USA Today article - PGA Tour Winner Benefits from the Andrews Institute
By Jerry Potter, USA Today
Pate drives through shoulder ailment for love of playing
On a day that was windy, overcast and cold by Florida standards, Jerry Pate was playing golf with a couple of amateurs near his home in Pensacola.
"I’m just choppin’ it around, having fun," he said, talking on his cellphone between shots last week.
Earlier in the day he spent two hours, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., going through a series of rehabilitation exercises at the Andrews Institute for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in nearby Gulf Breeze.
When he isn’t playing a Champions Tour event he’s at the institute every morning, doing things to protect his shoulders, which have been repaired surgically five times in 25 years.
The last surgery was in 2006, when he had his right shoulder repaired after winning the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, a Champions Tour event in Tampa. Ten days ago in Hawaii he won the Turtle Bay Championship and dedicated the victory to his trainer in Birmingham.
This week he’ll try again at the Allianz Championship, which begins Friday in Boca Raton, Fla. For certain, he’ll be praising modern medicine and specifically Jim Andrews, the noted sports medicine doctor from Birmingham.
"The reality is that a lot of medicine is trial and error," said Pate, 54. "That’s why doctors call it practicing medicine."
For pro golfers in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s there was little knowledge of how to treat injuries. Jack Nicklaus won 73 tournaments on the PGA Tour in that period, but he did it despite constant back pain.
"I’ve had back problems since I was a kid," Nicklaus says. "In the old days they used injections. I had 25 in my hip in a 10-week period. That’s how my hip got destroyed."
Nicklaus, 68, has had his left hip replaced, and he doesn’t play competitive golf anymore. For more than 20 years he has kept fit and remained active through an exercise program prescribed by Pete Egoscue, whom Nicklaus describes as an "anatomical functionalist."
Pate depends on traditional help from Andrews, plus Scott deMahy, the director of rehabilitation at the institute, and Russ Orr, the performance manager for Athletes’ Performance at the institute.
"Jerry has a tremendous amount of motivation and desire," Orr said. "When you have that the end point is limitless."
He was an exceptional golfer and one of a few considered as a possible replacement for Nicklaus. He won the U.S. Amateur championship when he was 19 and the U.S. Open when he was 22. He won eight Tour events before he was 29.
While practicing for the British Open in ’82 Pate felt pain in his left shoulder that was the beginning of a long dark period that could have ended his career. Through his 30s, when he should have been at his peak, he played a limited schedule because of torn tissue in his shoulder.
Although frustrated, he turned his energy and interest in golf to other areas, working in TV and creating an empire that now includes a golf course design business and a golf course equipment distributorship.
Asked about his wealth, Pate responded politely, "I have a company of 150 employees."
Clearly, he doesn’t have to play tournament golf for the money. For sure he doesn’t have to be in a rehab center at 6 every morning, stretching, bending, doing exercises and lifting weights just so he can compete against guys he beat in the past.
"I lost a lot of my career," he said. "For about 15 years I didn’t get a chance to show my skills at what I’d worked to do since I was 6 years old."
He contends his sacrifice now is not about trying to reclaim those lost years. "My goal (at the Allianz Championship) is to tee it up and win," Pate said. "On the other hand it’s not a matter of life or death. It’s doing things I like to do — play golf and entertain people."