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May 2019

Finding the Right Fit


Fitness Programs Fill Golf Travelers’ Needs

By Sally J. Sportsman

Gone are the days when golf required little more than equipment, a place to play and like-minded colleagues against whom to test one’s mettle. Tournament and professional play were and remain of a different caliber, to be sure, but until recent years, golf often was considered a diversion, especially among travelers, with varying degrees of serious intent.
Today, golf increasingly is recognized as a sport requiring preparation, fitness and endurance. Although walking remains more the exception than the rule at golf resorts across the U.S., facilities understand the desire – in many cases, the need – of travelers of all ages to continue their golf-fitness regimens while on the road. In response to this growing trend, many resorts are adding golf-specific fitness programs to their array of amenities in an effort to attract and retain guests.

Horseshoe Bay Resort: A Boost in Golf Fitness
“You can’t color everybody with the same brush,” says Bobby Steiner, director of golf instruction at Horseshoe Bay Resort, in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. “Each golfer will tell you what he needs.”

The three main elements Steiner focuses on in Fit for Golf, a personal training program he created, are balance, flexibility and core exercises. Golfers new to the program begin with a physical activity readiness questionnaire to assess skill level and prior experiences because avoiding injury is the priority.

The golf-fitness program at Horseshoe Bay Resort, started in December 2018, is recommended to guests as a way to enhance their playing experiences at the facility, which includes four golf courses. Plans include a ground breaking in May for a state-of-the-art teaching academy, scheduled to open this year, for members and guests. Steiner plans to submit a proposal to justify adding 600 square feet to the academy specifically for golf-fitness activities, making the case of the success of his current program.

“Many of our resort guests are in the 50-to-60-year age range and want to be fit to play golf,” Steiner says. “We get all kinds of groups, including conferences and business meetings.

“Out of every 50 guests, usually about 30 play golf and are interested in sharpening their fitness.”

Steiner tailors programs to suit each golfer’s individual needs, no matter how large the group. Many guests discover the golf-fitness program through the resort website, while others are directed to it by resort booking agents. Steiner finds that repeat guests often sign up for golf-fitness training on every visit.

Steiner’s fee is $125 per hour for a 90-minute session. He also offers a 90-minute yoga routine that can be condensed into 25 minutes of golf-specific stretching. Winter provides more opportunity for golf-centric training; Steiner is fully booked during the off-season. He works with players of all fitness levels, from those who have never exercised before to former collegiate athletes.

Last year, according to Steiner, 90 percent of golf lessons – including golf-fitness sessions – were taken by members of the resort, 10 percent by resort guests.
“With the super increase in golf fitness,” Steiner says, “I plan to emphasize and market it more to resort guests. I will raise that ratio to about 50-50.

“I believe we can incorporate many more resort guests into our golf-fitness program – 100 percent more than in the past.”

Sea Island Resort: A Multi-Faceted Golf-Fitness Program
While golf fitness may seem like a Johnny-come-lately phenomenon, Randy Myers has been focusing on it for 30 years. Now in his 15th year at Sea Island Resort, on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, Myers, director of golf fitness at Sea Island Performance Center, wrote his Master’s thesis in 1987 at Penn State University on golf exercise and fitness.

“I realized that every other sport had conditioning coaches, so I figured, why not golf?” Myers says, recalling his inspiration. “Golf has longevity potential for older adults, so I thought conditioning would be an opportunity that would grow – and sure enough, it did.”

Myers was inducted in November 2018 into the first class of the newly created World Golf Fitness Hall of Fame. He is the director of Nike Golf Performance Worldwide, was the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Team director of fitness and was a founding member of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), which is in use at Sea Island.

Many resort guests, aware that Myers trains a number of tour players and NCAA golf teams, return frequently to renew and refresh their golf-fitness routines as part of an à-la-carte menu selection – usually 40 minutes with Myers, then a round of golf, many times followed by a lesson.

Buddy golf trips and corporate groups often book fitness classes for 15 to 25 people consisting of a half-hour stretching session on the range before play.

“This is one of our most successful programs,” Myers says. “I do one hundred or more of them a year.” Some sessions have included three or four generations of a family together.

The cost of a golf-fitness session with Myers, including a take-home program, is $200 for half an hour, $300 for an hour, or $350 for three half-hours. Incentive packages, offering discounts for multiple fitness sessions, can be used throughout the year. Guests can purchase golf-fitness products, such as medicine balls, elastic tubing and stability tubing, on site to take home with them.

“Our golf-fitness program has increased exponentially every year,” Myers says, “accounting for five to 10 percent of our annual growth since 2004. More than fifty percent of our golf-fitness guests come back multiple times, which is why we are able to keep our business running so efficiently.” 

A new $30-million, 18,000-square-foot fitness-training facility at Sea Island Resort is five times larger than the old one, which is being decommissioned and turned into a cottage for guest stay.

“We expect everything – including golf-specific fitness training – to escalate even more now,” Myers says.

Destination Kohler: Sharpening Its Craft
At Destination Kohler, a golf resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, four championship courses attract players from all over the country. Jake Frias is the fitness manager of Sports Core, founded in 1979, located at the American Club hotel at Destination Kohler. Resort guests requesting individual golf-specific workouts are assigned a personal trainer who focuses on overall health and wellness in addition to golf-fitness activities. Staff members also work with some PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players.

“Word is out all around the resort about our golf-fitness training – in the restaurants and hotel rooms, on television and the website,” says Frias.

Sports Core, a standalone fitness facility, is a popular amenity with resort guests, many who return for fitness training with each subsequent visit.

“About 15 percent of our resort guests request golf-specific workouts,” Frias says. “They work out regularly on their own but want guidance with golf fitness.”

Guests can sign up for a 30- or 60-minute golf fitness session at a fee of $45 or $75.

“The golf component of fitness training here at Kohler is important,” says Frias. “We consider ourselves a golf destination, so we adapt our training to that lifestyle.”
Frias estimates that the number of his clients who have requested golf-specific training since he arrived at Kohler has grown over 30 percent. Today, more than 40 percent of Sports Core clients want some training to help their golf games.

Frias’s advice to resorts considering adopting golf-specific training is that it will increase business and “help you become more of a golf destination.” 

Sally J. Sportsman is an Orlando, Florida-based freelance golf writer. 



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