Exclusive: Holmes marvels at his 'second chance'
J.B. Holmes had a piece of his rear skull removed when he had successful brain surgery Sept. 1 to alleviate pressure in the back of his head. He keeps that quarter-sized sample of bone in his closet so he can see it daily.
“It reminds me how lucky I am to be where I am and have a second chance,” Holmes said Wednesday from his parents’ home in Campbellsville, Ky., where he will host a pro-am Friday and Saturday.
As part of the procedure, a piece of titanium was inserted into his skull. That means he not only has that light but strong metal in his driver, but also his head.
“It should give me 5 extra yards,” cracked Holmes, who doesn’t need the yardage, considering he has ranked in the top 7 in driving distance in each of his six PGA Tour seasons, including first this year at 318.4 yards.
On schedule for a full recovery, the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup member began chipping and putting this month, intends to hit iron shots next week and hopes to put his long ball back into competition at the Dec. 9-11 Franklin Templeton Shootout, pending an invitation.
His daily rehabilitation, designed primarily to strengthen his neck muscles, involves using an arm bicycle, walking, balance exercises, making rotational swings with a golf club and taking anti-inflammatory medication. His spirits are high and his head finally light.
“I didn’t realize how much pressure there was until it was gone, and the doctor said there was more than he had thought before the surgery,” the two-time Tour winner said. “I’m anxious to see if I’ll be a little more calm and easier on myself. I’m excited and really looking forward to getting back. I think it will be a big difference for me, so I’m very optimistic about the upcoming year.”
Holmes made about $1.4 million this year but dropped out of the top 60. He began experiencing vertigo-like symptoms in May, suffered headaches and balance problems and says he hit 4-5 squirrelly shots a round.
After Holmes got several medical opinions, doctors concurred in the summer that he was suffering from Chiari malformations – structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. When the indented bony space on the lower rear skull is too small, the subsequent pressure on the brain can cause problems related to dizziness, vision, headaches and coordination.
Four days after he withdrew from the PGA Championship, Holmes visited Dr. George Jallo, a prominent neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and scheduled what he called a “relatively low-risk” surgery.
Holmes is scheduled to see Jallo for checkups Monday and shortly after Thanksgiving.
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A new partnership gets you inside J.B. Holmes' powerful swing
Golfweek is proud to announce a new partnership with ShotVision, a company dedicated to bringing you authentic swing instruction from a handful of golf stars. We are kicking off our partnership with a month-long series with J.B. Holmes and the secrets behind his driving prowess. We also will be displaying tips with Se Ri Pak, Brad Faxon and Orlando-based instructor Brian Mogg.
ShotVision offers you the opportunity to download these swing sequences via the app store, in a paid version and a free version.