CBD is growing in popularity amongst the golfing community, with many high-profile professional golfers speaking publicly about how they use the compound to improve their game.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the primary compounds extracted from cannabis and hemp plants.
Although THC, CBD’s psychoactive counterpart, is a banned substance on the Professional Golf Association’s Tour, CBD has been allowed since 2018.
With its calming and pain-reducing effects, it’s no wonder that professional golfers are incorporating the compound into their daily lives. The professionals that openly use CBD cite heightened focus, improved sleep and better injury and post-workout recovery as some of the main reasons they use the supplement.
Inflammation is a common issue experienced by golfers. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, many professional players see CBD as a natural and safer alternative to pain pills and have turned to the supplement for dealing with the aches and pains that come from an intense training schedule.
CBD is also used by some golfers to relive anxiety; a common issue amongst the amateur golfing community. Many advocates say CBD keeps game performance anxiety, also known as “first-tee jitters”, under control.
Due to its association with cannabis, CBD holds a certain level of stigma, however in recent years, an increasing number of pros have begun to sing the praises of CBD. In some cases, this has led to signed endorsement and sponsorship deals with brands including cbdMD, Beam and Functional Remedies.
Speaking to Golf Digest, Anthony Mazzotti, CEO of Functional Remedies, said: “What many don’t realize is the incredible mental and physical strain pro golfers endure practicing and competing day after day and year after year.”
American professional golfer, Billy Horschel claims CBD products helped him return to form after several months of poor performances in 2019. He has since invested in the Boston-based CBD company, Beam.
Fellow tour golfer, Bubba Watson is also amongst the game’s most vocal proponents for the benefits of CBD, calling it a “no brainer”. In an interview with CNN, he said: “I see Phil Mickelson winning at 48, so I've got at least eight more years of having a shot of winning some tournaments. For me it was about how I create longevity in the game of golf and spending time with my kids running around. CBD was easily a fit for me."
Although the substance is no longer prohibited by the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program, the organisation has warned tour players of the risk that CBD products they consume may contain THC due to the lack of government regulation within the supplements industry.
A 2017 study from the American Medical Association found that over two thirds of CBD products contained levels of CBD that differed from the label and THC was found in in just over one fifth of these products. This could prove problematic for a tour player as any level of THC can lead to a failed drug test.
Members of the industry, including executive director of the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program Andy Levinson, believe the growing popularity of CBD is merely a fad.
He told Golf Digest: “You see this a lot in the supplement industry. There’s some buzz around something, and everybody tries it, and they might stick to it for a while, but generally a lot of times it fades away.”
However, the pro golfers who use CBD disagree. Scott McCarron is a well-known endorser for CBD products who believes the PGA should be “a little bit more behind it”.
Speaking to New York Times, McCarron said: “They say, ‘well, it’s just a fad.’ But this stuff works.”