Gail Johnsen went into shoulder surgery six years ago ambivalent at best about anything sporting and came out three hours later … obsessed with golf?
Yep, by the time her long convalescence at home was over, she had learned everything she could about the game from the Golf Channel and her husband Carl, a holiday golfer at most. At her physical therapist’s suggestion, she volunteered at the 2012 Ryder Cup in Chicago, and starting next week she will do the same along with 3,900 other volunteers at Hazeltine National Golf Club, not far from her Lakeville home.
“The TV didn’t leave the Golf Channel for the 12 weeks I was off work,” said Johnsen, an employee in Ecolab’s credit department. “I was like a human sponge. I got every golf magazine there is. I wanted to read every single detail. I wanted my husband to explain: What’s a birdie? What’s a bogey? What’s an eagle? I still don’t get all the rules.”
After asking around during a medical checkup one day, she believes the surgical staff discussed golf — and maybe even Phil Mickelson — while a doctor repaired her rotator cuff that day, a month before the Masters tournament.
“I’ve raised kids, but I’ve never had a hobby, a passion as much as this,” she said. “In three hours of surgery, I absorbed golf and I have not been the same.”
She took two lessons and her teaching pro saw potential, but she stopped, afraid of reinjuring her shoulder. She was a Ryder Cup clubhouse greeter at Medinah Golf Club in 2012, a duty that brought her near Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy and others. She will volunteer in the merchandise tent this time and watch the action after her morning shift.
Her husband wishes the Do-It-Yourself network had been discussed in the operating room that day.
“We could have got a lot of home projects done,” Carl Johnsen said. “But if she is going to have a habit, this is a good one to have.”