Mary Ann's Massage Center Tips for Better Golf Performance


Mary Ann Hawkins knows well the effort required to walk 36 holes or more of links golf in a single day. In fact, as a former Bandon Dunes caddie, a profession she enjoyed for five years, few in this world are more familiar.

Hawkins has another focus these days. As one of the Licensed Massage Therapists at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Massage Center, Hawkins helps Bandonistas stay upright and swinging freely, helping weary golfers get back on their feet for the next day’s adventures.

The job is not one she takes lightly.

“I am a much better therapist than I ever was a caddie,” Hawkins says with a laugh.

“Guests have a tendency to overdo it a bit out here,” Hawkins continued. “They come in here and they’re exhausted after a double (36 holes in one day). But we can offer quite a bit of relief and have them ready to play another 36 the next day.”

In many ways, Hawkins and the rest of the Licensed Massage Therapists at Bandon Dunes are part of a growing trend in golf, providing customized massage and bodywork for the individual golfer.

Visit a PGA Tour event on any given weekend, and you will see players shuffling in and out of therapy trailers. Among the health professionals stationed, an army of massage therapists are at the ready to rub those aches and pains into submission.

The explosion in popularity of therapeutic massages on Tour — intense therapy rather than relaxing Swedish-style — is no accident. The benefits are undeniable.

“Greater range of motion, better focus, and enhanced performance,” Hawkins says. “It can really make a difference.”

A golfer for more than 35 years, a Licensed Massage Therapist for more than 18, and a Titleist Performance Institute-certified sports performance movement expert, Hawkins explains the benefits:

  • Massage helps improve a golfer’s range of motion, increasing flexibility throughout the body especially in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and ankles. Adding a stretching regimen in conjunction with massage can drastically improve range of motion and ultimately help advance a golfer’s game.
  • Improving circulation is one of the hallmarks of massage. It can contribute to tissues receiving more oxygenation. It can also provide an outlet for inflamed tissues to release the toxins that sometimes build up in the system.
  • Massage can help improve mental focus, which can really affect a golfer’s round. Massage stimulates the nervous system, especially the body’s natural “relaxation response.” And relaxation can support a golfer’s capacity to be focused, toned without tension for both physical and mental aspects, and help them breathe easier.

In addition, Hawkins’ TPI certification gives her the ability to offer golf-specific assessments that can help identify flexibility trouble areas for players.

A trip to Bandon Dunes brings its own set of special circumstances, too. One of the true joyful experiences here is playing and walking 36 spellbinding holes in a single day. Some Bandonistas string multiple 36-hole days together.

While unquestionably fun, it is also a lot of exertion for even the fittest golfers, adding to the necessity of proper care during the trip.

“We get Bandonistas who come here for four days, and play 36 holes each day,” Hawkins says. “For those golfers, it is really helpful to come in before, during, and after the course of their trip. Most people aren’t used to walking that many holes. They have to take care of themselves while they’re here to ensure that they are avoiding fatigue, possible injury, and continue to swing loosely.”

Fatigue is often ignored by golfers to the detriment of their own games. Golfers sometimes view a sudden decline in their games down the stretch as an aberration. But often that decline is not mechanical, but due to fatigue.

Fatigue from dehydration and overuse of muscles negatively impacts focus, so golfers should pay particular mind to what their body is trying to tell them.

And who wants to be fading just when you get to the inspiring 16th tee box of Bandon Dunes?

Visit the Bandon Dunes Massage Center during your trip, and surge late to win your match. 

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