The year began with a routine visit to the doctor in early January. After telling him that I felt something wasn't quite right in my chest--interestingly, there was no pain or pressure--he had an EKG
|Temple University Hospital|
That's when the fun began and the golf season almost didn't.
I met with cardiology in early February, and after examination, they too thought there was little to be concerned about. They did, however, schedule me for an echocardiogram (a heart ultrasound) and a stress test, which I had late in the month. While the echo was negative, the stress test showed doctors that perhaps somethings was indeed, not as it should be. Two days later, I had a cardiac catheterization, which revealed four blockages in the arteries of my heart, one at 95 percent. I met with the cardiothoracic surgeon two days later and quintuple bypass surgery followed shortly thereafter. To do the bypass, the surgeons used an artery from my left forearm. After six days in the hospital, I was sent home to recover. My home rehabilitation, however, was short lived.
Ten after after going home, I passed out on the steps between the first and second floors. Fortunately, as the stairs began to spin, I had the wherewithal to sit down before I lost consciousness. I had developed pneumonia and a pericardial effusion--a buildup of fluid around my heart and left lung. Back to the hospital for another 11 days and a second operation to drain over a liter of fluid from my chest.
After eight weeks, doctors gave me the okay to begin driving and I started cardiac rehabilitation at Jeanes Hospital to build up my strength and stamina. But because the surgeons had to crack open my sternum to get to my heart, golf remained a distant hope.
|Bensalem CC Practice Range|
Finally, on August 23rd, I took a few wedges to Bensalem Township Country Club's practice range, purchased a small bucket of 40 golf balls, warmed up, then faced that moment of truth. With club in hand, I took my address, eased the golf club back, then swung at that little white dimpled golf ball. I hit the ball, but where it went was unimportant. How I felt was the important question of that moment...and the answer was that it felt awkward, but it also felt okay. My sternum didn't snap into two, it held up just fine. It did the same on the next swing, and the swing after that, and the swing after that, and through 40 swings in all. Maybe, just maybe, there would be some golf played in 2017 after all!
It was nearly a month later when I finally started to get serious about playing golf in 2017. On September 16 and 23rd, I went to The Mad Golfer Practice Range in preparation of finally getting onto a golf course before the season ended. I purchased a large bucket--about 100 golf balls--and over the next few hours, hit nearly every club in my bag except the putter. My rationale was a large bucket equated to approximately the number of shots I might hit on the golf course. If I could get through them without incident on back-to-back Saturdays, I was ready for a real golf course. Thankfully, those practice sessions went off without a hitch.
|The Mad Golfer Practice Range|
|The Fairways Golf Club|
Eight days later, I played my third and final round of 2017 at The Buck Club in Jamison, Pa. I played the course for the first time through the Athletes Helping Athletes golf outing. I started out strong, but my swing faded during the later holes. I think the fatigue of playing three weeks in a row began to catch up with me. But again, I was just happy to be playing.
|The Bucks Club Scorecard|