Golf? or Spa?
A guy’s guide to the smarter gender’s recreation.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
My wife Landry and I are different. On vacation, we both enjoy golf, but she’d much rather play a quick seven holes and then beat a quick retreat into an orange-scented spa somewhere for a mango-papaya body polish, or a quatros manos (four hands) massage. Sometimes she’ll skip golf altogether to get straight to the good stuff, like a kid who passes on the Brussels sprouts to get to the ice cream.
Me? I’m playing 18 holes—100 plus-or-minus strokes of sheer frustration and occasional success.
She’s smart; I’m a guy.
We found ourselves in exactly that situation on a recent trip to Cabo San Lucas. As I was sweating it out in the desert, playing Don Quixote with the cactus and my clubs, she was on the beach under a palapa for yoga class. She then moseyed to the resort’s spa for her daily water ritual, followed by a grated coconut and lime exfoliation, or a hibiscus anti-oxidant flower bath—treatments that sounded like they were invented for the queen of Sheba.
When we’d meet back in the room around noon, she’d be calm and emit the pleasing aroma of fresh fruit. I didn’t know whether to refrigerate her or nosh on her. I was pissed off and stank like a hog just ran me up the valley. The best idea was to take a shower and worry about it later.
While in Cabo, we did discover that we both liked Corona beer. Hers was in the form of a facelift; mine was in a longneck.
This scenario plays out every day, I’m sure, in probably every hotel room in the world. We know it does here in Monterey County.
Pebble Beach, for example, with its array of golf courses to tempt guys like me, also offers a potpourri of spa treatments for smart women like Landry. That’s not to say that smart women don’t also enjoy the golf courses, but what makes them smart is that they will play one day and make a beeline to the spa the next, if not that same afternoon.
So while I’m hacking foliage with my wedge at Spyglass, The Spa at Pebble Beach will be pampering Landry with a seaweed body masque or a wild strawberry scrub. I’m welcome at the spa, too, for some post-golf therapy, where my forearms, neck, lower back and hips can be soothed. But being a guy, I’m not always up for that. If they offered psychotherapy at the same time I might go.
“Doc, why is my wife always so happy and at peace with herself, when I’m frustrated and insane that I’ve never had a hole-in-one?”
“Basically, sir, she’s smart and you’re a guy. Now roll over; I’m going to crack your back.”
See how this works?
Meanwhile, over at the lovely Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row, Landry can indulge in a warm marine mud wrap at the spa, as I freeze my tooshie in the morning fog on the Pacific Grove golf course. She’d probably follow her wrap with a sea mineral exfoliation/massage, something I was getting the natural way out on hole 15.
At The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, I have two choices of masochism: the Ocean Course and the Old Course. She, on the other hand, will sign up for a Pumpkin Body Peel or some other divine thing. The Pumpkin Body Peel claims to gently removes dead skin cells, treat dry skin and supply the body with vitamin A, leaving “your body fresh, invigorated and ready to receive a ‘vitamin cocktail,’ a rich body cream fortified with vitamins A, C and E.”
I’ll be ready for a cocktail (or 10) alright, just after I regain my composure from those triple-bogeys on 17 and 18 of the Ocean Course.
Back in Carmel, A Signature Day Spa will concoct a vanilla and grapeseed body salt glow for her; the Bodyworks in Monterey has a “stress-melting” Esalen-style Swedish massage waiting for her; and Spa on the Plaza at the Doubletree in Monterey (voted Best Spa in Monterey County by the readers of the Weekly) will stage a Metamorphosis, “a body polish, rosemary and sage body cocoon with an aromatherapy facial treatment.” This last affair takes two hours and fifteen minutes, just enough time for me to lose a couple sleeves of Precepts on the front nine at Bayonet.
Spa directors are like chefs for the flesh. They use local ingredients (mangoes, seaweed, pumpkins), cook up elaborate schemes to tempt and please (wraps, polishes, cocoons and massages) and offer it all on a smart-sounding menu, just like their kitchen counterparts.
Spas, I’ve come to discover, are quite civilized places. Golf courses are not. On golf courses, you get sweaty, dirty and irritated. Your playing partners will empty your wallet for you and laugh about it gleefully. Golf is like an artichoke facial with the thorns left on. Not only is it painful, but it leaves deep scars as well.
Spas do the opposite. If I wanted to do the smart thing—a concept that generally escapes golfers altogether—I’d join Landry in the spa. My golf game might still stink, but my skin would smell like roses…or pomegranates…or papaya…