Should you take Creatine for Golf?


Creatine Pill

As a Physical Therapist who has played sports all my life and being an avid weight lifter as well, I have used creatine for many years and have reaped the benefits of doing so. Over the years I have studied many research articles demonstrating the breadth of benefits this great supplement has to offer. In this article, I will combine my personal experience with my many years of research into using creatine to explain why this may be the best supplement to boost your golf performance.

The bottom line is this: You should start taking creatine if you are a golfer. Research has proven that creatine leads to increased muscle mass, strength, power, recovery, and performance during high-intensity activities. This will lead to longer drivers and lower scores on the golf course.

The Tried and True Supplement

One of the most misunderstood supplements in the sports industry and fitness world is creatine. It is a very polarizing supplement with some thinking it is on par with steroids (it’s not) to others who believe it will give the user cancer (it won’t). I distinctly remember my high school days with students whispering to each other that so and so is taking creatine as if they were taking the strongest steroids known to man and the only reason they could have gotten so strong or big had to be the secretive creatine or my mother when finding out I was taking creatine looking at me as if I would drop dead at any second. While creatine is no wonder drug it is one of the most widely researched supplements in the world with over 1000 research articles covering its use.

The research has proven that it is effective in improving muscle mass, strength, improving performance during high-intensity activities, and improving recovery. Creatine is safe to take and is not on the list of banned substances for golf or any other sport that I am aware of. I’m going to show you that if used in conjunction with a solid fitness and nutrition plan the addition of creatine supplementation could give your golf game a much-needed boost.

So what does this have to do with golf?

There are two main energy systems that the body uses depending on the type of activity performed. The aerobic system is used for activities lasting longer than 60 seconds and uses oxygen whereas the anaerobic system is for activities lasting less than 10 seconds and are typically high intensity such as an Olympic weight lifter performing a clean and jerk or a running back charging through the defensive line. While you might not think of the golf swing as having anything in common with football, it is an explosive movement that uses the same anaerobic energy system. This is where creatine comes in.

ATP

The main energy source for quick bursts of action is produced by ATP or adenosine triphosphate in the mitochondria of our cells. When ATP is used phosphate is lost and it becomes ADP which is not able to provide that same quick burst of energy. Creatine can recharge the ADP back to ATP which can then be used again to perform a quick burst of activity. In short, the more creatine the muscles have to use the more ATP your muscles will have available to them to continue training or performing your respective sport.

You still think this doesn’t relate to golf but play in a 4-day tournament where you are taking 100s of swings and you will realize that golf is much more taxing to the body than you might think. All things being equal the golfer who can swing at the same level of intensity on day 4 as he/she did on day 1 will outperform the golfer who fatigues as the tournament progresses. In a game where one stroke can mean the difference between winning and losing this can make a big difference. Even if we are to completely ignore the benefits that are gained during a round of golf or throughout a tournament that creatine can provide the main benefits are probably going to come with the increase in strength and muscle mass you will gain when training off the golf course –which you should be doing if you are not already. If you are training hard to gain strength and muscle mass which can have one of the biggest impacts on improving your golf game then adding creatine to the mix can give you an extra boost to your recovery, strength, and size.

ATP cycle

What the Research says

In a study titled: Effects of a dietary supplement on golf drive distance and functional indices of golf performance by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 1 the researchers split a group of golfers into two groups. One was a placebo group and the other group used a supplement called long drive which consisted of: creatine monohydrate, coffea arabica fruit extract, calcium fructoborate and vitamin D. They followed these golfers for 30 days and compared total drive distance as well as average drive distance.

The results were that the group which took the golf supplement containing creatine had an increase in best total drive distance by 13.6 yards and an increase in average drive distance of 19.6 yards. The placebo group did not demonstrate any improvements. That is an astounding difference. An increase of almost 20 yards of average drive distance in just 30 days by taking a supplement containing creatine is about the easiest thing you can do to hit the ball farther.

Best Driver Distance (Yards)

In the chart below the black bars are the placebo control group who did not demonstrate any improvement in their best driver distance whereas the bar in white represents the control group who used a supplement containing creatine and improved their best driver distance by an average of 13.6 yards.

