Copyright © 2020 PGA Publishing 2020

Wildernesse Golf Club member’s life saved by PGA Professional Green


David Green’s training on his club’s defibrillator and CPR helped save a golfer’s life after a cardiac arrest, and he’s now determined to get every golf club equipped and every pro shop trained, writes Charles DeHaan.

Garett Endenburg, who has been working in the city’s global insurance market for over 20 years, is a very lucky 53-year-old.  On Saturday 7th September he was playing golf with his son Josh and two friends when at around 4pm on the seventh tee at Wildernesse, he complained of feeling unwell and chest pains.

Out on the furthest part of the course from the clubhouse, his friends tried using their mobile phones to call the emergency services, while Josh tried calling the club to send a buggy, but when poor reception prevented them getting through, Josh started running back to the clubhouse.

As luck would have it, one of the others then saw a greenkeeper on a gator checking the greens for a competition, and ran over to him.  The greenkeeper then drove Garett, in pain but still fully conscious, back to the pro shop where head professional David Green, after calling 999, took charge.

As Garett says: “I was so fortunate that David was fully trained and had the equipment to hand. Everyone said how calm and confident David was with the defibrillator and CPR. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to David, Josh and everyone else for saving my life. Things could have been very different.”

Indeed they could. According to David Sullivan, a client of Green’s who runs Heart Angels, an Oxted-based organisation providing defibrillators and training, of the 600+ male golfers who suffer a cardiac arrest on a golf course every year, some 400 are fatal because the means to save them wasn’t available fast enough. And for those who think cardiac arrest is only an issue for much older males, four of David’s closest friends, all fit and active sports players aged between 42 and 51, all died of cardiac arrests between 2015 and 2016

Trained on CPR and defibrillators, Green immediately recognised Garett’s symptoms – breathlessness and complaining of chest pains – but within two minutes of Garett walking into the pro shop, he’d collapsed. “Once someone’s collapsed, you’ve got an eight minute window to save their life,” explained Green. “That’s when my training kicked in. First, Josh and I had to get Garett into the recovery position on the floor.”

“By the time we’d retrieved the defibrillator from the clubhouse, Garett had no pulse. We cleared his airway and fired up the defibrillator which simultaneously started talking me through what to do while checking Garett for a heartbeat. There wasn’t one, so the red light came on and we shocked Garett’s heart to start pumping blood again – and therefore vital oxygen – back around his brain and body. We then applied CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation – with almost violent chest compressions to keep his heart pumping.”

The paramedic car arrived first and the ambulance arrived 25 minutes later.  Green said: “Garett left the shop at 5pm and 45 minutes later he was in the Cardiac Unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, where two stents were fitted. Yet by 6.45pm he was sitting upright in bed having tea and sandwiches! He was discharged on the Monday and to my amazement, came into my pro shop on the Tuesday to thank me, looking back to normal.”

Green commented: “It was an experience, that’s for sure, and not one you want too often. But this episode has also made me determined to get CPR and defibrillator training into the PGA’s own training programme. Not all golf clubs have a defibrillator, and those that do may not always have the trained staff on hand to provide emergency treatment.”

He added: “For me, when I look more closely at this experience, I believe there are four imperatives:

  1. All PGA Professionals and their staff must be trained to deal with a situation of cardiac arrest, starting with the PGA training programme which must incorporate this.
  2. Training is vital and although the defibrillators are idiot-proof, you still need the confidence to use one. If someone is confronted with a situation of life or death, would they be able to respond confidently without the training – and how would they feel if they find they can’t do it?
  3. Being able to deal with the after-affects: the PGA already has provision for counselling through their Member benefits programme.
  4. Golf clubs need to ensure emergency services can access their golf courses safely and quickly.

“Between all of us, we’re going to see what we can do to change this, and help PGA Professionals and golf clubs to save lives.”