Staying on Par: How to Prevent Common Golf Injuries

By John Xenos, MD | Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Surgeon
The Sky Ridge Spine & Total Joint Center

Golf is more than a hobby, it is a great way to get outside and stay fit. It involves every muscle of your body, moving with the golf club as your body rotates to make contact with the ball. As with any physical activity, without injury prevention or proper treatment for injuries, a golfer can be off the course for good.

Here are the top three injuries from which golfers can suffer and ways to prevent them:

  1. Back pain: Back pain is the most common injury in golf, as the back curves with the movement of the club. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, muscle spasms and sometimes nerve irritation in the legs. To avoid this injury, golfers should squat when picking up or placing a golf ball, use a longer putter, slow down their backswing to minimize the force of movement on the lower back, and make sure to shift body weight to the appropriate foot during the backswing. If your back still aches after a day on the course, it’s best to lay down on the couch with a heating pad. Aspirin can be used to manage discomfort. If golfers experience pain after X days, visit a doctor.
  2. Golfer’s elbow: Known in medical circles as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow is an inflammation of the elbow that results from bending the elbow too much. This occurs in golfers who hold their golf club too tightly and swing too hard or quickly at the ball, causing pain in the tendons of the elbow. Golfers feel pain and tenderness on the outer side of the left elbow and inner side of the right elbow, with the greatest pain occurring at the backswing and impact of the club with the ball. The best way to prevent this injury is with a more fluid swing. Move the club slowly on the backswing and then move the club in a continuous movement downward towards the ball. Another method is to ease up your grip on the club during the swing–without letting go. Treatment for this type of injury is rest, a hand brace, medication or cortisone. A physician can provide the brace, medication or cortisone shots if necessary. If pain persists past several days, golfers should seek medical attention from their doctor.
  3. Hand and wrist: The hand and wrist tie for the third most common injury among golfers. As the hands are crucial to the grip of the club and the wrist necessary to the “snap” of the swing, overuse or a traumatic blow can cause serious injury. Of the many injuries players suffer; the most common in the hand/wrist area is tendonitis. Tendonitis is the inflammation of tendons that cut across the wrist, causing pain to radiate from the wrist to the hand. To help prevent tendonitis, players should ensure their clubs properly fit their height and hand size and perform warm-up exercises before hitting the ball. Players should also immediately stop play if any pain starts in the wrist. To treat tendonitis, wrap ice around the area and take an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Aleve.


There are other injuries golfers can experience on the course but taking these steps to prevent the most common injuries will keep a player on the course longer and healthier in the process.


Dr. John Xenos is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and earned his medical degree from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  He then served as the Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Fort Benning Georgia where he was directly involved in the treatment of the 75th Ranger Regiment as well as other infantry units.  Dr. Xenos followed his passion for joint replacement and completed a fellowship in adult reconstructive surgery at the Anderson Orthopaedic Research Institute in Virginia. He then returned to Walter Reed as the Director of Adult Reconstruction, where he attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Medical Corps.

Dr. Xenos’ clinical interests include hip, knee and shoulder replacement as well as arthroscopic surgery of the hip. His research interests include biomechanical testing, clinical studies in hip and knee replacement, patient activity levels after joint replacement, diagnosis and treatment outcomes of hip labral pathology and femoral acetabular impingement. Dr. Xenos has presented his research at both national and international venues. His research has also resulted in numerous publications in such journals as the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and has earned several awards including the prestigious Founders Award presented by the Eastern Orthopaedic Association.

Where did summer go? Get those last golf swings in ASAP!

Man, where did summer go?  It seems like just the other day we were gearing up for Amen Corner and a wonderful April weekend at Augusta.  Crazy to think that it’s already been half-a-year since Bubba Watson’s triumphant weekend at The Masters and four months since Webb Simpson lead the US Open field at Olympic Club.  And what about Ernie Els’ magical final round at The Open Championship . . . nearly three months ago already!

It has truly been a phenomenal golf season, which could not have received a better encore than this years’ Ryder Cup.  The incredible European Team’s comeback, the drama of the US Team’s collapse, the pure energy of the game — honestly, I cannot remember the last time I sat glued to my television for the entire weekend, my emotions rising and falling with every swing of the players’ golf clubs.  The Ryder Cup is such a unique and exciting event, and it really made me think about how much fun the 2016 Olympics will be with Golf part of the games.