How to take?

Creatine works by building up in your system which can take up to 4 weeks. It does not matter what time of day you take your creatine just make sure to be consistent and take it daily. Also, be sure to be following the directions for the specific creatine you bought and try to get 5 g per day.

To Load or not to Load?

If you would like to start getting the benefits of creatine as quickly as possible and not wait the full 4 weeks for it to build up in your muscles you can do what is called loading. To do this you will consume 20 g of creatine per day for 1 week and then drop down to 5 g indefinitely. This will saturate the muscles with creatine more quickly, however in my opinion it really won’t make a huge difference in the long run if you choose to load or not so this is a personal preference.

Different types of creatine

If you begin to look up creatine to buy you will quickly become overwhelmed with the seemingly endless different types of creatine to choose from. The main and most common form of creatine is good old creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is also what was used for almost all of the research which has been done on creatine. One of the main disadvantages of creatine monohydrate is that it can cause stomach bloating and discomfort. Micronized creatine is the same thing however cut up into smaller pieces which makes it easier to absorb and decreases the negative effects such as bloating. Below are my recommendations for the best creatine you can buy.

Creatine Monohydrate

Optimum Nutrition Micronized creatine powder: Optimum Nutrition is one of my favorite brands as they are a no-nonsense company that doesn’t make false advertisements such as “take this supplement and gain 30 pounds of muscle in 1 month”. Their creatine monohydrate is 100% pure micronized creatine and is unflavored. Just mix it with water or your favorite flavored drink and you are good to go. While the price may be high for one jug remember you are getting a lot of servings that will last you several months. This is also micronized creatine monohydrate so you are getting all of the advantages of one of the most researched sports supplements without the drawbacks of stomach bloating or discomfort.

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder


You can also buy it in pill form which does make consuming it quite a bit easier.

Creatine HCL

Promera Sports Concret: This is the flagship product for creatine HCL with the company’s patented creatine HCL. It comes in unflavored as well as Lemon-lime, Pineapple, or Raspberry. It is more expensive than regular creatine monohydrate but may cause less bloating and potentially be more effective however more research is needed. My recommendation would be to stick with monohydrate unless you have digestive issues or you do end up having adverse stomach reactions to monohydrate.

Promera Sports Concret

This also comes in pill form to make it even easier to take.

All inclusive recovery supplement

This supplement should only be taken by those who are performing resistance training consistently. It is an all-inclusive recovery supplement that not only contains creatine but a host of other recovery-boosting ingredients. It is expensive however if you are in the offseason and looking to add on some extra pounds while lifting heavy it can be worth it. I have personally used this product and had very good results. Again if you are not active and performing some type of resistance or similar exercise you will be wasting your money buying this so keep that in mind.

BSN CellMass 2.0

Summary

While creatine won’t shave off 10 strokes from your handicap nor will it suddenly have you blasting 350 yard drives it can add a noticeable boost to your endurance, strength, and ability to recover. With a solid fitness and diet plan, the inclusion of creatine in your golf supplementation could improve your golf game. It is a staple in athletes’ supplement plans around the world, is inexpensive, and has the research to back up its performance gains. You would be foolish to not at least give it a try.

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If you are training hard on the golf course and in the gym make sure you read this article Do you need Protein for Golf? on whether or not protein is important for the golfer.

Citations

  1. Ziegenfuss, T. N., Habowski, S. M., Lemieux, R., Sandrock, J. E., Kedia, A. W., Kerksick, C. M., & Lopez, H. L. (2015). Effects of a dietary supplement on golf drive distance and functional indices of golf performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition12(1), 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-014-0065-4

Disclaimer

Although I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy by profession, I am not your Physical Therapist nor am I a Medical Doctor. All content and information on this website are for informational purposes only, do not constitute medical advice, and do not establish any kind of patient-client relationship by your use of this website. A patient-client relationship with you is only formed after we have expressly entered into a written agreement with you that you have signed including our terms to represent you in a specific manner. Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any professional, legal, medical and financial, or tax-related decisions.

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