The game of golf. What is it about golf that draws us close to it? Is it a good walk spoiled (Mark Twain), the lure of man against his terrain, the feeling she gets when she smacks the ball on the sweet spot, the futile chase for the perfect round, the camaraderie and friendships? Perhaps all of that..
I played a ton of golf in the 90’s. It’s always had a special place. My Dad would bring me to his country club as a little tyke, and let me hit the occasional shot when others weren’t around. As a 5 year old, based on past observation, I concluded the thing to do at golf courses was to relieve yourself in the woods. When you gotta go, you gotta go – at golf courses you can find a tree anywhere, right? I mistakenly understood that to mean I could take it upon myself to empty my bladder on the hedge at the busy country club entrance! Oops!! My early jobs were at golf courses – first as a nervous busboy pouring wine on patrons’ laps at Uplands at the age of 16, then as a grasscutter at the Toronto Ladies Golf Club. Those were fun times, and I played golf for free.
Tragedy struck in 1993, when my father died on his golf course. Cardiac arrest on the first hole, gone at the snap of your fingers. This was one year after my residency, practicing as a new doctor. And I was into golf more than ever.
Later in the 90’s, after a golf trip to Myrtle Beach with the lads, I went into fulminant acute liver failure, was hospitalized, and survived. Small amounts of alcohol, small amount of Tylenol and exposure to pesticides at the time was not a good cocktail it would appear. I felt what it was like to be a patient with a strange illness. In Maui, after months of work to get my lifestyle and liver straightened out, I collapsed on the golf course, fully conscious I couldn’t hold my trunk straight, a bizarre neurological response to pesticide exposure. No more golf for me…for a while anyway.
Today I’m playing in a charity golf event at Whirlpool in Niagara Falls. It’s the 7th Annual Children’s Charity Golf tournament, for Family and Children’s Services. Hence the reflection. Been playing to a much lesser degree for 10 years or so now, off and on, and always very hydrated, with a better understanding of my body and what it needs. It’s been an interesting road back.
Much has transpired since the 90’s. Through personal experience and the journey to make some sense of it all, I entered my own personal education into Environmental Medicine before it was considered important enough to name it that. I came to understand the role of the Chemical Revolution in today’s illnesses, the protection from nutrients that must be afforded, the strategies to detoxify oneself, the importance of organic food, the sensitivity of nerve tissue to chemicals, the role of the liver in maintaining good health, and the list goes on and on. Those darn pesticides.
Golf is a difficult game to learn. I started at a young age. It has taught me many lessons – about body control, muscle memory, patience and perseverence. Who would have thought it would have such a profound impact on my understanding of health matters?