Mitch Laurance on Cabot Cliffs’ 18th at sunset • photo by Darin Bunch / GolfTripX
Essays

When your heart stops working, you truly understand the ‘heart of the game’


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I opened my eyes to the sound of my wife screaming. My heart hadn’t just skipped a beat. It had stopped for eight of them. For the time it takes to stand over a shot and let it fly, I was gone. When I came back, I had no memory of it happening. I only heard Ewa. She was standing next to me in the emergency room where she had brought me moments before — after I had almost passed out, suddenly, twice near our home.

After numerous tests and an anxious night, doctors determined I had an “electrical” issue and no major heart or brain damage. By that afternoon I had a new pacemaker, designed to keep my dangerously slow heart rate above 60 beats per minute, every minute for the rest of my life.

After the rush of Gratitude (it more than deserves to be capitalized) for everything I have, most of all for my sacred family and friends, the next thought I had was, “How soon can I play golf again?” When the doctor told me to plan for a two-month break from taking full swings so as not to disturb the wires now running from the pacemaker into my heart, I immediately started running through an internal checklist. What trips, rounds and bookings would need to be changed? What upcoming “Talking GolfGetaways” podcasts with my partner Darin Bunch would I be able to do? And I decided, in an instant, that since I couldn’t take full swings, it would be a perfect time to work on my perpetually ignored short game. I envisioned coming out of the layoff gate with a new confidence in the part of the game I need most given my short(er) hitting and advancing age. In other words, I would be okay.

I tell you this not to garner sympathy but to illustrate how big a part of my life golf is and has been for nearly four decades. Most every wonderful thing in my world I owe to the game. From meeting my wife to making lifelong friends, from traveling the world’s fairways to appreciating the beauty of a solo nine-hole walk near home, golf has been my lifeblood, giving it focus, passion and a center around which to build my days.

And in a beautiful burst of universal synchronicity, this heart episode came as four of my cherished friends and golf-travel partners — Darin Bunch, Ryan Ballengee, Brian Oar and Eric Hart — and I now launch GolfTripX.com with five hearts committed to sharing as much information, fun and downright joy as we can with golfers everywhere. We hope you’ll join in our pursuit of making it possible for the average golfer to get more enjoyment out of everything from a one-day local excursion to a multi-week buddy trip, from familiar tracks to no-longer-hidden gems.

I am beyond grateful for this new gift of Golf Trip Experts camaraderie. We’re all committed to helping you enjoy every planning step, every shot, every course and every destination — and to giving you the opportunity to share your love for the game along with us. It’s going to be a great ride.

I promise. From the bottom of my heart.


About the author

Mitch Laurance

Mitch Laurance

Mitch “McHickory” Laurance is the oldest member of the GolfTripX team, and, as such, brings wisdom, experience and much better stories to the golf/travel table than his cohorts. Co-host and Co-producer of the wildly (insert hyperbolic superlative here) “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, with long-time road and talk partner Darin Bunch, and the Video Host for GolfTripX, Mitch mixes 4 decades of golf and travel passion with former careers as an actor, ESPN Commentator (Championship Billiards), and golf TV Host (“On The Green Golf TV” Myrtle Beach), as well as a hosting resume of more than 300 interview-based podcasts. He loves hickory golf and a good walk, late-night putting contests, haggis, single malt and Sortilege, his Hall of Fame wife Ewa and his dog Louie. Oh….and traveling to strike the dimpled orb.

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