Best CBD For Golf – Our Review Of The Best Products On The Market PGA and Champions Tour players have become more vocal about using CBD to treat their ailments since the compound was removed from banned substances list in 2018. What was once taboo is becoming wildly popular. From gum to eye droppers, CBD oil is becoming as common in professional golf bags as tees and ball markers.
Best CBD For Golf
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Walk past a pharmacy and it’s quite possible that you’ll see a Cannabidiol (CBD) product displayed.
CBD is used to treat pain, anxiety and sleep disorder, as well as a wide range of medical conditions and illnesses.
It is derived directly from the hemp plant, and whilst it’s a component of marijuana, it’s the legal part of the cannabis plant, and by itself does not cause a high.
As well as occupying a prominent spot on the shelf in your local pharmacy, it’s also finding its way into golf pro shops.
Well, there’s growing evidence to suggest that it can help your golf game – and a number of professional golfers do use it.
Of course, taking CBD is not going to stop you from missing putts, but it can improve your sleep, and the calming effect that it offers might just help your golf game.
We have been testing a range of products over the past year – so here’s our guide to the best CBD for golf.
If you’re interested in those marginal gains, you may also want to view the 10 best supplement and sports nutrition products for golf.
Best CBD For Golf
Golfer’s CBD Gummies
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Golfer’s CBD has created a range of products, including edibles (gummy bears), which work by focusing on the receptors that affect the golfer’s emotions, mindset and reaction to events.
The gummies are the brand’s best-selling product – and it’s easy to understand why.
Some people might not like the idea of having ‘sweets’, but they are easy to consume during or before your round.
Golfer’s CBD recommends taking up to four before you play, and then a couple more over the course of a round (maximum seven a day).
Of course, it means you can end up spending a fair bit of money, so it’s about establishing whether any performance benefits make it a worthwhile cost.
In other words, what price do you put on those potential marginal gains on the golf course?
Darren Clarke CBD Oils
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Available in two flavours, we opted to try forest fruits over precision orange, and we started with the 1,000mg bottle – the weaker of the two strengths available – as it was a first-time experience.
We weren’t recovering from injury, so we followed the recommended advice of taking one full pipette (1ml) an hour before playing golf in the hope it would keep us loose and relaxed from start to finish.
On days away from the course, we took the full dosage before bed to see if it improved our quality of sleep.
And here’s what we found.
The user was pleasantly surprised to find mood and concentration levels improved while taking a pre-round ‘hit’.
As a Whoop user, when taking CBD before bed, it was revealed that there were less disturbances through the night and the amount of deep and REM sleep increased, on average, too.
Our testing window was quite short, so perhaps more time is required with the product to improve the reliability of these findings, but they were interesting nonetheless.
One thing we should point out is that the usual soreness the user felt after golf persisted.
More continued use would enable us to produce more in-depth findings, but overall there was enough there for us to deduce that it would be a worthwhile investment for those looking to play the game for as long as possible and improve their general quality of life.
Golfers Embrace CBD, Even as Its Gentility Is Questioned
PGA and Champions Tour players have become more vocal about using CBD to treat their ailments since the compound was removed from banned substances list in 2018.
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Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion and an investor in a CBD company, thinks the stigma over using the compound is changing. “That weed-smoking image that is out there just because people haven’t had the correct information is being torn down,” he said. Credit. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Billy Horschel went six months without a top-eight finish last year before he found a remedy for his ailing golf game from a surprising source: the hemp plant. Horschel, a five-time PGA Tour winner, began using cannabidiol, or CBD, products shortly after he missed the cut at the British Open in July. He had four top-eight finishes in the next four months and was playing some of the most consistent golf of his career before the season was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, is convinced that the CBD-infused topical creams and powders produced by the company Beam have contributed to his return to top form by increasing his quality of sleep and decreasing inflammation in his knees and ankles. So bullish is Horschel on the products, he recently became an investor in Beam.
He is the latest in a growing group of tour members, including Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters champion, and Scott McCarron, the reigning Schwab Cup winner on the Champions Tour, who are paid endorsers for CBD products. Their advocacy would appear to signal a growing acceptance of CBD use in the conservative world of professional golf, which has been slow to distinguish between recreational and medicinal use of marijuana-derived products. The chemical compound, which is used to treat a variety of ailments from pain and inflammation to anxiety and seizure disorders, has been legal for golfers to use since the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances in 2018.
But allowing its use is not the same as endorsing it. Tour officials last year warned players that they risked failing a drug test if they used CBD products, because they are subjected to limited government regulation and may contain THC, the psychoactive compound of cannabis that is prohibited. The tour’s antidoping policy lists cannabis with drugs of abuse like cocaine, and so Horschel initially shied away from CBD products for fear of failing a drug test and gaining a reputation as a stoner, besmirching the tour’s refined image.
“There’s still not enough correct information out there,” Horschel said in a recent interview, “but that weed-smoking image that is out there just because people haven’t had the correct information is being torn down.”
In the past year, two players, Robert Garrigus and Matt Every, have served 12-week suspensions after failing tournament-week drug tests for THC. They both said they had been prescribed marijuana for medical purposes in states where it is legal, their impassioned defenses driving home the general perception in the men’s game that nothing, not even a performance-enhancing drug violation, splinters the tour’s genteel veneer more than a failed test for a so-called drug of abuse, even if the drug is obtained legally.
Garrigus was particularly vocal about the tour’s drug policy, which allows players to apply for therapeutic-use exemptions for prescribed painkillers but seldom approves exemptions for marijuana.
“The fact that it is socially unacceptable for cannabis and CBD right now blows my mind,” Garrigus said. “It’s OK to take OxyContin and black out and run into a bunch of people, but you can’t take CBD and THC without someone looking at you funny. It makes no sense.”
McCarron said he first heard about CBD from his wife, Jenny, a competitive triathlete, who read about its use among athletes in her sport. “The PGA Tour does not want to own it so much,” McCarron said. “They say, ‘Well, it’s just a fad.’ But this stuff works.”
Andy Levinson, who oversees the tour’s antidoping program, which is conducted during tournament weeks, cited the lack of regulation of CBD products as a concern. He pointed last year to a 2017 study conducted by the American Medical Association that found THC in more than a fifth of the CBD products being sold online that it tested.
“There is no guarantee that what is on the label is what is contained in the product,” he said.
Levinson’s warning gave Horschel pause, which is why he chose a company, he said, that subjects its products to three independent tests to make sure they are THC-free.
Horschel said he had been drug-tested twice in tournament weeks since he started using the product. He said he was more concerned that the Claritin-D tablets he takes for his allergies would trigger a positive test than his CBD use.
Scott McCarron, the reigning Schwab Cup winner on the Champions Tour, is a paid endorser for CBD products. Credit. Stacy Revere/Getty Images
For players who traverse time zones regularly and routinely finish rounds at dinnertime on one day and then tee off early the next morning, subpar sleep is virtually an occupational hazard. Horschel said that when he had an afternoon tee time, followed the next day by an early-morning round, he might get only four hours of sleep because he would have so much adrenaline in his system after his late finish.
“It would take me so long to calm down and to sort of shut my brain down,” Horschel said. Beam’s sleep product “has been a massive help for that,” he added.
The way McCarron sees it, the players are better off taking CBD products than a prescription drug. “Ambien, Xanax, any of those drugs are so bad for you,” McCarron said after last season’s season finale on the Champions Tour, where the players are more open about their CBD use, their chronic aches and pains caused by decades of wear and tear on their bodies perhaps emboldening them to speak. Referring to CBD, McCarron continued: “Why not promote it? I wish the tour would be a little more behind it.”
A CBD company, CV Sciences Inc., was an official sponsor of the tour stop in San Diego in January, and the products have gained plenty of unofficial exposure. When Phil Mickelson, a five-time major champion, began chewing gum during competitive rounds last year, he set off widespread rumors that he was chewing CBD gum, a position that McCarron maintains. “Tiger? Yeah, he’s chewing it,” McCarron said. “Phil? He’s chewing it.”
The speculation intensified during the second round of last year’s Masters when Mickelson was caught on TV squirting a liquid into his mouth using an eye dropper while waiting to hit a shot. Tiger Woods chewed gum all week on his way to the title, explaining afterward that it helped curb his appetite. If CBD gum was what Woods was chewing — he declined to say — he had ample reason for not wanting to unnecessarily confuse the public, which might recall that when Woods was arrested on a D.U.I. charge in 2017, he had THC in his system.
Mickelson, who won his 44th tour title last year at age 48, said the gum he had been chewing was infused with caffeine, not CBD. “The rumors that I am involved in any capacity with CBD is not true,” he said in a text message. “It’s something I’ve looked into. I did try it, but I’m not using it now.”
Before the season was suspended, Horschel had an ankle tendon injury that he treated with a CBD-infused cream, which allowed him to play on without pain. “It allows you to recover better and get over aches in a more natural way,” he said.
