Wait! Don't turn the page yet.
I know, you don't like "touchy-feely" spa stuff, do you? Me either. My wife does, sure, but what kind of real man gets a pedicure?
Eating rare steak, sipping martinis, lighting stogies -- that's a guy's golf vacation. At least I thought so before experiencing the best of both worlds. Give one of today's new golf-spa packages a try and you might change your mind too.
I decided to indulge myself at The St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California, which offers a package called the "Ultimate Gentlemen's Retreat." It combines unlimited golf with unlimited spa use and an 80-minute spa treatment. A palatial five-diamond resort perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, The St. Regis is home to Monarch Beach Golf Links, a sporty 1983 Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that plays to a par 70 at 6,601 yards from the championship tees (138 slope) and a scant 6,052 from the golds.
The course borders the Pacific until the fourth hole, where it turns toward rolling foothills. Inhaling cool salt spray and fresh air between shots, my mind relaxed. My body, however, needed work -- particularly my perpetually achy lower back and right wrist. I scheduled a spa treatment just after my first round.
I was skeptical about whether I could be helped until I stepped into the hydrobath for the first time. My skin tingled as the jets sprayed like little fire hoses on all the right spots. The water smelled faintly like eucalyptus, kind of pleasant, actually. I lay my head back and started to relax.
A few minutes later, a masseur walked in and greeted me. I sat up attentively and said, "Thanks," holding out my hand as he twisted the cap off a Belgian microbrew ale.
"No," he said, "this is for your scalp massage. It's traditional in Europe. But you're welcome to drink whatever's left over."
He poured a quarter of the bottle over my head, added some water and worked the tension out of my scalp. I started to see the point of all this pampering.
The body massage that followed worked the kinks and pain out of my back and wrist. The masseur coaxed pressure points and stretched muscles in an effort to keep me on the course all three days of my stay. (It worked. I went back for more the following morning.)
It was easy to drift into a dreamy state during the massage. But cunningly, The St. Regis pipes in Harvey Penick reading from his collection of simple golf wisdom, Little Red Book. So instead of falling asleep, my brain filled with gentle words about taking dead aim and having realistic expectations.
When it was over, I was escorted to the Tranquility Lounge, where I sipped a dry martini I had selected from a menu presented upon check-in at the spa.
I saved my stogie for the first tee.
Spas for Golf Guys
Kohler Waters Spa at American Club
Developed with input from golf pros, the recently added "Golfer's Massage" (50 minutes, $117) emphasizes stretching, strength and performance. A "Golfer's Foot Renewal" (50 minutes, $76) is another refreshing treat. Call 866-928-3777 or visit destinationkohler.com.
Four Seasons Resort Maui
Wailea, Maui, HI
The home of Wailea's Emerald, Gold and Blue courses has created "Feldenkrais for Golfers" (50 minutes, $115), which focuses on balance and flexibility. You can also opt for a "Golfer's Massage" (50 minutes, $125) or traditional Hawaiian hot stone therapy (80 minutes, $195). Call 808-874-8000 or visit fourseasons.com/maui.
Fairmont Turnberry Isle
The "Golf Performance Treatment" (60 minutes, $149) is a perfect chaser after you play the resort's pair of Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses. Endorsed by noted skinny guys David Leadbetter and Charles Howell III, it employs massage, stretching and acupressure. Call 305- 932-6200 or visit turnberryisle.com.