And now that brings us to autumn and the conclusion of the 2012 Golf Season.  The weather is changing and the leaves are falling . . . and at least here on the East Coast, the fairways are getting ready for hibernation and the greens are getting thicker.  While many sports fans are transitioning from weekend rounds to tailgating, football and playoff baseball, there is still plenty of time to sneak in 9 to 18 holes.  These late-year swings make for unexpected and enjoyable times with friends, and while they do not necessarily breed lasting results for the start of the 2013 season, it will be worth battling the elements to sneak in those final cuts.  After all, a bad day on the course is better than a good day, well, anywhere else . . .

Pacific Northwest Evans Cups Generate Over $250,000 for Evans Scholars

October 3, 2012

by Bill Moses, WGA Director, West Region

KeyBank Team at Evans Cup of Oregon

Federal Way, Wash. – The 15th annual Evans Cup of Oregon, held Monday, September 17 at Waverley Country Club in Portland, and the 21st annual Evans Cup of Washington, held September 24 at Sand Point Country Club in Seattle, combined to raise $250,000 to benefit the Evans Caddie Scholarship Program. The $125,000 raised at the Oregon event was a record-breaking amount.

The funds generated at these annual fundraisers help support the Evans Scholars who attend the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, University of Washington and Washington State University. Currently, there are 49 young men and women Evans Scholars from the Northwest, with each of them receiving four year, full tuition and housing grants valued at over $50,000.

Each year, the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA), Oregon Golf Association (OGA), Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) and Western Golf Association (WGA) Directors conduct these first-class events consisting of a day filled with golf during which current Evans Scholars caddie for participants, gourmet dinner, and upscale silent and live auction items. Funds at these Evans Cups are raised through sponsorships and the auction items. KeyBank is the Presenting Sponsor of both Evans Cups, and is a major contributor in supporting the Evans Caddie Scholarship Program in the Northwest.

Brooks Whittle with Scholars

“It is fantastic to see the enthusiastic support for the Evans Scholarship as we set out to expand the Program in the Northwest,” said Bill Moses, Director of the West Region for the Evans Scholars Foundation.  “We are grateful for all those in the golf community who have so generously contributed to the success of the events.  With the funds raised from the Evans Cups we will be able to make this life-changing opportunity available to more young men and women who will be able to realize their dream of a college education.”

Highlights from both evenings included testimonials from current Scholars, with the young students telling their personal stories to the audience of their efforts in becoming an Evans Scholar and of the impact it has made in their young lives. At the Oregon event, Kate Burr, who is currently attending Oregon State University, spoke about the challenges of being the only female caddie when she first started, and also of the community involvement she has been able to perform while attending university, made possible because the scholarship gave her the time to do so. And at the Washington event, Darcie Richmond spoke of the heartbreak of a family illness, and of the scholarship which relieved her family of the financial burden of sending her to school.

At the Washington event, longtime WGA Director Brooks Whittle was honored for his support in almost single-handedly making the Evans Cup of Washington what it has become today, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars for the scholarships. “I consider all of these kids my grandchildren,” said Whittle, after receiving a standing ovation at the dinner. “To see so many kids be given an opportunity is a great thing, and that’s what I’ve tried to do, just find some way to give them an opportunity to succeed.” It was announced at the dinner that the Evans Cup perpetual trophy, given to the winning team of the day’s golf competition, will now be called the Brooks Whittle Trophy.

Darcie Richmond-Evans Scholar

The Evans Scholars Foundation, sponsored by the Western Golf Association, administers the nation’s largest privately funded college scholarship program, providing full tuition and housing grants to deserving caddies. Since the first two Scholars enrolled at Northwestern University in 1930, nearly 10,000 young men and women have graduated from the program. This year, 835 Evans Scholars are enrolled at 19 universities across the country. In order for high school students to qualify they must be nominated by their golf club and meet the following four requirements: excellent academic record with above a B average in college preparatory classes, have a strong caddie record for two or more years, demonstrate financial need, and have outstanding personal character.


For more information on the Evans Caddie Scholarship Program, including how to apply for scholarships and how a club can provide opportunities for young applicants, please visit

Contact: Bill Moses, WGA Director, West Region

Phone: 253-214-2913 | Email: