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September 3, 2013

A round of golf can keep you in stitches

By Cary Brunswick
The Daily Star

---- — Over the decades, I’ve been hit with a few stray balls while on the golf course, but I’d never been hit with a golf club, intentionally or otherwise, until last week.

The round started routinely enough, Steve and me against Ted and Matt, and after two holes, the match was even. Then, as I walked onto the third tee, my partner decided to take a one-armed practice back swing with his driver. Wham; it got me smack-dab in the middle of the forehead.

I groaned, leaned forward and instinctively put my hand over the point of impact, as my companions rushed over, asking, “Let’s see; is it bleeding?” I pulled my hand away, and, sure enough, blood was gushing out of the gash and had ruined my golf glove.

Ted had a first-aid kit in his bag and applied a bandage to the wound, but blood continued to pour out around it. I dabbed my forehead with a wet towel and the bleeding slowly diminished.

“How do you feel? Can you keep playing?’’

“I guess so,’’ I said. “I wish I had a mirror so I could see the cut. How big is it?’’

“Maybe an inch,” Steve replied, grimacing as he viewed the damage.

Anyway, realizing that the only ailment that justifies calling off a match is the one that would require a port-a-john on every hole, I decided to continue. (That decision later would be called “foolish’’ by numerous commentators, including my wife.)

I proceeded to lacerate the next hole, three-putting from 10 feet for a double bogey. “These guys are ruthless,’’ I said to Steve, ``they wouldn’t give me that three-foot putt, with blood streaming down my face.’’

Soon, the bleeding stopped and I got my game back, shooting a 76. Steve, feeling terrible about the assault, didn’t recover and carded a 90. We lost the match.

In the locker room, I surveyed the gash; it was seriously gaping and I figured it might need stitches.

By then, of course, it was too late to get in to see my physician (because I had completed the golf round). So, I ended up in the ER at Fox Hospital, since I was told there was an eight-hour window to get a cut sewn up.

The nurses and other attendants at the ER were courteous, though I noticed a bit of skepticism about my explanation for the wound. I had forgotten to bring a photo ID, and the registrar even appeared a bit skeptical that I was indeed Cary Brunswick.

An attendant who came in the room to prepare the proper tools and materials for stitches said it had been a busy day and he had four more hours to work. “With luck, maybe you’ll be out of here by then,’’ he said.

Eventually, the physician came in and asked about my last tetanus shot. I admitted that it probably was about 40 or 50 years ago, so he suggested one. 

“I don’t know,’’ I said, “the golf club was pretty clean; it wasn’t the part that hits the ground that got me.’’ But I relented.

A short time later, a nurse entered to do the tetanus shot, warning that my injected arm would be sore for two or three days.

“Two or three days! I can’t do it,’’ I reacted. “I have a golf tournament this weekend. The county amateur.’’

He looked at me like I was dazed and confused, and reluctantly left the room. He must have reported me, because soon the head nurse came in to make sure I didn’t have a concussion that might be affecting my decision-making. I passed the tests, perhaps surprising the entire ER.

Finally, it was time for the stitches. As I lay down, I asked the physician if he had done faces before. He replied that he had been doing stitches for 18 or 19 years, and proceeded to sew up my gash with five of them. I was out of the ER in two-and-a-half hours.

Apparently the doc did a great job, though I necessarily looked like Frankenstein for five days. After a nurse friend removed the stitches, the wound was tight and was hardly noticeable, blending in well with the wrinkles and lines already present.

Some members at the country club were wondering — perhaps hopefully — if getting banged on the head like that might have a permanent impact on my thinking.

“No, I think I’m still a liberal,’’ I would respond.

Cary Brunswick, of Oneonta, is a freelance writer and editor. He can be reached at The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.