Enjoying the Game of a Lifetime
In our busy, modern world, maintaining a positive, healthy lifestyle is no easy task. However, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ golf team thinks it can help. And – surprise! – they see golf as an important catalyst for developing and maintaining a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle.
“Golf is a physical, mental and social pursuit. Because it allows us to be athletically active outdoors, requires us to be mentally focused, and gives us terrific opportunities for social interaction, we believe passionately that golf can be the foundation to an overall healthy lifestyle,” said Justin Wood, Executive Director of Golf & Retail for Fairmont. “Many call golf the game of a lifetime, and it truly can be if we take the steps to address each of those elements. Our golf properties are uniquely suited to helping guests learn how to do just that.”
Wood said the resort properties can do this by helping guests to improve their playing abilities, enhance their athletic performance, reduce physical pain, and provide motivation to keep them going.
“Whether a person is a lifelong player, a returning golfer or entirely new to the sport, our golf resorts provide the perfect opportunities for them to experiment and explore the way golf can be incorporated into their lifestyles and how golf can benefit other aspects of their lives.”
Building a Better Golf Game
A great first step, according to Wood, is to seek the advice of one of the many skilled golf instructors who’ve chosen to partner with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Among the very best is Shawn Cox, Director of Golf at Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego. Cox has helped players from touring professionals to absolute beginners achieve success through golf.
Cox said the key to enjoying golf – regardless of a player’s level of experience – is to make sure you have the basics of grip, stance and posture, correct and then build a lesson plan that is appropriate for the individual.
“It doesn’t really matter if someone has been playing his or her whole life or if they have never picked up a club before, we have to ensure the foundation is sound before we start making adjustments,” said Cox. “After that, we spend a lot of time talking to the students to find out what their interests are and what they’d like to get out of the game. It’s not the same for everyone.”
Cox said in his experience, oftentimes men and women approach the game very differently. Men tend to do better with one-on-one lessons right out of the gate. While women often prefer to participate in clinics and classes which bolster the social part of the game.
From an equipment standpoint – especially for new or returning players – Cox said it can be extremely beneficial to invest in the latest technology. Golf club manufacturing has changed so much over the past decade that clubs even a few years old are behind the times in terms of feel and performance. If an entire new set isn’t in the cards, Cox advises students to focus on acquiring a new driver and perhaps a hybrid club. He said modern driver technology provides players with the most “bang for the buck.” They are lighter with larger sweet spots. This allows players to hit the ball farther and experience fewer mishits. He said hybrids are a great alternative to long-irons because they are so much easier to hit. “
Don’t go by what your friends say or what is written in magazines,” Cox said. “Individual swing characteristics play a huge role in how well or poorly a particular club works for a player. Just because your friend loves his or her driver does not mean it will work for you. To make a wise investment you really need the guidance of a professional who understands the technology and who can match it to your golf swing.”
Finally, as encouragement to make the investment in both time and money, Cox points to a recent Swedish medical study which indicates golfers enjoy a life expectancy that is five years longer than average.
Building a Better You
Of course, to enjoy those five extra years it takes more than a few lessons and some new equipment. The engine that drives the train is the body and mind of the player. This aspect is where the rubber really meets the road, and it is also where Fairmont excels. Through its network of world-renowned spas, Fairmont is a leader in helping guests reset, recharge and reinvigorate their minds and bodies whether guests are passionate about golf or some other pursuit.
A terrific example is the esteemed Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, California. Located in the heart of wine country, the resort offers its own natural mineral hot springs as well as playing privileges at the neighboring Sonoma Golf Club, one of California’s most prestigious private clubs.
According to Spa Director, Alison Abbott, a stay at a resort property like Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is ideal for golfers seeking to learn more about living a healthy lifestyle. She says the availability of a variety of fitness programs housed in one location – including various forms of yoga and Pilates classes; fitness, nutritional and metabolic assessments; as well as guided hikes, bike rides and personal training – allow guests to experiment to see which disciplines they enjoy and which best suit their individual needs. “
Generally, we find yoga to be very beneficial to golfers. It helps to increase flexibility and enhances proper breathing, which is fundamental for vital energy in all aspects of the game, particularly physical and mental stamina,” said Abbott.
Likewise, she said Pilates helps develop the strength and agility needed to increase clubhead speed and maintain accuracy while remaining focused and free from tension. She also said such classes are a key component to helping guests avoid injury and reduce pain.
Certain spa treatments – such as the 60-minute sports massage, the 90-minute total-body recovery and the various facials and body wraps – help guests rejuvenate and re-energize their bodies following active days in the gym or on the golf course.
In between spa treatments, Craig Cristello, exercise physiologist at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, recommends golfers spend 10 to 15 minutes each day improving flexibility and balance with a series of simple stretches and exercises that can be performed at home or while traveling.
