“Unfortunately, we have to consider the possibility that the damage may materialize into complications that will affect the quality of your life. You have to decide what’s best for you moving forward…”
I’ve been golfing most of my entire life. When I was 7, my father said let’s go to a ‘driving range’ and I assumed I was going to learn to drive a car. I was instead handed an old Spaulding 8-iron with slippery original leather grips and he told me to hit it as far as I could. My first shot rolled out to 100 yards and I was hooked.
Since that sunny day as a 7-year old, golf had become an integral part of my life. I got lessons, joined a junior golf tour, played on the high school varsity golf team, got a golf scholarship to college, won on mini-tours, participated and passed stage 1 in the Japan Q-School, and turned teaching into a career. And just like that, an unfortunate car accident in 2015 created a chain reaction that uncovered a serious back issue that would change the course of my golf and life...
“The degeneration in your back may continue to worsen and the accident has exasperated the situation. The degeneration will never heal but at this point, with proper care it can be manageable and still avoid surgery.”
Have you heard of a swing that does not cause back pain? Have you heard of such a swing that also produces elite caliber results? It would seem all current instruction is tailored to maximizing output and increasing biomechanical efficiency. But none is originating on the basis of pain free longevity.
Needless to say, I was in tears. I was basically told that the one thing I do best, the only thing I’ve ever known well enough to consider myself good at something, a source of income and means for pleasure, in one sentence, was stripped out of my life.
“It is my professional recommendation that you stop playing golf considering the nature and cause of your injuries, unless of course you can figure out a way to swing without further damaging your back.”
And it wasn’t just the advice from two orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists. Any swing would result in a resonating reminder that the back pain was serious and it weighed heavy on my heart as proof, that this was the end.
Weeks and weeks of therapy following the accident showed signs of improvement. The annular tear at S1/L5 had healed considerably and the pain had been isolated to a small region in my pelvis. Pain prevention required continued exercise, stretching, and elimination of golf. But the years of swinging had taken its toll. L4 degenerative disc disease was permanent.