There is only one treatment for aches and pains that’s better, Horschel said, and that’s the one that has been forced on all the players during the past two months: rest.
Golf’s not-so-secret fascination with CBD oil
When Scott McCarron returned to his locker after a round in the 2018 Boca Raton Invitational, a bottle of CBD oil pills had been placed in the cubby by Functional Remedies EndoSport. It’s not unusual for professional golfers to have various products given to them to sample, but this one in particular was intriguing to the No. 1-ranked player on the PGA Champions Tour.
McCarron didn’t know a great deal about CBD oil, but he knew enough from research and talking to other athletes who had taken cannabidiol (CBD), a supplement derived from the hemp plant, to realize that it might be able to help with some of his ailments.
“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.”
McCarron has now been using the products for nearly two years and is among a growing list of PGA Champions Tour players using CBD oil for various reasons, including sleep, recovery, anxiety and inflammation. Through word of mouth of the perceived benefits, the products have spread on the Champions Tour.
Despite its open popularity among the senior players, it has taken longer to surface as an acceptable practice to discuss publicly with the PGA Tour players. That is rapidly changing, though, as the perception of and education about the product are growing as well.
What used to be a taboo topic, and a product quite a few players on the Tour were using but were reluctant to talk about, has become a growing industry — now diving into sponsorships and ambassador programs with high-profile players from both tours, including McCarron, Bubba Watson, David Toms, Vaughn Taylor, DJ Trahan, Kenny Perry, Tom Kite and Scott Piercy, among others.
Part of the reason CBD oil has been more popular early on in the Champions Tour is because the players are older, with rapidly changing bodies, and are looking for ways to continue competing at a high level with their grueling schedules.
A big reason the senior players are more open to discussing CBD use than their younger counterparts on the PGA Tour, however, is because they are not drug-tested in the same way as the under-50 crowd on the PGA Tour.
CBD is derived from the hemp plant, which is a strain of cannabis, but it is grown and used to make the products because it typically contains less THC, the psychoactive ingredient that causes a high, than the marijuana plant.
Scott McCarron said CBD oil has changed his sleep, improving it. He sees the benefits other Tour pros are now seeing, too. AP photo/Nam Y. Huh
THC is a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and because the CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, there is a level of uncertainty about what is actually in the product. It raises questions about whether the THC levels are low enough to keep the Tour players from failing a drug test and if the listed ingredients are actually what make up the CBD oil.
“I think everybody [on the Tour] was taking a wait-and-see approach,” McCarron said. “They want to make sure it is legal and there is nothing in it. One of the things with the Tour, to their credit, they put out a statement saying it’s not illegal to take this substance, but you better make sure you know what’s in it.
“There’s so many CBD companies out there right now, that you might not know what’s in it. So if you’re on the PGA Tour, you better do your homework and make sure there’s nothing in it that can give you a positive test.”
That’s why Steve Patterson, the director of sales at Functional Remedies EndoSport, was apprehensive at first about whether the Tour players would accept it when the company decided to go beyond the Champions Tour in the fall of 2018.
The company now has 50 players on the Tour who are using their products, which include a salve to rub on the skin, oil to take orally and pills.
“The players are comfortable with a low THC count. That was the main thing I had a hesitancy about, what is their response to putting something in their bodies that’s new. ” Patterson said. “But it’s also a natural product, so then word of mouth, it really took off. That’s where the popularity and acceptance has come in.”
The PGA Tour’s stance on CBD, according to Andy Levinson, the senior vice president of tournament administration, is that it falls under the same category as permitted supplements. The Tour warns its players that any supplement is to be taken at their own risk and that there are potential pitfalls to taking products that could contain ingredients not listed on the package.
“There’s very, very little FDA regulation over the supplement industry as a whole, so if a player wants to take any supplements, whether it’s CBD, or a multivitamin, or a protein powder, they need to understand that there is risk associated with that regardless of the manufacturer, because there is very little FDA regulation over the industry,” Levinson said. “There is no guarantee that what is on the label is actually contained in the product.”
Because the CBD products are considered supplements and not a drug, the manufacturers are not allowed to make any medicinal claims of benefits, either. The players have noted that they have seen improvements in sleep, recovery, anxiety and focus, and that’s where the word-of-mouth testimonials have benefited the companies.
Those testimonials started to spread quietly, as more and more players were using the products but were still mainly unwilling to talk about it publicly — until some bigger names came out and openly endorsed a few products.
The biggest was Bubba Watson, who announced a partnership with cbdMD in April and displays the company’s logo on both sides of his visor in tournament play.
