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January 2021

Monarch Beach Resort: Focus on Fitness

At Monarch Beach Golf Links, Fitness is Multidimensional

By Sally J. Sportsman

For nearly nine years, Eric Lohman, PGA, has been general manager of Monarch Beach Golf Links, the preferred golf course for Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. During that time, he has seen change aplenty, including the current pandemic and golfers’ reactions to its challenges.

“The whole world has been affected by Covid,” says Lohman, who also serves as general manager of OB Sports and as secretary of the Southern California PGA. “Golf made it to the top of the food chain.”

Monarch Beach always has been a busy, successful resort, Lohman says, but since reopening after an initial pandemic closure, it has witnessed a level of activity as never before, with sold-out tee times, a wait list and some people being turned away. The average golf rate has risen 25% due to increased demand. These days, 85% of business is drive-in daily play from the surrounding vicinity, with the remainder resort guests who stay on property several nights. Stringent Covid-19 protocols are in place at the golf course and throughout the resort. Yet despite the pandemic and the pervading need for everyone to adapt, guests’ dedication to golf and fitness is more evident than ever at Monarch Beach.

Lohman believes fitness is far more than strength, flexibility and endurance.

“Fitness is a broad term that applies to both the physical and mental side of things,” Lohman says. “Many people take pushcarts now, for example; we sell them in the golf shop or people have their own.”

There is no charge for use of push carts, and the trend has reduced standard cart usage at the venue by 15%, meaning less cart repair and maintenance. This shift potentially could save the ownership group $30,000 over five years, Lohman says, as well as $40,000 in fleet rental. Since the golf course is walkable, the course’s caddie program is often in use, too.

The golf academy has seen an uptick in lessons of over 100% in recent months. All six three-day summer camps for juniors were sold out, and two more were added. More of the juniors were resort guests than in years past.

The mental side of fitness is reflected in instruction at Monarch Beach with the Mindful Golf program. A trained spiritual advisor from the spa can walk a round with a golfer. Or a mindful caddie can spend time with a player, talk over lunch or at the practice facility, walk a few holes, help get the guest in the proper mental framework – and even offer guidance on how to incorporate mindfulness into everyday activities away from the golf course.

“I teach a lot of resort guests,” Lohman says, “and we talk through mindfulness as they putt, practice and play. I’m trained in this approach, helping people look at golf and life in a 360-degree more mindful way.”

Although group-related golf travel to Monarch Beach has decreased by 95% during the pandemic, frequent individual travel – couples and families – is up 15%, allowing Mindful Golf and mental fitness to continue to play an important role in golfers’ experience at the destination.

“The increase in play surprised me greatly,” says Lohman. “Now that we have this new influx of golfers, if we can retain them, it will be a strong scenario.

“Luckily, golf was and remains in a position to succeed.”

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