When we discuss cannabis in professional sports, the topic usually arises after a new study surrounding medical marijuana and brain damage or injury recovery or the suspension of a famous basketball or football player after a positive drug test. In golf, though, we rarely hear about the grass that gets lit away from the tee, but according to one anonymous pro, the sport of leisure’s highest ranks are home to a number of stoners, with increasing levels of leniency towards the plant that he claims is creating an even headier atmosphere on the back nine.
Quietly, the PGA Tour has recently changed their substance abuse policy, adding blood tests to help weed out duffers using steroids or human growth hormone to bulk up and moving the threshold of a cannabis infraction from 15 nanograms of THC per liter of blood to 150, a 10x increase in accepted THC levels.
In an anonymous article for Golf Digest, one 420-friendly pro says that marijuana use is par for the course on tour, claiming that weed is both readily accepted, and acknowledged as similar to alcohol in its performance impeding effects. Still, on days when he is already out of the running for a tournament’s top spot, but still under obligation to fulfill his professional responsibilities, the unnamed pro says he’ll hit the green before hitting the green as a way to “treat myself to making the day a little more fun, or at least different.” Adding, “I've smoked beforehand with the other players in my group, too.”
Even under the previously stricter tour testing regulations, the article’s author says that a failed test once landed him a trip to Charlotte for a one hour session with a PGA-approved counselor, three more sessions with a local psychologist, and nothing more.
“I was honest but had the impression he couldn't have cared less about my answers. We were just going through the motions, establishing a paper trail that the matter had been addressed,” the incognito pro wrote.
In addition to his own half-hearted counseling session, the author says he knows a handful of other pros who have experienced the exact same slap on the wrist.
As for the new PGA drug testing policy, the anonymous golfer has already checked with a doctor and estimates that, if he keeps thoroughly hydrated, he’ll be able to smoke 12 days out of the month without passing the 150 nanogram limit, and he plans to do just that.
It’s not quite a full league sanction, but the NFL, NBA and MLB could certainly stand to learn a few things about substance abuse policy reform from their peers in polos and khakis.