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


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


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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Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”