Cristello is part of the elite team of professionals that make up Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ revolutionary new Well & Being Spa, which provides personalized and fully integrated wellness programs. Of particular interest for golfers is Well & Being’s Alpine Arnica Deep-Tissue Massage. It uses pressure to broaden the fibrous tissues of muscles, tendons and ligaments, breaking down adhesions and restoring mobility to the body. A targeted application of arnica-rich gel and steamed towels help ease muscle pain and relax stiff joints.
To help golfers limber up, Cristello suggests seated hamstring stretches, spinal twists and trunk side stretches for flexibility. For balance, he recommends golfers take their normal stances and make a practice swing, holding the finishing position at the top for eight to 10 seconds. This simple exercise allows the body to find its own balance point, improving your performance on the golf course. “
Just performing these exercises for a few minutes each day has the potential to help players improve their performance and receive more enjoyment from the game,” said Cristello.
Of course, proper nutrition also is important to achieving optimal results. Cristello recommends golfers eat a balanced breakfast before heading to the course as well as an energy-boosting snack (such as trail mix, bananas and almonds or natural peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread) every fourth hole. Hydration also is key, especially in warm environments. He suggests players drink at least 16 ounces of fluid one hour before their rounds and four to eight ounces every hole or two during the round.
In It for the Long Haul
The final piece is to help guests maintain their passion for golf and their dedication to a healthy lifestyle over the long term. Doing so requires motivation. With its collection golf courses – including beloved historic courses, acclaimed modern designs and PGA TOUR venues – as well as numerous opportunities year-round to enjoy one-of-a-kind golf experiences, Fairmont has many arrows in its quiver to help golfers sustain motivation.
Obviously, a very important means of motivation from Fairmont’s standpoint is giving guests the opportunities to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime golf travel experiences. Exactly how those experiences are defined varies from traveler to traveler, but a trip to The Fairmont Banff Springs and the chance to play its celebrated Stanley Thompson Golf Course provides a great example.
For the uninitiated, The Fairmont Banff Springs, lovingly known as the “Castle in the Rockies,” sits in the heart of Canada’s majestic Banff Springs National Park. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks and rushing rivers, the Stanley Thompson Course at The Fairmont Banff Springs is widely considered among North America’s best golf courses. A golf trip here is near the top of many discerning players’ bucket lists, and of course they’d like to play their best. So, preparation for such a trip provides great motivation at home.
According to Director of Golf at The Fairmont Banff Springs Steven Young, such preparation necessarily involves tuning up one’s game, building strength, stamina and flexibility and acquiring the proper gear to ensure the most enjoyable golf experience possible.
Because of the elevation (Banff sits a mile above sea level) wind and weather are often factors on the golf course. To prepare, he recommends players spend some time working on knockdown shots for playing into the wind and bump-and-run shots for downwind. “
Depending upon where they live, these shots may be somewhat unfamiliar to many players,” said Young. “But here, you’ll need them much more often than not. Otherwise, the wind can really be a significant factor. It’s best to practice these at your home course – even asking for assistance from your local pro – prior to arrival. Doing so will give you a physical and mental edge over your playing partners.”
Young also cautions players to practice bunker shots. The Stanley Thompson Course has more than 150 bunkers – nearly three times as many as most golf courses. To enjoy the round, players need to develop the confidence and ability to negotiate these hazards. Another “hazard” of Banff is the sheer beauty of the setting. Players encounter spectacular views of mountains, rivers, and wildlife at every turn. “It really can get quite distracting,” said Young. He suggests placing a photo of your favorite location on your desk at work and practice not looking at it. He said the discipline of doing so will pay dividends in Banff.
Finally, Young suggests players work on building their stamina and flexibility for several weeks before arrival, as well.
“The air is definitely thinner up here. Those coming from lower elevation will feel it, especially if they plan to walk the golf course – which is a wonderful way to experience it,” said Young. “And, playing multiple rounds over the course of a few days can cause little-used muscles to really start barking. Players who spend some time walking or doing other cardiovascular work as well as flexibility exercises will fare much better than those who do not.”
Guests also should limber up before and after their rounds. Young advises a trip or two to the sauna or a massage in the spa can help relieve soreness and tension after playing. He also stresses the need for hydration and sun protection when playing at altitude.
While Young speaks specifically about his course in Banff, his advice is sound no matter the destination of choice. Whether travelers are headed to the Canadian Rockies, Fairmont’s property in St Andrews Scotland, one of the PGA TOUR host courses at Fairmont properties in Scottsdale, Arizona or Mayakoba, Mexico, or elsewhere around the globe, players can use the planning of an epic golf trip with friends or family members as motivation to maintain a healthy approach to life. Doing so promises to provide years of enjoyment and countless fond memories.