A tragedy was avoided two weeks ago at the World Amateur Handicap Championship thanks to the quick action of an assistant pro who also happened to be a trained emergency medical technician.
65-year-old golfer Harry Whitt was playing in the event at Indian Wells Golf Club when he collapsed under cardiac arrest on the 15th hole. The other members of his group called 911 as well as the pro shop where assistant pro Bobby McCullough answered the phone and rushed out to the scene.
“I did not feel a pulse on Mr. Whitt, so I began and took over compressions at that point,” McCullough told Alan Blondin of Myrtle Beach Online. “As time elapsed, I did regain a pulse and was able to feel it and sustain it. When he left here, he had a pulse, but I honestly did not feel good about it because typically that doesn’t happen.”
McCullough sited a 2% chance of survival following that kind of cardiac arrest, and those who do survive typically sustain severe brain damage. Indian Wells’ second assistant, Charlie Cox, is a registered nurse, so Whitt’s episode couldn’t have happened at a better golf course.
“He picked a good place for it to happen,” Cox said. “An unwitnessed event like that the person dies for sure. CPR needs to be started within minutes of that happening or they don’t make it.”
48 hours after Whitt’s heart stopped and was quickly brought back, he was released from the hospital, a medical miracle. A few days later, Whitt showed up again at Indian Wells Golf Club to properly meet and thank his rescuer.
“That was pretty powerful,” McCullough said. “It was, because that’s just not something you’re used to in the ER. . . . If they are somebody saved, they’re either kicked up to (the intensive care unit) or shipped to (the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.) You may never see them again.”
Whitt was playing in his 10th World Amateur Handicap Championship and asked about how he usually plays, he joked, “Either I do real good or I die.”
Hopefully next year, when he plans to play again, Whitt just plays well.