2006: La Costa, Pinehurst catch fitness bug

When two famous American golf resorts make a firm commitment to teaching golf fitness in 2006

– introducing flexibility and strength instruction specifically for golfers – there is little doubt that a trend has begun.

La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., and Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort are known for their spas and their athletic training facilities. In 1965, La Costa became the first resort in the United States to offer a full-service spa. In 2000, a year after it hosted its first U.S. Open, Pinehurst opened a 33,000-square-foot spa.

Recently, the two resorts have taken definitive steps to attract fitness-conscious golfers. La Costa teamed with stretching expert Roger Fredericks to become the new home of the Roger Fredericks Golf Swing Flexibility Program. Pinehurst, in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, built a new fitness lab and plans to conduct 10 golf fitness schools in 2006.

There is no connection between La Costa (www.lacosta.com) and Pinehurst (www.pinehurst.com). La Costa is owned by KSL Resorts, while Pinehurst is owned by ClubCorp. Acting independently, they assessed the current golf climate and decided that golfers want additional physical training.

The fundamental belief of golf fitness advocates, as expressed by Fredericks, can be summed up in one sentence: “Your body is your swing.”

Fredericks, who is Arnold Palmer’s friend and flexibility instructor, has enjoyed phenomenal success with a three-DVD series being sold primarily through an infomercial and a Web site (www.fredericksgolf.com).

“Roger has the whole package,” said Jeremy McCarthy, spa director at La Costa. “He teaches the golf swing, he teaches flexibility and strength, and he knows how to combine the two.”

Added Pinehurst director of golf Matt Massei: “Fitness is becoming an accepted part of golf. We have two physical therapists on staff full time. They do their assessments and take that information to the golf instructor. The two talk about what the best program would be for each individual student.”

To meet the changing needs of golfers, Pinehurst decided to conduct 10 Golf Advantage Fitness Schools during the upcoming season. Pinehurst has been exceptionally innovative with its golf schools, even offering women-only schools with an added emphasis on proper nutrition.

“We’re really excited,” Massei said. “The whole idea is to help people improve, and we believe that’s what we are doing.”

La Costa has been equally quick to respond to student needs. It is the site of the original Chopra Center, named after author and lecturer Deepak Chopra and designed to focus on meditation and the entire landscape of health and wellness.

La Costa built a fitness lab for the measurement and assessment of golfers and other athletes. It opened an 8,000-square-foot athletic club in 2002. It has its own physical therapists.

Yoga is a La Costa specialty, with several different yoga disciplines taught on a regular basis. Pilates also is on the La Costa menu, along with plyometrics, aerobics, spinning and other exercise routines.

“A decade ago, if you heard somebody was doing yoga or Pilates, you might think they were some kind of freak,” McCarthy said.

“Now they have become more and more mainstream, and we have many golfers here who love yoga and Pilates.”

Fredericks became the key to tying it all together at La Costa. A PGA professional as well as a fitness expert, he offers group and individual instruction.

“In my golf schools, I combine physical training and swing training,” Fredericks said. “A better body and a better swing go hand in hand, so improved flexibility will mean an improved swing in most cases.”

Golfers leave a Fredericks school with personalized routines for exercise and golf.

Fredericks points out that our modern lifestyle has created poor posture and weak muscles for many golfers. Sitting at desks and riding in cars have contributed to tight hip flexors, leading to a body imbalance that can be extremely detrimental to golfers.

Palmer is a big fan of Fredericks’ program.

“I wish somebody had explained this to me 20 or 30 years ago,” Palmer said. “It has made a big difference. I notice of lot of little things in my daily life – things that were hard to do, like getting up off the floor – are a lot easier now.”

Destinations such as La Costa and Pinehurst could be viewed as inaugurating a new concept in golf vacations: Play and practice golf, tune your body and walk away with a golf fitness regimen that can be followed for the rest of your life.

In this sense, it is the golf vacation that never ends.



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