There are hundreds of ways to pick up an injury as a golfer. From pulling something picking up the ball, to twanging a nerve during a practise swing, there are too many to mention. But sometimes, there are golfing injuries almost too bizarre to believe. Here are just a few of them…
Jack Newton and the Airplane
Perhaps one of the most famous golfing injury stories of all time – and it wasn’t even on the course! It was July 1983, and Australian Jack Newton was in the prime of his professional golf career. While boarding a Cessna light aircraft in the rain at Sydney Airport, he accidentally walked into its spinning propeller.
Needless to say, the injuries were devastating, and very nearly fatal. The propeller took his right arm, right eye and a chunk of his abdomen. It’s a testament to Newton’s strength of will, however, that he not only survived – but came back stronger.
He went on to re-learn golf one-handed (even reaching a 13 handicap), as well as becoming a golf commentator for television and radio, reporter, public speaker and golf course designer!
Tiger Woods and the Tree Root
If you ever needed an example of how unexpected golfing injuries can affect even the world’s finest golfers, look no further than Tiger Woods at the 2015 US Masters. On the final day, he ended up in the scruff and lined up an iron shot.
As he drilled the ball out of the thick pine straw, he slammed the iron into a completely hidden tree root and popped out a ligament in his right wrist – causing him to recoil and roar in visible distress. Of course, Tiger being Tiger, he popped it back in himself and went on to shoot a 1-over-par 73. But it goes to show, injury can strike anywhere.
Lee Trevino’s Lightning
A fan-favourite the world over, Lee Trevino won the US Open, PGA Championship and British Open twice each. ‘The Merry Mex’ also holds the distinction for being one of the only professional golfers to be struck by lightning during a tournament.
As Trevino tells it, he and Jerry Heard were sat under an umbrella at the edge of the 13th hole in the 1975 Western Open. Play had been suspended because of the thunderstorm overhead, but they were seeing if it would clear.
Without warning, electricity tore through both of their bodies – finding its way in through the metal spikes in their shoes and leaving from their backs, leaving widespread burn marks. Then, all of a sudden, unconsciousness. “It was a nice, warm feeling,” Trevino remembers. “The electricity stopped my heart. When I woke up, I was in pain. The doctor said if I hadn’t had such a strong heart I would be dead.”
Most players would have been too traumatised to continue playing. Not Trevino. After surgery to correct injury to his spine from the lightning, he went on to win a tournament in each of the following five seasons.
He was typically humorous when asked about it years later. “I’ve been hit by lightning and been in the Marine Corps for four years,” he said. “I’ve travelled the world and been about everywhere you can imagine. There’s not anything I’m scared of, except my wife.”
Bobby Cruickshank vs. Gravity
Perhaps our favourite tale of bizarre golfing injury, Bobby Cruickshank survived action in World War One before getting into golf professionally. Having finished runner-up at the 1932 US Open, he came into the 1934 edition in confident style.
The tournament leader, he was on the 11th hole in the final round when he over hit his approach shot. It appeared to be heading into the creek when, miraculously, it hit a rock on the water’s edge and rebounded onto the green.
Partly through joy and perhaps relief, Cruickshank threw his club into the air and yelled “Thank you Lord!” The club then tumbled out of the air and hit him right on the head, flooring him. The cut in his head as a result needed several stitches, and he was so shaken and dazed that he scored several bogeys in his last seven holes and finished tied for third. If nothing else, it proves that the universe has a keen sense of humour.