We here at The Loop are curious folk. Thus, when we gathered three golfers of varying skill levels to test how alcohol affects their game earlier this spring, we left unsatisfied. Sure, the test was a success, with ample data showing that distance and mid-range putting remain relatively consistent while accuracy takes a head-first plunge into the drunk tank. But we couldn’t help but wonder: How would marijuana impact your game by comparison?
To the answer that question, we packed our bags and headed for the sunny, free-lovin’ fairways of California, where weed, ganja, grass, Mary Jane, and Jeff Goldbloom (OK, we made that last one up) is not only legal, but an inextricable part of everyday life. Once there, we set up the same test: Three players—Jack, a high handicap, Scott, a mid handicap, and Willie, a low handicap—track their driving, approach play, and putting, only this time while consuming marijuana instead of alcohol. When the air cleared and the smoke settled, here’s what we found.
After undergoing a sobriety test by the on-site EMT, each player hit five drives, five approaches, and five putts in order to establish a baseline. As you can see, while distance does not always directly correlate with skill, iron accuracy does. Putting, meanwhile, is a free-for-all. Just ask the pros.
6 MILLIGRAMS THC
After one vape pen dosage—approximately 6 milligrams of THC—per player, distance jumped for Willie and Scott by 13 and 19 yards respectively, while approach accuracy diminished for everyone but Jack, who cited a “more relaxed” state of mind for his improvement. Putting accuracy also decreased by exactly 20% across the board. In layman’s terms, the results were consistent with what you might notice while playing Madden on your couch after smoking a joint: Reduced inhibition and a greater willingness to go for it—see the improved distance figures—as well as a small breakdown in fine motor control—see approach and putting accuracy (also why you just lateraled it to the other team when you meant to juke).
18 MILLIGRAMS THC
The second dosage was a double, bringing each player’s THC consumption to 18 milligrams. This seemed to be the sweet spot, with all three players improving on distance, two of three improving on approach accuracy, and two of three making four of five putts. Welcome to “The Zone,” gentlemen.
34 MILLIGRAMS THC
Putting the vape pens down, Willie, Scott, and Jack split a joint, upping their THC intake to approximately 34 milligrams per person. Driving remained up across the board when compared to sobriety (everyone is always motivated to crush one when the cameras are rolling), but marijuana-related fatigue started to creep in, with Jack claiming he was “too tired” for the iron accuracy test when it reared its ugly head once again. And ugly it was, with accuracy down an average of 35.3 feet from the 16 milligram figures. As high handicapper Chris so eloquently put it during our alcohol test, “putting continued to be putting.”
50 MILLIGRAMS THC
With 50 milligrams of THC in their systems, Willie, Scott, and Jack were more or less begging for the finish line. At this stage, the most important numbers were 8 1/2, 7, and 9—their answers to “how high are you on a scale of 1-10?” Driving distance for Willie and Jack plummeted (though Scott remained reasonably consistent), while iron accuracy and putting also continued their downward spiral. Jack also became fixated on the hitting the range picker, because obviously.
Like everything else in life, moderation is key. A little bit of marijuana—in this case, around 18 milligrams—can help to relax muscles and calm nerves, aiding distance and overall tee-to-green performance. Consume in excess of that, however, and focus, energy, hand-eye coordination, and munchies become major impediments. In the most general terms, marijuana use on the golf course reflected our experience with alcohol: A little goes a long way, but a little too much will have you playing from the wrong fairway for the rest of the afternoon.
NOTE: This test was performed in a state where recreational marijuana use is legal on a golf course that had given us express permission to smoke. Participants were provided with an Uber home. Try this in Georgia or Wisconsin, and you have equally fascinating sociological experiment on your hands, but we don’t recommend it.
By: Coleman Bentley, Golf Digest