48: The Luckiest Golfer Alive

48: The Luckiest Golfer Alive

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

The Luckiest Golfer Alive

I’m not afraid of death. It’s the stake one puts up in order to play the game of life.

~Jean Giraudoux,
Amphitryon

No golfer worthy of his titanium driver would dare complete a round without complaining. The greens are always too hard, the pin positions too difficult, the rough too high and the sand traps too deep. The unwritten code of behavior dictates that every golfer must voice such complaints.

Either that, or admit the real reason for lack of success on the golf course: your own ineptitude.

But even while joining the griping session, I know deep down I am the luckiest golfer alive. I haven’t holed a chip shot to win the Masters on extra holes. I haven’t canned a sand shot to win the PGA. But I am lucky.

Just how lucky I am was brought home by an item in the Golf Plus edition of Sports Illustrated, which read:

“A golf course is the fifth most likely place to suffer a heart attack, but one of the least likely places to survive one—about 5 percent of stricken golfers survive.”

But here I am. I twice beat the statistics. And on the same course. I had what was described as a cardiac arrest on the 3rd hole in February and on the 5th hole in November. Improved, huh?

I survived, I am convinced, because of having good friends. In the foursome immediately behind me when I keeled over in February was Dr. Bob Bullington, a retired cardiologist. Behind that group were Cotton Fitzsimmons, former coach of the Phoenix Suns, and two of the Suns’ current players, Joe Kleine and Dan Majerle. They called 911.

Bullington used chest compressions to revive me. I remember coming to, lying on the apron in front of the 3rd green and hearing another doctor tell Bullington he couldn’t get a pulse.

“Isn’t that nice?” I said.

I then suggested we let Cotton’s group play through. I was too late. They already had skipped around me. I was lucky they didn’t give me a two-stroke penalty for slow play.

In November, I holed a fifty-foot putt on the 5th hole. I was short of breath, possibly from the excitement of the putt, but made my way to the golf cart and passed out. My cartmate, Paul McCoy, immediately recognized my problem and raced to the group ahead of us, which, get this, included the same Dr. Bullington.

This episode was more serious. Bullington thought he had cracked a couple of ribs pounding on my chest. I didn’t regain consciousness until reaching the intensive care ward. My problem apparently has been remedied by a new drug and a pacemaker.

One problem: Bullington won’t play golf with me now. Says he wants to finish eighteen.

~Bob Hurt
Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul, The 2nd Round

More stories from our partners