While Brooks Koepka was blazing his way through the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, an entire team of healthcare professionals worked behind the scenes to provide those on the course access to medical care.
Among those healthcare providers was Wilton resident Dr. Keith Overland, who offered chiropractic services to the players, caddies, U.S. Golf Association staff and volunteers at the tournament held June 11-17 in Sninnecock, N.Y.
Not obvious to television viewers, Overland told The Bulletin “essentially, there’s a large USGA city built around the U.S. Open” to offer a variety of services to the 156 golfers, caddies, staff and volunteers involved in the weeklong event. Included is a tent where services from medical, to podiatry, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, personal training and more were offered.
While the most elite golfers may travel with their own doctors and trainers, many others travel week to week on the tour with little opportunity to schedule their own medical appointments. Thus, “many use these amenities from the USGA as their health care system,” he said. “We had people from Australia, France, Costa Rica, the U.S. — from around the world.”
Overland, whose practice is in Norwalk, offered to work two five-hour shifts during the practice days. “Over that time, I saw 12 to 14 patients, including some golfers, caddies, and even the USGA barber,” he said.
“It’s really very interesting, seeing people who are elite athletes and the different injuries. I had one guy who had a sinus inflammation, he’s allergic to grass and Shinnecock is all grass, and he hurt himself from sneezing and coughing,” Overland said.
While that may be a little unusual, back problems are not. “There’s really no other sport that’s as bad for your back as golf,” Overland said. “Your feet are planted, you’re twisting your body and doing it for hours at a time, plus the physical and mental stress of competition.
“Lower back pain is almost an epidemic in the golf world,” he said. Back in his office on Monday, Overland said he was emailing exercise protocols to players he saw during the tournament. “They don’t have a chance to see anyone otherwise.”
Working with professional and amateur athletes is not new to Overland. He has been a team doctor for the New York Mets Baseball Club and for the U.S. Speedskating Team during the Salt Lake City Olympic games. He last worked at the U. S. Open Golf championships in Pinehurst, N.C., in 2014. During his 37 years in Norwalk he also has worked as a team doctor for many local college, high school and club teams.
Asked if he gets out on the course, Overland described himself as a “fund-raising golfer. If they need a body, I go out and play.”
As for treating elite athletes, he said he wanted the community to know the same services available to the pros are available right here.
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