Building Up a Cannabis-Infused Golf Game
Can cannabis improve your game and how does it effect players who consume?
For now, those who consume cannabis out in the open on the links are a select bunch. In a Morning Consult Poll taken last year, about 22% of all PGA/LPGA fans consumed cannabis, with 19% consuming CBD products. The only major sports fanbase with a lower percentave of consumers is major league baseball. A Golf.com poll which queried 52 PGA Tour players anonymously on the issue found that 20% had smoked pot or ingested edibles within the past year.
However, 57% of those pro golfers also believed that cannabis should be taken off the banned substance list. And there’s certainly no shortage of amateur players who have been consuming cannabis for years. As an LA county golfer told The Cannifornian shortly after cannabis was made legal in the state in 2016, “It’s been illegal all my life. That’s never stopped me. Sometimes when I stand over a putt and I’ve got the right buzz on, I just know I’m going to make the putt and stroke it so smooth. It will seem strange that it’s legal.”
But how much can it improve your golf game? And are there any places where a golfer can find others of like mind to play with? Thankfully, there are some pretty good answers to both of these questions.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT CANNABIS AND THE GOLF GAME
Three years ago, Golf Digest published an exploratory piece on the effect of cannabis on the golf game of three Californian golfers. After five initial drives, approaches and putts initially performed sober, the golfers vaped 6, 18, 34 and 50 mg of THC, and their comparable drives, approaches and putts were measured accordingly. Golf Digest found that the performance of each player peaked at 18 mg of THC. At that dosage, each golfer improved on their long-distance drives, and two bested their approach accuracy in comparison with their sober rounds. Further, two out of the three golfers sunk four out of five putts. However, once they began to increase their dosages, their games began to suffer. Fatigue began to set in at 34 mg, and approach distances suffered greatly for two of the three. Accuracy, distance and putting all took a nosedive in quality.
While this was hardly a scientific study with all variables accounted for, its observations do seem to echo a general consensus. A Reddit discussion thread on the topic of weed in the golf game found responses across the board regarding cannabis’s influence on their performance. “I worry even more about ball contact a lot more and the billion swings thoughts I usually have turn into a gazillion,” said one responder. “In other words, I can’t do it, but most of my playing partners say it relaxes them and helps.” Others said that it worked for them in casual rounds, but not in competition.
In pro competition, the PGA’s WADA-informed policies forbid a THC test reading above 150 nanograms per milliliter. Players like Matt Every and Robert Garrigus have faced months-long suspensions after testing positive and have lashed out at their treatment. “Anxiety is a real thing and the way I treat it… I treat it the healthiest way possible for my body. But WADA doesn't think so and the Tour goes by what WADA says. So it's really silly,” Every told NBC’s GolfPass. Silly or not, however, there continues to be cultural resistance to widespread use; as a comment on the GolfPass article reads, “There is no justification for pot to be allowed in the game of golf whether it is in the amateur or professional setting. Promoting this behavior goes against all programs [sic] intended to provide educational programs to instill the basis of building character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices.”
Since states have begun to legalize, the cannabis industry has gradually begun claiming its own chunk of the pitch. Hytiva®, for starters, co-sponsored the Electric Drive America golf tournament in Bear’s Best Las Vegas on November 5th with Gaudin Ford and Shelby America®, with proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada.
In addition, there’s any number of cannabis industry-centric golf tournaments, such as the Lemonhaze Cannabis Industry Executive Golf Invitational hosted at the Cascada golf course a month earlier, with people such as former NFL player Ricky Williams and MTV host Fab Five Freddy in attendance. The Fore-Twenty Golf Tournament, held at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon, bills itself as the “first cannabis golf tournament in the world. And Hit the Green Golf Tournament will be hosting a series of tournaments throughout the country, starting in February.
So whether you’re consuming to medicate for a physical condition or puffing on the turn to make the back nine go down a bit more smoothly, there’s a tribe out here for you. And it’s only going to grow greener over time.