Evidence based

CBD & Golf: Discover How CBD Could Improve Your Game

CBD’s become popular among all types of athletes. Here’s why this unique plant compound may be especially useful for golfers.

Article By
Thomas Wrona , posted 10 months ago

  • Table of Contents

CBD is the primary active ingredient in hemp. And it’s on the minds of many people these days — for good reason.

That’s because CBD’s health benefits are extraordinarily diverse; the science shows that CBD is anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and pro-homeostasis.  CBD is even beneficial for athletes.

But when it comes to athletes and how they might get help from CBD, one group often gets overlooked: golfers. Maybe that’s not surprising. After all, golf doesn’t come with the glaring dangers of downhill skiing or the obvious metabolic demands of pro cycling.

Yet golfing is also one of the most complex, repetitive, and mentally challenging sports out there. In their quest to improve, golfers of all skill levels often subject themselves to long hours of practice filled with challenging neuromuscular-based training.

As is the case with other types of athletes. CBD can help. It may give golfers the mental and physical boost they need to improve their skills — and lower their scores.

Wondering if CBD is right for you? If so, education should provide some clues. Here are 4 amazing qualities of CBD — qualities that also have the potential to improve your golf game.

  • Benefit #1: CBD Fights Inflammation
  • Benefit #2: CBD Supports Joint Health
  • Benefit #3: CBD Improves the Mind-Muscle Connection 
  • Benefit #4: CBD May Help You Get a Better Sleep

Benefit #1: CBD Fights Inflammation

CBD is powerfully anti-inflammatory. Unlike conventional anti-inflammatory medications, however, it’s also holistic.

That’s good, because a little bit of inflammation is actually beneficial (it helps signal to other parts of the body that it needs to repair). But too much — or too little — inflammation is not.

Left unchecked, chronically high inflammation may lead to pain, nerve damage, even deteriorating joint health. A person who (for whatever reason) doesn’t have enough inflammation in their body may fail to adapt to exercise and other stressors.

To really get things right, the competitive athlete needs to help their body walk this fine line, and golfers are no different. Just like other athletes, they routinely push past physical limitations…and that leaves their inflammation states in need of a little help. 

Take it from the man many consider to be the best golfer ever, Jack Nicklaus: “We just beat up our bodies…It’s why I gave up golf.”

Tiger Woods, the best golfer of modern times, has had a similar experience. In 2008 he recovered from knee surgery to barely win the US open, golfing through 19 extra holes of play-off ‘overtime’.

As the New York Times sarcastically reported, “all Woods had to do to win was shake off two months of inactivity — he had not walked 18 holes since having knee surgery in April — overcome lingering pain in his knee, [and] battle back from four double bogeys.”

If only Tiger had CBD back then.

Why? Because CBD seems to speed the recovery of injured bones and joints by ‘quieting down’ inflammation. Once inflammation subsides the compound even seems to help newer, healthier cells form so they can play a role in healing.

Let’s address inflammation first. We said CBD’s impacts on inflammation were holistic, but what does that mean?

It means CBD reduces chronic inflammation in the areas where it’s most needed.

CBD does this via its activation of the endocannabinoid system.

The ECS is highly selective; its receptors shift to populate different areas of the body depending on where they detect need. An increase in stomach pain can cause these receptors to accumulate within the gut lining; in an injured athlete, they’ll be packed into inflamed areas. [1]

And with increased receptor density comes enhanced binding affinity. In other words — the more attention the endocannabinoid system gives an area, the more attention CBD is able to give it, too!

Harnessing CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties is as simple as taking a few milligrams of the compound each day. Golfers can also add in the use of a quality CBD topical, or even a transdermal patch, to give problem areas specific relief.

Benefit #2: CBD Supports Joint Health

One of the best ‘side effects’ of reduced inflammation is improved joint health. For obvious reasons, a joint that’s not chronically inflamed will be able to keep itself strong and healthy.

Unfortunately, joint problems are something golfers seem to experience a lot of. According to Golf Digest: A lot of golfers are playing hurt. Not broken-bones hurt, but with things like tendonitis, sore muscles and arthritis. These aren’t flashy injuries, but they still can keep you off the course.”

CBD helps, both by reducing inflammation and other mechanisms. A 2015 study determined that it increased osteoblast activity; osteoblasts are new bone cells that factor into one’s recovery from breaks and fractures [2].

Healthy bones and joints contain plenty of healthy collagen, too. CBD may even help the intricate collagen networks within post-injury bones link together — better and stronger than they were before.

As cannabis expert Allen Frankel says, “here is one more great use of CBD for prevention of bone loss and help in restoring stronger bone after a fracture.”

Of course, you’re free to use CBD before an injury happens — not just after it!

Bones have to renew and regenerate themselves daily to stay healthy in the first place, and CBD can be used for this, too. It’s hugely useful as a preventative measure; for golfers, that means it could help them avoid “golfer’s elbow” and other wear-and-tear conditions.

Another benefit, this one more indirect: CBD’s ability to improve fat-burning means it could help you keep moving. Motion, particularly the type of motion from low-impact exercises like golf, could help maintain strength and health in your joints. 

Benefit #3: CBD Improves the Mind-Muscle Connection  

Golfers may have the most advanced mind-muscle connection of any type of athlete. Just think about it: their sport involves nearly endless practice and near-constant refinement to technique.

