It's a Stretch, But it Works

It's a fact of life: The farther one goes in the world of business, the less time he or she has to devote to a fitness regimen. So if you are planning golf events for top salespeople, executives, and other bigwigs, chances are that you've got a slew of less-than-limber folks on your hands. And while that may not seem like it should be a big concern for planners, consider this: If one or more of your VIPs injure their backs, knees, or shoulders while playing golf, the whole group's focus may be lost for the rest of the meeting.

Perhaps you can persuade attendees to start stretching on their own before the meeting begins. But seeing that you can't even get them to wear their name badges to most of the scheduled events, your chance of success isn't good. Instead, enlist the spa staff at your next resort meeting to help attendees get loose before they play, and recover after they play. In fact, more resorts these days are adding specific treatments for golfers into their menu of services. Here are just a few of the offerings at resorts around the country.

It's Everywhere

Almost every resort spa has expanded its roster of treatments to include sports massage. These are more vigorous, deep-tissue rubdowns that can be momentarily uncomfortable, but which trigger release within tense, overworked golf-related muscles such as those in the shoulders, upper back, lower back, hamstrings, and calves. While these treatments work well either before or after a round of golf, an enterprising planner can offer the following sponsorship opportunity to one of its corporate partners: The sponsor hires a masseuse from the resort or from a local shop to provide quick rubdowns at the golf hole where the sponsor is represented during the event. The ideal spot? The 14th tee, where golfers who have been playing for more than three hours are starting to fatigue and stiffen up, but still have several holes left to play.

A simple massage, however, cannot guarantee that attendees who routinely neglect their muscles won't get hurt while playing. At Miami's Doral Golf Resort & Spa, the fitness staff often sees people coming off the resort's five courses with knee, hamstring, lower back, and shoulder injuries -- most of which could have been mitigated or even prevented by proper stretching beforehand. "Contrary to popular belief, golf is a sport that requires physical fitness," says Joey Corona, fitness instructor at Doral. "For golfers to play a four- or five-hour round, the player needs energy, strength, flexibility, and a high level of concentration."

In light of this, Corona routinely leads a 40-minute workout at the resort's fitness center that increases golfers' aerobics and physical fitness, while improving their golf swing as well. The fast-paced routine uses a scaled-down, weighted golf club that reinforces the basic techniques of the golf swing and strengthens the body in areas most critical to playing golf. But with a group on property, Corona will cut the 40-minute workout down to a 10- to 15-minute session so that your golfers can loosen up right before they play.

And at The Phoenician, in Scottsdale, Arizona, the adjacent Centre for Well-Being boasts a stretching regimen called Table Thai that incorporates a new twist on a centuries-old Thai treatment. Involving slow, deep pulls and stretches using a variety of positions derived from yoga, the therapist uses his or her hands, elbows, knees, legs, and feet to stretch and massage a fully clothed participant's muscles. Planners for small groups can arrange to have each golfer partake in a shortened, pre-round Table Thai treatment to make sure all are physically prepared for their day on the links.

In the end, the most important item to remember is this: Working with a resort's fitness staff to plan a pre-round stretching routine reduces the chances of one of your meeting's participants leaving the golf course on a stretcher. And that's a good thing.

Taking it Home
At the Boulders Resort in Carefree, Arizona, fitness instructor Katherine Roberts will conduct a pre-round yoga workshop -- encompassing stretching, breathing, and visualization techniques -- to get golfers flexible and relaxed. She has also released a video, "Yoga for Golfers," with gentle stretching techniques for specific problems she sees in both infrequent and regular golfers. A unique amenity to give your attendees. $24.95; or (888) 313-YOGA

Must-do Stretches for Golfers
Randy Myers, a fitness director at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, has developed a pocket-sized stretching guide for golfers entitled "Better Health, Better Golf." To order copies for your attendees, call (561) 625-3107. From Myers' pocket guide, here are the five stretches that golfers should always perform before swinging a golf club:

#1 Lower-back stretch
Decompresses the veterbrae in the back so you can swing smooth and without pain. Stand facing the golf cart on the passenger side. Place feet shoulder width apart. Grab canopy support with both hands and slowly sit as far back as possible. Keep both arms fully extended and bend knees slightly. Hold for 10 seconds; repeat three times.

#2 Middle-back rotation
Good for getting ready to make full swings. Stand in front of cart, facing passenger side. Grab canopy support with both hands. Extend arms fully and separate feet to shoulder width. Bending forward slightly, push with top arm while pulling with bottom arm. Hold for 10 seconds. Move to other side of golf cart, face other direction, and repeat for other side of body.

#3 Upper-back rotation
Simulates backswing and follow-through of golf swing, and works both torso and shoulders while helping balance. Stand facing golf cart on passenger side. Extend right arm so that right hand is on top of canopy. With feet directly beneath hips, turn your body slowly to the right, grabbing canopy support with left hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch arms to work opposite side.

#4 Hamstring Stretch
Good combination stretch that elongates hamstrings while stretching middle-back and shoulder muscles. Face golf cart and place right hand on roof canopy. Bend forward slowly and reach for left toe with left hand -- do not bounce. Hold for 10 seconds. Now place left hand on roof canopy and reach for right toe with right hand. Hold 10 seconds. Repeat three times for each side.

#5 Hip and gluteous stretch
Stretches the largest muscles involved in the golf swing. Sit as far back in the passenger seat as possible. Place left foot firmly on drink holder or dash. Cross right foot over left knee and lean forward slowly. Grab canopy support with left hand for deeper glute stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly release. Repeat stretch with opposite leg.