SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It’s often said that golf teaches humility, which is a trait that will come in handy if you decide to spend 90 minutes in the gym with Steve Heller.
For the past 12 years, Heller has been pushing golfers to their physical limits in his Fore-Max classes at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Fore-Max is designed to prime golfers to play their best through a regimen that improves flexibility, balance, core strength, aerobic capacity and nutrition.
It’s a wake-up call for new students who think they can coast through Fore-Max training. Heller said that new students sometimes race outside to vomit after trying to keep pace with his high-speed treadmill.
There’s a point to this that goes beyond golf fitness. Heller, the Westin’s fitness director, believes that the training helps his students, including PGA Tour pros such as Ricky Barnes, cope with stress during competition.
“(Barnes’) heart rate will go up to 180 (during speed training) and then within a minute will be down to 115,” Heller said. “That translates to the golf course.”
Fore-Max is part of the Westin’s long and occasionally irreverent menu of services that complement the 27-hole Kierland Golf Club. These are AAA Four Diamond accommodations, stuffed shirts not included.
The resort has embraced the Scottish game, but with a modern twist. Players are offered kilts and have the option of riding Segways rather than traditional golf carts. I briefly contemplated doing both, but had visions of my kilt flying in the breeze, a la Marilyn Monroe, as I hover-crafted down the fairways on a Segway.
At Brittlebush Bar & Grill in the clubhouse, managing chef Graeme Blair, a Scotsman, has revamped the menu, adding Scottish favorites. At sunset, bagpiper Michael McClanathan serenades guests near the fire pit in the area known as Dreamweaver’s Canyon. Inside, David Kent, who directs the Westin’s beverage operations, walks guests through a scotch-tasting class.
Kent started with Talisker and progressed to the iconic Johnny Walker Blue, explaining how the flavor changes when drinking each neat, then adding a dash of water.
“By changing the way it smells,” Kent said, “it dramatically changes the way it tastes.”
His class has become a popular weekly staple. Check it out. If you’ve recently been worked over by Heller, a dram of scotch might come in handy.