In the scientific world, this connection is called neuromuscular coordination. As you might expect from the term’s prefix, it involves huge amounts of neurons…and is especially taxing on the nervous system.

Did you know that the nervous system is exactly where CBD does much of its best work? The endocannabinoid receptors it binds to are found in greatest concentration within the brain and spinal cord, and the neurotransmitters it influences work mostly within the central nervous system.

Studies are already showing that cannabinoids may be able to treat movement disorders — could they be used to address movement optimization, too? [3]

After all, endocannabinoid type-2 receptors activated by CBD have been shown to influence motor neurons within the brain’s basal ganglia. [4] The theoretical evidence here only gets more complex…so we’ll just say it appears likely.

CBD may help with the more general mind-body connection, too. Harvard researchers have called the endocannabinoid system it helps regulate “a literal bridge between body and mind”.

This type of awareness relates closely to something called proprioception, and it’s very important for golfers.

Studies suggest that golfing may improve proprioceptive health, or the ability to sense one’s physical position within space [5]…on the flipside, proprioceptive health is critical to improving something as complex as the golf swing.

Here’s some advice from the experts at Golfer’s Digest, again:

“Proprioception is inherent, however it can be improved upon—especially when trying to perform a sophisticated activity like swinging a golf club…[which] requires good proprioception because it’s impossible to watch the movements of every body part involved and watch the ball.”

Are you seeing CBD’s potential here?

CBD > A healthier endocannabinoid system > better proprioception > a better golf swing

And with a better golf swing comes less wear on the joints and reduced risk of injury. Experience fewer injuries, and you’ll have more time to practice. Talk about a positive feedback loop!

Benefit # 4: CBD May Help You Get a Better Sleep

CBD-induced reductions in inflammation we mentioned earlier lead to other benefits. The biggest one that’s not entirely obvious? Better sleep.

PGA-level golfers are fascinated with this, according to a recent ESPN article. Number-one ranked pro Scott McCarron’s been taking the plant compound since 2018, when a sample CBD product given to him tangibly improved his sleep.

Maybe ‘improved’ is an understatement. McCarron’s sleep quality was transformed — as verified by a WHOOP sleep device, Scott had his first consecutive week of “fantastic” sleep in two years.

Fellow pro Bubba Watson experienced the same thing. For him, CBD’s sleep-promoting qualities made its use a “no-brainer”.

CBD is fully legal within the United States — and within the PGA (Professional Golfer’s Association).

Though CBD was considered taboo for golfers of earlier years, that’s all changing.

In a recent statement the PGA recognized CBD’s legality, while also (rightly!) warning golfers that there’s little FDA guidance within today’s CBD industry, so players need to be confident in the quality of any CBD oil they put in their bodies.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been more welcoming of CBD recently, too. They just removed CBD from their list of banned substances, and other organizations have followed suit. Only a few US-based organizations are holding out.

CBD For the Pros, CBD For All!

In light of all this, it’s not surprising that CBD is becoming so popular among the world’s best golfers. Here’s just a short list of players who are now using and advocating for CBD:

  • Scott McCarron
  • Bubba Watson
  • David Toms
  • Vaughn Taylor
  • DJ Trahan
  • Kenny Perry
  • Tom Kite
  • Scott Piercy

Keep in mind that many other pro golfers use CBD, they’re just less vocal about it. A company called Functional Remedies has about 50 PGA Champions Tour golfers using their CBD line and Medterra has been signing PGA golfers to their sponsorship roster as well.

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It’s safe to assume the grand total of golf pros using CBD must be pretty high.

Could diligent CBD use be the way to improve your personal golf game? Possibly so. You might already be emulating the pros and their training methods in other areas — employing their new favorite nutraceutical could be the logical next step.

Here’s another quote from Jack Nicklaus: “Professional golfers condition to play golf; amateur golfers play golf to condition.”

And CBD is a great way to condition both body and mind…en route to helping you play your greatest golf ever. 


  1. Kimball, E., Wallace, N., Schneider, C., D’Andrea, M., Hornby, P. (2010). Small intestinal cannabinoid receptor changes following a single colonic insult with oil of mustard in mice. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 19 November 2010.
  2. Kogan, N. M., Melamed, E., Wasserman, E., Raphael, B., Breuer, A., Stok, K. S., … & Friedlander‐Barenboim, S. (2015). Cannabidiol, a Major Non‐Psychotropic Cannabis Constituent Enhances Fracture Healing and Stimulates Lysyl Hydroxylase Activity in Osteoblasts. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 30(10), 1905-1913.
  3. Kluger, B., Triolo, P., Jones, W., Jankovic, J. (2015). The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids for Movement Disorders. Movement Disorders : Official Journal of The Movement Disorder Society, 30(3): 313–327.
  4. Sierra, S., Luquin, N., Rico AJ., Gómez-Bautista, V., Roda, E., Dopeso-Reyes. IG., Vázquez, A., Martínez-Pinilla, E., Labandeira-García, JL., Franco. R., Lanciego, JL. (2015). Detection of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 within basal ganglia output neurons in macaques: changes following experimental parkinsonism. Brain Structure and Function, 220(5):2721-38
  5. Murray, A.D., Daines, L., Archibald, D., Hawkes, A., Schiphorst, C., Kelly, P., Grant, Mutrie, N. (2017). The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 51(1): 12–19.

Further reading

Further reading