Cathi Keefe is the Director of Fitness at Avila Golf & Country Club in Tampa, Florida.
Avila Golf & Country Club serves a diverse membership that ranges from residents and members to the top golfers in the world. We offer an 18-hole championship golf course that was re-designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1988, six lighted tennis courts, a junior Olympic-size swimming pool, retail shopping opportunities in our pro shops and a newly-renovated clubhouse.
In addition, we offer a wellness facility that includes spa treatment rooms, a Pilates Reformer studio, Fit Fuel refreshment bar and a group fitness studio. We host a variety of on-site and virtual wellness classes and offer customized services, such as TPI golf fitness, tennis, massage therapy, posture restorative therapies and personal life coaching. We focus on our members’ total well-being in their personal quest for optimal health and wellness.
We opened a 3,000 sq. ft. golf performance center in October 2022. The space features two state-of-the-art hitting bays, one of which is used by our PGA Director of Instruction, Scott Wickham, as the main instructional bay. It’s a great warm-up area that includes TB12 bands and foam rollers. Members and guests also utilize the bay and enjoy a stellar golf experience via TrackMan and V1 Sports technology.
The second bay is a multi-purpose space that can accommodate up to 20 people and is designed for private lessons, group clinics and corporate events. With the broad demographics of our membership, this space welcomes young families, aspiring junior players, seasoned recreational golfers and even Tampa Bay sports team athletes.
I’ve always had a passion for sports and athletic training growing up in Chicago and became an ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Certified Exercise Physiologist, focusing on golf, tennis and rotational sports. Soon after, I expanded my traditional sports conditioning training with complimentary performance and recovery programs through Postural Restorative Institute (PRI) courses and a Neuromuscular Practitioner certification. I have more than two decades of private golf and country club fitness management experience and have been at Avila for the past ten years.
As a result of this training and many years of experience, I am able to assess a golfer’s physical fitness, current health and history, biomechanics and physical limitations that can inhibit movement and swing efficiency. When the screening is complete, the body-swing connection is reviewed and we issue a “Golf Fitness Handicap,” which is a number between 0 and 36 and considers how well the golfer compares to the physical ability of a PGA Tour professional. Zero is the ideal score, but with such diversity in our membership and clientele, we have very few individuals with that desired result, leaving much work to do to get them in tip-top condition.
Although TPI says there is no one way to swing a golf club, it also proclaims that “there is one efficient way for every player to swing based on what he or she can physically do.” At Avila, we leave the swing to our PGA Professionals and rather focus on ensuring our members’ bodies are increasingly capable of attaining the movements and positions that are needed in that desired golf swing.
For instance, the common characteristics in our juniors are a lack of stability and excessive range of motion. Whereas our recreational senior players often demonstrate a lack of mobility in the thoracic and hip areas which can lead to lower back pain and dysfunction.
The repetitive golf motion subjects the athlete to overuse injuries that result in elbow, shoulder, back and neck pain. Additionally, many golfers are stuck in asymmetrical patterns and less optimal breathing practices that exacerbate poor posture, which is detrimental to their golf mechanics. To remedy these issues, we offer PRI corrective strategies that promote proper golf posture while relaxing overactive muscles. We activate the “King” and “Queen” of the golf swing – the glutes and abdominals.
We implement a team approach to meet our members’ diverse needs, collaborating closely with PGA Director of Instruction Scott Wickham and PGA Head Professional Chris Slattery to deliver optimal results for our clients.