Dan Jenkins says ‘Amy softened my pain’ after the father of three watched on as his dreams were shattered again
Two-time Masters champion reveals how his wife helped bring him back from the brink
One of golf’s most respected reporters has opened up about his biggest round of depression, saying his wife helped him beat it.
Dan Jenkins was golf writer for the Kansas City Star before retiring in 2003.
But Jenkins has returned to report on golf on PGA and Golf Digest.
For him, the turning point in his life came when his life was turned upside down in 2005.
He said: “I was lying in a bed outside a clinic in the mid-northern peninsular of Florida about to have a coronary bypass surgery, which I had longed for.
“I had had nothing left to live for except golf. Suddenly I had it all in my hands.
“The operation had gone so well the surgeon announced to me, which astonished me, that I should take a few weeks off before returning to a routine golf schedule to adjust. I did it. At first I thought, as an obvious lie, but then I had to stop myself.
“I guess one of the hardest things to understand about depression is the feeling that the world is a cruel and dismal place. For many people, I felt that way.
“While I was in rehab I slept in my office or on the sofa that next to the patient room for months. I ate often and only in moderation. By the end of a week I was exhausted.
“When my body was in such a state of exhaustion one morning I woke and noticed all the tissue under my armpits that didn’t show. This led me to think that I had a parasite. A few days later I was diagnosed with pneumococcal disease, which meant I had smallpox.
“I was in a bad place. My caddie did his best, but he was so tired and unnerved by my condition that he felt he couldn’t tell me if he was getting the story straight or if he was being bribed.
“Finally, Amy started a little on-air interview about her work ethic and her love of her job. I had never before made myself a habit of listening to anyone who doesn’t either read my work or share my hatred of them. But she was sincere, a really sweet woman, and the interview made me laugh a few times.
“I didn’t know what to make of all of this, except that I had once again been brought low by things I could not control. I was almost out of energy. My body was out of whack. The job was made more difficult by the fact that I suffered from insomnia and most of the time my mind remained in a frenzy of sadness and misery.
“It was my wife’s reaction to my misery that calmed me down. She took me away from the adulation of television and the constant references to my greatness. She walked the dog and kept us connected.”
Jenkins admitted his profession had made his depression worse. “You just keep pitching yourself more and more far from the ones who love you. But somehow I got to where I was and thought I needed to see a psychiatrist.”
The author said he came up with a plan to beat the disease. “I decided that I would give away 10% of my book sales to two charities that I know well: SUICIDE PREVENTION JUNCTION JOCKEYS (here, the 1 in 5 movement) and the JOCKEYS’ WHISTLE BLOWER NETWORK.
“I promised myself that I would never go back to that place again. I did. I have been back to the doctor only a few times.”
Jenkins, 72, now spends his time telling other golfers how to survive, especially if they struggle.
He said: “For many of my friends in the profession, golf has always been an escape from living. It can be a lot better than driving to work and selling ads on a golf course. If you’ve decided that golf is all you want, keep finding ways to say ‘no’ to it. Maybe golf is good medicine for you.
“If golf is all you have, I would not assume you have to follow all the rules of daily living. Golf isn’t diet and insurance. For many people, golf is the answer.”