved up the leaderboard in the final round after carding a bogey-free, 4-under 67.

BGGA students return to the Academy this week, and we look forward to seeing more great results in 2018.

The Original You: Hiroshi Tai

Hear about Hiroshi Tai’s journey in golf and about the impact BGGA has had on his game and life.

BGGA’s Siyan Chen Claims Title at Sea Pines Junior Heritage

Bishops Gate Golf Academy student Siyan Chen won the Girls Division at the Sea Pines Junior Heritage on Sunday, February 4, 2018 at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Chen, a junior at BGGA from China, posted a first-round 3-under 69. Little did Chen know that the final round would be canceled due to weather and course conditions and that she would be named the winner based on first-round scores.

During the first round Chen recorded six birdies and three bogeys to lead the Girls Division by six strokes.

In the Boys Division, BGGA’s Dongjin Park and Hiroshi Tai finished T3 by scoring 1-over 73 during the first round.

Also competing this weekend was BGGA’s Cynthia Tu who finished T5 in the IMG Junior Golf Tour event at Rio Pinar Country Club in Orlando, Fla. Tu used rounds of 76 and 74 for a 6-over 150 finish.

BGGA students will use this week of golf training to prepare for upcoming junior golf tournaments.

Where Are They Now? With Marcos Montenegro

Marcos Montenegro graduated from Bishops Gate Golf Academy in May 2016 and spent the last year and a half training and playing in amateur and professional events around the world.

BGGA caught up with Montenegro when he returned to train at the Academy this winter.

What have you been up to since you left BGGA?
I’ve been training in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with my coach Santiago Garat. I’ve been playing in amateur tournaments as well as events on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

What are your goals?
Montenegro: I’m trying to play more events on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica as well as some Tour events to play at a high level. This is going to help prepare me for a professional career.

Do you know when you’re going to turn professional?
Maybe next January.

Why do you choose to come back and train at BGGA?
It’s amazing this place. I like to practice here and return to the place that has given me a lot. It’s really good to come back here where it feels like it’s family.

What did you learn at BGGA that you’ve taken with you and used since graduating?
Montenegro: I learned a lot. Living here is different than Argentina. There are more responsibilities here, so I think I learned so much outside of golf.

Garat: He came back to Argentina grown up. His English improved while at BGGA. He came to BGGA as a boy and came back to Argentina as a man.