About a half-dozen golf writers recently got together to talk about physical fitness. The meeting place was VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa just off Highway 290 in the Barker-Cypress area, where once cattle grazed but now more than 116,000 kids attend public schools and master-planned residential areas are popping up so fast one might mistake the area for League City.

The road to Austin itself is about as big a mess as has been the “Five Corners” intersection and Calder Road right here in our county. But that’s a discussion for another section of the paper.

Historically, golfers of all ages have had a tendency to, in some manner, emulate their favorite golfer or golfers, either by sartorial splendor, the flip of a cigarette butt or the (attempted) beauty of the swing.

Some dabbled in fitness when the likes of Billy Casper went on exotic diets, only to lose both weight and the natural swing that earned him lots of cash. Some pumped a little iron with hopes of building Popeye-like forearms and maybe the swagger of Arnold Palmer; others attempted — but soon abandoned — the regimen of the perennially fit (and quick to tell about it) Gary Player.

Greg Norman was quite the physical specimen; however, “The Shark” ultimately became as much talked about for his stunning defeats as for his ability to play the game with power and accuracy equal to anyone who came before him.

Then came Tiger Woods. Before he was THE Tiger Woods, he was a three-year-old who putted against Bob Hope on the Mike Douglas show; a skinny, bespectacled teenager who at age 15 forced John Daly to birdie the last three holes of a round in order to edge him by a stroke.

Then, he got fit, and more fit. The rest, as they say, is history, even if one of mixed headlines. That aside, Woods forever changed the face of fitness among the world’s elite golfers, and awakened the rest of us to the possibilities that taking a little better care of ourselves might extend our playing time and even on occasion enable us to hit the ball farther than we can now see. Which brings us back to VillaSport.

VillaSport General Manager Herb Lipsman has more than a quarter-century managing prestigious golf and non-golf properties such as the Houstonian Hotel, Houston Oaks Country Club and the Golf Club of Houston. He helped design and manage fitness centers for both the River Oaks and Lakeside Country Club. Herb knows golf, and he knows fitness.

The purpose of our visit was to talk about health, nutrition and fitness as elements of a lifestyle — regardless of one’s age — and to show us what a state-of-the-art facility looks like, whether or not yours is a golf-oriented family.

From the aquatics program to the Pilates studio to the incredible array of programs designed for each member of the family, there is no doubt that while you are likely reading about VillaSport for the first time, this will not be the last you hear; plans for expansion include the possibility of a facility somewhere in our region.

Imagine the availability of 180-group exercise classes each week; indoor and outdoor swimming pools and waterslides; an NBA size gymnasium; a resort style day spa and a healthy café.

Read more about Herb and the VillaSport experience online, but also check out some of the fine fitness facilities already available in our area. Remember, you are only one month into that New Year’s resolution!

BEST FIT

Thursday Cash Game team winners at Moody Gardens last week were Mike Downing and Larry Poe. Downing also earned “skin” cash while Poe claimed individual low net and proximity prizes. Kyle Holmes posted a two-under par 70 to win low gross.

Henry Garza, Ray Chapman, Darryl Spoor and Cliff Robinson scrambled to a 62 for a one-shot victory over Randy Burrows, Gary Potter and Charlie Surber for the win in Bayou Golf Club’s weekly senior outing.

Up at Beacon Lakes Golf Club, the first officially reported winners in their Tuesday Scramble were C. Morse, J.B. Brown, S. Freeman and M. Oldham. As a reminder, the Beacon scramble is open to players 55 and up, and starts at 8 a.m. each Tuesday.

GETTING FIT

Ball High JV golfers are tuning up their games and last week finished sixth out of 15 schools in the Clear Lake Boys JV Winter Classic at Bay Oaks Country Club. Landon Parsons led Tor scoring by placing fifth individually among 94 players.

High school golf teams from around the area are preparing for their run at district titles. For full coverage of your favorite team, make sure someone associated with the program has my email address. Also, submit photos documenting your team’s accomplishments.

Happy Mardi Gras! Be safe, on and off the course.

Editor’s note: See more of Gean Leonard’s column in the online version at galvnews.com.

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