Tiger Woods will begin his attempt to win golf's calendar-year grand slam during the Masters tournament at Augusta National in Georgia this weekend. Nick Mastroianni might suggest starting the tournament with a massage.
It's easy to see why. Along with getting his shoes shined and his clubs repaired on-site, Mastroianni, a 44-year-old real estate developer and member of the Ritz Carlton Golf Club & Spa in Jupiter, Fla., frequently uses the club's spa, which offers customized massages that target golfer-specific sore spots, such as the upper shoulder, back and core.
Although he had never stepped into a spa before entering the one at the Ritz, Mastroianni said it was easy to get over any discomfort. After realizing how much the treatment benefited his game, he made his massage a weekly ritual.
"The massages have loosened up my swing considerably," he says. "It makes a big difference in completing the full shoulder turn."
The Ritz is one of many worldwide resorts catering to golfers looking to indulge in a spa treatment before or after a round. SpaFinder, a New York City-based spa travel and marketing company and the publisher of SpaFinder.com and Luxury SpaFinder magazine, lists 59 U.S. spas with adjacent golf courses on its Web site. It's estimated that there are several hundred more worldwide.
Susie Ellis, president of Spa Finder, says this trend coincides with an uptick in men visiting spas, and an uptick in women on the links. Ellis also says corporate planners are looking to golf/spa combinations when organizing off-site meetings.
"It used to be that these trips were all about golfing," she says. "Now, spa has almost become more important than golf, because it appeals to golfers and non-golfers alike."
These large groups are part of the reason why Jill Eisenhut, spa director at the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., began adding golf-specific treatments to the menu in 2003.
"We have groups that get together once a year," she says. "They play the golf courses and then follow up with a massage and a facial afterwards."
They also help the bottom line. Eisenhut says that since introducing them, the number of golf-specific treatments performed on clients has steadily risen. Those treatments now make up 15 percent of the spa's revenue.
"More people are aware of the spa because we offer treatments for golfers," says Eisenhut. "If a group of guys check in and one of them is interested in getting a massage, five of them will end up doing it."
Treatments at Willow Stream include a golf performance massage—which was developed in part by golfers David Leadbetter and Charles Howell III and incorporates stretching and acupressure—as well as the Up-to-Par experience, which consists of a hair and scalp massage combined with a body massage.
The latest offering—Fit to a Tee—is a vigorous, hour-long exercise-and-stretching regimen that aims to improve one's game. Before and after these treatments, guests spend time on one of many local courses, which is arranged by the hotel's golf-specific concierge service.
Places like Willow Stream may have pioneered the experience, but golf-specific spa treatments aren't just popular in the U.S. Renowned Scottish golf resort Gleneagles opened its $16 million, 20,500-square-foot, full-service spa last month. Many of the featured treatments are for the golfer, including a reflexology massage that is said to help the body naturally restore and maintain its own healthy balance.
And in Dubai, both golf and spa are popular, but finding a course and a treatment room on one property isn't so easy, unless you're heading to Jebel Ali. The resort boasts a nine-hole course and offers golfers treatments like the Elemis Urban Cleanse, a deep-cleansing facial for stressed skin that helps eliminate clogged pores and repair the skin. That's followed up with a foot massage.
Today, no matter what course you're on, it's a safe bet that you'll be soaking your feet in essential oils, rather than Epson salts, after the game.