In a tightly contested sport where proper preparation is everything, and form is the difference between a green jacket and missing the cut, golfers are continuously looking for new and effective ways to keep their edge. Is CBD the answer?
What is CBD and how can it help?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a completely non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant, one of over 100 natural components, filtered to remove 100% of the THC content – giving users the benefits of regular use without the unwanted ‘high’.
An increasing number of PGA Tour players, including 2009 US Open-winner Lucas Glover, have begun to use and endorse CBD products. The reason? This all-natural plant extract is attributed to helping alleviate a number of ailments including sleeplessness, anxiety and muscle soreness.(1) But with CBD use relatively new to the world of sports, could the improvements simply coincide with the renewed focus on diet, workout and recovery regimes over the last few years? Glover doesn’t think so:
“I’m sleeping better and I feel like my recovery is better. As far as my overall health, I feel great. I can tell the difference when I wake up in the morning and that’s a big part of it. I’ve always had some nagging, aching pains. Anxiety is something I had also fought. That was the real draw for me.”
Fan-favourite Bubba Watson is also a strong advocate, stating he uses CBD because “after a tough day on the golf course, I want to be able to get better sleep and let the inflammation in my body go down”.(2)
Now there’s two wave-creating recommendations, but what about CBD benefits during a round of 18? Surely not, right? Well, cameras caught a glimpse of Phil Mickelson keeping up his CBD levels at Augusta during the 2019 Masters. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out for yourself – clear confirmation that CBD use is in full swing. And with players of their experience and success backing the products, CBD popularity looks set to grow in popularity as golfers search for the latest, most-effective way to improve their game – on and off the course.
Where the buzz began
This exciting buzz didn’t start at the top PGA rankings, but began in the kit bags of more senior players on the professional Champions Tour. And this makes perfect sense, as playing their later years comes with a new set of problems – no more is it just about practice, form and mental strength, but also coping with an ageing body paired with a still-gruelling schedule.
Battle-seasoned golfer Scott McCarron is one of these men who, searching for an answer to keep his body ready for the rigours of the game as long as possible, CBD appealed to. Wanting to know for sure if CBD could really help him prolong his playing time, he wasn’t leaving anything to chance and closely monitored its effect on his body:
"I went and tried it about two weeks later when I went home. I measure my sleep with a device called WHOOP," McCarron said. "That's a sleep and strain device. Major League Baseball, NFL and Olympic athletes use the device. For the first time in about two years that I'd been wearing the device, I was taking the CBD oil, started on Monday and had sleep in the green, which is fantastic sleep, for seven days straight the first time I took this CBD oil at night to help me sleep."
Want to take CBD? Fair play.
With what McCarron sees as damning evidence, it’s no wonder golfers of all ages are starting to take notice – trying CBD for themselves as they look to cut their shot count. But this raises the question: it works, but is it legal? And is it allowed in the sport?
Put simply, yes. Following its removal from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substance list in 2018 and confirmed as prohibited in-competition, CBD use among athletes is on the rise, with golf leading the way. The PGA themselves have given the green light to CBD, and allow it to sit within its permitted supplements category. However, when it comes to drug tests, golfers must still do their homework and choose only the best-quality CBD out there – those that guarantee third-party quality assurance and safety testing. Why? This gives them a certified guarantee that the products they use, in the dosages they use it, keep the THC levels within the body next to none at all times.
Time to give it a shot
As research and education expands, it’s clear CBD is no longer the locker-room taboo it once was – quite the opposite. Coming in oil, topical creams, sweet gummies and everyday capsules, it’s easier than ever for golfers, both professional and amateurs alike, to take advantage of CBD in a way that works for them.