Drug abuse in golf

Australian Craig Parry has called for a drug code in golf as he believes some players are using drugs to "win majors"...

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Martin Park
Mon, 18 Dec 2000

Drug abuse in golf

This summer highlighted the use of drugs in sport with many illicit appearances in the Olympics. Now, drug use is coming under the watchful eyes of some of the top players in the world and the issue is coming to a head as some players are calling for a drug code to be introduced to golf.

In Australia, Craig Parry has spoken out about his knowledge of three players within the last decade who have used drugs and won major championships. One of those players is Zimbabwean Nick Price, winner of three majors in the last ten years, who admittedly used ‘Beta Blockers’ for his own health and in no way said that they enhanced his performance.

Beta Blockers are used medically to control the pace of the heart and clam nerves and its use in golf is controversial as it could be seen as “performance enhancing”, especially when a player is under pressure playing the last few holes of a big tournament and in contention.

But the drug, although restricted, is legal to be prescribed by a Doctor to help heart conditions and nervous tension. The drug has been used by players in other sports such as snooker and the former chairman of the WPSBA (World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association) Rex Williams admitted to using it, also for medical reasons.

Parry, among others, has called for a drug code to be introduced into golf as he feels that the issue is getting out of hand and can improve a players performance on the course.

But this week, the new Chairman of the Australian PGA, Wayne Grady, the 1990 USPGA Champion refuted Parry’s call for a drug code within the game.

Grady said: "It's not in my area of expertise. But I don't think performance-enhancing drugs would help golfers anyway.

Drugs have been used in golf previously when the short tempered Tommy Bolt, a legendary club thrower and temper tantrum specialist, known to have snapped clubs in the middle of his round out of anger and frustration, admitted to using the powerful drug Valium to help him clam his short fuse.

Five times Open Champion Peter Thomson recalled a story Bolt once told him while he was using the drug.

"Tommy Bolt had a ferocious temper” Said Thomson. “He was prone to outbursts during a round. So he took Valium to calm himself down.

"I asked him one day how the pills were going, and he said 'Great. I'm still three-putting, but I don't give a damn anymore!!!'"