Similar to Functional Remedies, cbdMD manufactures its own products, which allows it to monitor the THC levels, and it gave Watson a level of comfort to openly use the products.
“Just because of, I’m getting older,” Watson told TheStreet. “The inflammation in my body, waking up with better sleep. That was the two things I focused on. With a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old at the house, and playing golf all day, I needed some energy fast.
“For me, it was all about sleep and trying to get the body right.”
There are still misconceptions about the products that have made some Tour players hesitate to publicly announce they use CBD oil in any form. For example, the product is derived from hemp, not marijuana. Also, hemp is produced for high CBD content and marijuana for high THC content.
That’s the challenge some companies are still facing. But as more and more players are seeing an impact with the natural remedy, more golfers are willing to use it. And as education about the products continues to spread, and as the companies are doing more to ensure they meet the standards for each sport’s governing body, that hesitancy is likely to fall as well.
“We’re also working on getting what is called NSF for sports certification. Once we get it, we’ll be in baseball in particular, because those guys are so paranoid about putting anything in their body,” Patterson said. “But once you get the certification, it’s basically a vetting process. When you have the logo, players know that your products are safe, they’re not contaminated, and they feel comfortable taking them.”
Levinson is quick to note that no cannabis product has NSF certification for sports, but he says that if a company were able to obtain it, that is considered the gold standard by the PGA Tour in terms of consistency and knowing what is in the product.
It would be a vote of confidence for the brand to achieve the certification, and the PGA Tour only considers supplements that are NSF-certified for sports for any marketing partnerships or business-related relationships, let alone recommending them for players.
“The risk here [currently] is that you really don’t know what’s in a product,” Levinson said. “Taking a supplement that you really don’t know what’s in it may or may not be better for you. There’s no substantive science behind the claimed benefits of these products, whether it’s inflammation or anti-anxiety, or what have you.
“Without FDA regulation, a lot of these companies are able to make these pretty broad claims about the health benefits without any science behind it whatsoever.”
McCarron was comfortable using the product before many others were and didn’t need the certification or studies after doing his own research. He acknowledges the lack of long-term studies on effects and impact CBD oil can have, but he has also seen the effects of other medicines and remedies his fellow professional golfers have used to help heal their bodies and minds.
Players using Ambien to sleep and ibuprofen to control their pain are now turning to CBD products as a more natural way to feel relief.
“You would take Advil like candy sometimes, not knowing the effects or what it could do to your kidney and liver,” McCarron said. “I hardly take any anti-inflammatories anymore because I don’t feel like I need to. That’s a huge positive for athletes, because taking a little bit of Advil or Aleve, that’s fine, but if you’re dependent on it to function every day, that’s a problem.”
It’s a problem many athletes face, including golfers at every level.
McCarron even believes CBD could help the average golfer who deals with the anxiety that comes from playing the sport recreationally. Alcohol is the drug of choice for the everyday golfer, and McCarron thinks there is a borderline abuse issue stemming from golfers thinking they need to drink while playing to cut the anxiety.
Naturally, the products are being aimed at the average golfer as well. Functional Remedies is now selling its products in 125 golf shops, with 12 sales representatives selling to golf courses around the country.
Stress and anxiousness are amplified at the professional level, which is why some of the athletes are taking CBD.
“Between the mental focus and overall clarity necessary to play a solid round, golf is a challenging sport,” said cbdMD director of public relations Dillon Kivo. “That’s where CBD can come into play. Again, although research is still in the early stages, there seems to be support behind the idea that CBD can be utilized to help aid mental functions, as well as work to reduce overall stress. The idea is that CBD helps calm some of those intense bodily responses that may result in further health complications, all while working to naturally relax the mind and body.”
Those claims are still unfounded scientifically, but the proof may just be in how many golfers continue to get on board with using the products and openly touting how their bodies feel.
The Champions Tour might have been the guinea pig, but as the products are becoming more widely accepted, and as players gain more knowledge about what they’re putting into their bodies and the potential impact it could have on their performance and recovery, we are heading to a point where more and more Tour players will be comfortable publicly saying they are utilizing a form of CBD.
“What the perception was, when someone said CBD initially, [was] is it THC, is this marijuana, is it legal?” McCarron said. “I think there was a misconception of what it really was, a hemp oil. I think there was a lot of buzz about it, but people weren’t really sure. I wasn’t really sure what to think of it. But when you find out what’s really in it, what isn’t in it, that it’s natural and that the levels of THC are so minute, I think it’s going to continue to take off.”