‘The Ratho Diet’: Perpetual Golf

About two-thirds of the way through my two-month culinary residency at Ratho Farm in Tasmania, one of my co-workers remarked that I must be on the Ratho Diet, and said I should have taken a ‘before’ picture. He wasn’t the only one who commented on the dramatic physical side effects that came with my newfound addiction for golf.

Before I flew to Tasmania to cook and live at Australia’s oldest golf course in February and March, I’d been director of content for a PR firm and, since I telecommuted from a gravity chair in my living room, the only exercise I had been getting were walks that I sent myself on, and tennis, when I could drag my brother to the courts to play.

I was what you’d call “charity tournament ready” to play golf. Give me a riding cart and a cooler of adult beverages and I could laugh at myself through a round. Like a lot of people, I had expended far too many range balls on my driver, neglecting every other club from fairway wood to wedge. So, while I was reasonably good off the tee, I was wary-to-uncomfortable with every subsequent shot.

My predictable ping-ponging from the left rough to the right rough and back again was one thing when I was zooming between shots in a cart, but quite another once I was walking every hole.  I wrote to a friend of mine about my golfing journey a couple times and in a lazy blogger way I am going to steal from those two letters here:

Feb. 12

“And then there’s the sheep-shorn golf course, which is whipping me into physical shape just about as fast as an exercise routine can. Walking 9 holes every other day and playing four when I’m not playing 9 was literally painful at first. I would lie down and seriously have a hard time getting back up. But my body seems to finally be pushing through it now, and I’m feeling as fit as I have in my adult life. Golf game still 2-3 out of 10.”

About a month later I reported back again:

March 7

“As noted in my truncated letter from last time, I’ve been playing golf nearly every day and my game has started to pick up. I’m getting a lot more confident with my irons and my most frequent golfing partner, a spry 68-year-old Norwegian import named Magne, has seriously improved my approach shots with some tips. That and our weekly Tuesday morning sojourn to an all-par-three course in Bagdad, (which was named by an explorer who was also an Arabian Nights junkie.) This week I landed about two feet from the cup on a 160m hole. There were lots of people watching me hit it, too, because the course criss crosses a lot and a foursome was waiting to go across to their tee. Starting to get me a lady golfer rep here in the Tasmanian Highlands….

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All we need to do to solve the obesity epidemic is to make golf free and compulsory! My knees are a hell of a lot stronger, too. This has turned into a rehab for them that I never could match in physical therapy. Doing three sets of ten anything has always bored me to tears. But having a foursome waiting to tee off as I cross the fairway, albeit uphill with my golf trolley — that isn’t something you decide to do or choose not to. You just get your ass in gear.”
I had been on the keto (similar to paleo) diet just before I arrived, and if I’d stayed on it I would have lost even more weight. But I took the opportunity for a couple of cheat months; I was running a serious calorie deficit so I let myself have the occasional pizza and even beer, the carby-est of the no-nos for ketogenic eating. I had to jump back on keto once I came back, though. Gravity chair job hunting and blogging is a poor substitute for golfing every day!

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