Bogeys still sting. So do the bad rounds and missed cuts. But the really tough part for Jeff Klauk is when he senses that his children are worried about him.
“I tell ’em all the time, ‘Daddy will be all right.’ “
He means it, too, although he certainly knows why they might harbor fears. It registered with them those few years when he couldn’t do the simplest thing, like drive them to games or out to get something to eat. “Asking people to drive you around all the time? It hits you pretty hard,” he said.
But Klauk’s history with epilepsy, which dates to 2006 and rushed to the forefront in 2010 when he had his first partial-onset seizure, appears under control, thankfully, and this past February he was able to drive for the first time in two years. Small stuff to me, you, and the rest of the world, but oh, what it means to the 35-year-old.
“I can take the kids to sports games and sporting events, like Jaguar games,” he said.
Of course, the epilepsy did more than take Klauk from out behind the wheel of the family car. It took him off the golf course, for the most part.
Having persevered through seven long years on the Nationwide Tour, Klauk in 2009 finally earned his PGA Tour and everything about what he did had you smiling for his diligence. In 29 starts he made 21 cuts, earned $1,243,696, and finished top 10 three times.
Everything about the future appeared bright.
Who could have predicted that things would become so dark, so frightening, so unknown? The visits to doctors, the different medications, the uncertainty of it all? Klauk as experienced it all. “This really has been a journey with epilepsy,” he said.
His 2010 PGA Tour season was limited to 13 tournaments, though it was more than epilepsy that year. A back injury was his downfall, too. He played in just eight tournaments in 2011, skipped all of 2012, and all the while he did what patients in his condition must do – he experimented to see which medication was best.
Through diligent work to find the best doctors and the correct medication, Klauk teamed up with the folks at UCB, Inc., a global pharmaceutical company. “I don’t want people settling for average care,” he said. “People with epilepsy have to go after it.”
Even after that first partial-onset seizure, Klauk didn’t get an official epilepsy diagnosis until 2011. He then began working with an epiletologist and a new treatment.
The search for the right medication and the correct dosage has been painstaking, but it’s a crucial part of the regimen.
“When you’re taking medicine, you have to try some different ones for a couple of days to see what work,” he said.
Throughout the journey, Klauk has learned much about the disease and even more about himself. He’s also been approached by many people – even some caddies and players – who have offered Klauk thanks for taking the lead on a disease that effects three million Americans and 65 worldwide.
“I’m not afraid of embarrassed to be talking about the life challenge that has been presented to me,” Klauk said.
Having joined UCB’s efforts, Klauk is a spokesman, so to speak, for the drug Vimpat (lacosamide) C-V, and the website ourtimeourpledge.com provides more information.
Meanwhile, Klauk feels as if things are under control and he’s back playing golf. Though the still isn’t where he’d like (in 14 Web.com Tour stops he’s made just $20,036 and he’s also had spots in eight PGA Tour tournaments), it’s far more important that he’s where he’d like to be with the disease.
“It’s definitely easier for me to keep things in perspective,” he said. “The game still gets me down, but I have a great support team and I’m grateful for all everybody has done for me.”