Play better golf, get fit at unique camp at Omni La Costa in SoCal

By Jason DeeganApril 21, 2014, 12:30 pm

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Russ Labrasca looks at his watch.

“4,500 calories burned, and it’s only 4 o’clock,” he says. “I feel great.”

Labrasca will burn a few more calories by day’s end. He and his wife, Judy, have signed up for a week of the PFC Fitness Camp, a weight loss program based at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.

Labrasca, who works in the banking industry in Houston, says he was initially worried how his body would hold up to the “Golf Fit” version of the program, a series of morning workouts, followed by afternoon golf lessons, all on a limited-calorie diet. The results shocked him.

“I hit it (the golf ball) better than I have in years, simply because I was limber,” he says. “The diet is designed to give you energy. When I hit the range, I was set and ready to go. In years gone by, I would have never lasted for a two-and-a-half-hour lesson and feel as good as I do.”

While Labrasca was playing golf under the watchful eye of TOURAcademy Omni La Costa instructors, his wife tackled other fitness adventures, such as hiking and ocean kayaking.

This “Golf Fit” program created last year is truly a one-of-a-kind in the golf resort industry. Co-founders Ryan Relyea and Zach Cutler launched the PFC Fitness Camp in Utah before migrating to La Costa, an iconic destination renowned for promoting wellness and healthy living. La Costa’s luxurious accommodations, world-class spa, Chopra Yoga Center and premier golf and tennis facilities, not to mention the beautiful SoCal weather, make it an ideal fit. “A lot of people have no energy,” says Wendy Sallin, the camp’s director of fitness. “A lot of people find themselves when they are here.”

PFC Fitness Camp

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Don’t think of PFC Fitness Camp as another “Biggest Loser” knockoff. People of all ages and fitness levels participate. Sallin says one man who weighed 560 pounds stayed for a month, as did a relatively fit 22-year-old who “just wanted to feel better.”

“It runs the gamut, from people who are 20 pounds overweight to those who are not at all,” she says.

The ‘Golf Fit’ program costs roughly $5,000 per week. A typical day starts with a 6:30 a.m. nutrient shake followed by multiple workouts, healthy meals cooked for breakfast and lunch, educational seminars and afternoon time set aside for golf clinics on the range or playing one of La Costa’s two courses. An active day ends with a 5 p.m. meal with the group. No alcohol or dining off the menu is allowed, although the food and drink at the resort’s fabulous restaurants have tempted a few who lost their willpower.

“The fitness (program) is well thought out,” Labrasca says. “They take you to the brink, then you move on to something else.”

Campers are encouraged to continue a healthy lifestyle after they leave. They’re given a 12-week at-home coaching program, guided by a book and meal and fitness plans, to continue their weight-loss and work-out regimens in the real world.

“We don’t want a quick fix,” trainer Todd Bassler says. “We want to change your lifestyle. We want to give you a guideline to success.”  


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A taste of golf boot camp

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Trekking in and out of the Champions' many deep bunkers should make one plenty fit. 

I got a taste of the “Golf Fit” program during a recent three-day stay.

I had my finger pricked, so my blood could be analyzed. Measuring my body fat percentage was a painful reality check (don’t ask).

Other baseline tests felt like a flashback to a fifth-grade presidential fitness test. My group of coddled golf journalists was scheduled to run a timed mile, but we protested so much that it was scaled back to a half-mile jog.

Inside the gym, I had one minute to do as many pushups as possible, quickly followed by holding a plank position for as long as I could. At the end of the week, participants redo many of these tests to gauge their progress.

The afternoon exercises using TRX suspension training thoroughly tested my tiring muscles. These elastic bands, which can be attached to a ceiling, wall or door frame just about anywhere, strengthen a golfer’s core while also enhancing flexibility. We spent the last 15 minutes releasing key stress points on the body by sprawling out on the floor with a foam roller, one of those “hurt-so-good” moments during a workout.

Playing better golf is, obviously, the reward for all this hard work. La Costa’s Legends and Champions courses – recently revived after multi-million-dollar renovations by Steve Pate and Damian Pascuzzo – have never looked or played better.

Thankfully, my group wasn’t saddled with the 1,500-calorie-a-day diet of the campers. We did sample some really good gourmet health food prepared by La Costa’s talented chefs. Nobody really cared for the gluten-free pancakes at breakfast one morning. However, that vegan and gluten-free carrot cake served after dinner at the Bistro 65 was a hit. If this is what healthy tastes like, sign me up again.  

The only thing missing from the whole experience was the ‘I survived golf boot camp at La Costa’ T-shirt, a souvenir I’m sure everybody would wear with pride.

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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.