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Opinion & Analysis

What is CBD, and why are so many golfers using it? A roundtable discussion



Our John Lahtinen discussed CBD’s soaring popularity in the golf world in a November piece. Based on feedback to that feature, GolfWRX’s editors thought a deeper dive into the elixir was warranted.

We talked to key figures at three companies that produce CBD products for more perspective—Ed Donnelly, founder of AmourCBD, Jay Hartenbach, CEO of Medterra, and Dr. Steven Kraus, President and COO of Functional Remedies.

You can find our conversation below.

GolfWRX: Clearly, CBD is exploding in popularity in professional golf, both in terms of golfers using products containing the substance and sponsor involvement. What makes CBD appealing for golfers in particular?

Ed Donnelly: There are two main areas where golfers are discovering tremendous satisfaction from our AmourCBD products. These areas would be pain relief and anxiety management. On the pain front, conditions like strains, sprains and especially arthritis are greatly helped with our FDA registered AmourCBD Advanced Pain Relieving cream. If I am representative of a 60-year-old golfer, I always have aches and pains before and after a round of golf. CBD has been scientifically shown to offer 30 times the anti-inflammatory relief of traditional pain relief creams or oral products like Tylenol and Ibuprophen. Personally, my hands and wrists can talk to me the entire round and let me know they are uncomfortable. I started using our AmourCBD cream after a round and the pain was relieved rapidly due to the combination of CBD and Lidocaine. AmourCBD Advanced Pain Relieving Cream is the only FDA registered CBD cream on the market today. Then I got smart and applied the AmourCBD cream BEFORE a round and it was my most comfortable round in as long as I can remember.

Jay Hartenbach: With CBD’s ability to help a golfer loosen up before the round and support recovery after a long round, golfers of all ages can benefit from CBD in multiple areas. And with golf being as much mental as it is physical, CBD’s ability to help support mental calm throughout the round is helping give even recreational golfers an edge.

Dr. Steven Kraus: Golfers are searching for a natural wellness product that helps their recovery and preparedness in any activity. It just so happens that golf, like most any activity in life, gets better results when a person is well-rested, focused, calm and relaxed.

GolfWRX: It’s interesting that given the stigma (declining, but a stigma still) associated with consuming something derived from the cannabis plant, and given the relatively conservative nature of golf, we’re seeing such rapid adoption. Can you speak to that?

Ed Donnelly: Excellent question, but in addition to what you say about golfers, many are very smart and also desperate for solutions to our discomfort so we can keep playing and even play better. Bottom line is that our AmourCBD works. Also, our cream is FDA registered giving our intelligent golfers the confidence that they are using a product that complies with FDA Registration requirements. It is formulated in an FDA certified facility according to FDA standards and has been tested to ensure safety.

Jay Hartenbach: Despite being more conservative in nature, golfers are always looking for ways to improve their game. Based on our feedback, CBD is helping lower scores without any significant drawbacks.

Dr. Steven Kraus: Not only is the golf world rapidly adopting hemp oil CBD, all of America and the rest of the world are also rapidly adopting the use. It’s simple: People want natural, effective products without the side-effects like you see on TV with pharmaceutical drug commercials.

GolfWRX: Can you dig a little deeper into the science behind CBD?

Ed Donnelly: As mentioned previously, there have been scientific studies that demonstrate that CBD contains 30x the anti-inflammatory properties of traditional pain relievers available over the counter. People try it and are amazed at how AmourCBD cream works and works fast. And there is no odor, another blessing.

As for anxiety and stress reduction, the reports are all subjective with people suggesting that they feel more relaxed, concentrate better are less stressed, but there are no traditional double-blind medical studies that I can point to.

Jay Hartenbach: Our body produces compounds called endocannabinoids that help maintain the body’s natural equilibrium. This homeostasis controls a variety of functions in the body including stress response, sleep, runaway inflammation, and so much more. There are a variety of factors that can disrupt the body’s production of these endocannabinoids including our diet, high-stress levels, and genetics. CBD, which is a phytocannabinoid, is a way to supplement the endocannabinoid system and help the body get back to its normal levels.

Dr. Steven Kraus: The term CBD is for one specific molecule called Cannabidiol. However, the effectiveness and wellness properties of the hemp plant is due to far more than one molecule. Some CBD products only provide just the singular CBD molecule, which still has benefits but are limiting. The true benefits are within the entire array of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. There are over 100 cannabinoids in the hemp plant. Our body has the endocannabinoid system and is taught in every physiology textbook in medical school. There are cannabinoid receptors in our brain, musculoskeletal system, skin, and immunologic systems that all have various cannabinoid receptors that the various cannabinoids react with. CBD has antipsychotic effects. These naturally occurring chemicals can impact our neurotransmitters in a positive manner in the brain and in the various systems of the body. For example, the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can impact mood, digestion, bone density, and sexual function. If our body is not producing the correct amounts of these biochemicals leading to resultant chemical imbalances, that can affect body functions. CBD influences certain receptors that involve the regulation of serotonin. CBD also shows promise in the treatment of anxiety disorders according to a 2015 review of studies in the journal Neurotherapeutics. According to the investigators, CBD demonstrated a potent anxiety-relieving effect. There is a need for much more research. The National Institute of Health (NIH) database shows that there are over 160 trials involving CBD at the present time. The simple thing to remember is that cannabinoids are also produced in the human body. Due to stress, anxiety and other social and physical forces in today’s lifestyle, sometimes our body does not produce enough. Balancing the deficit with the correct array of phytonutrients and cannabinoids can help balance the wellness we all are searching to achieve in a natural, organic fashion without the synthetic side-effects.

GolfWRX: There are two lanes of skepticism here, right? One is “all of this stuff is snake oil” and the second is “while some of it might not be, you don’t know what you’re getting when you buy from a particular manufacturer.” Can you address these positions?

Ed Donnelly: This is an excellent question. I am a 35-year health care company executive who has worked in big companies working with the FDA. When I decided to enter this market, I was committed to doing it right! We took a year to develop our product and voluntarily put it through the FDA registration process. We are the only FDA-registered pain-relieving cream with CBD and Lidocaine. Lidocaine is an “active ingredient” by the FDA definition, but so is menthol that is used in other CBD creams; yet other companies ignore the FDA requirements to go through the time and cost of the FDA registration process. This was never an option for us. We want to be and are rapidly becoming the CBD brand that the consumers can trust. I want to be clear that the FDA registration process is currently only required for products that contain active ingredients like Lidocaine and Menthol. The implication is that our oils, pills, and gummies are pure CBD, do not have an active ingredient, and therefore are not FDA Registered, but we manufacture to the same FDA standards, utilize the same broad-spectrum CBD oil with 0.0 percent THC. Consumers can trust AmourCBD.

Jay Hartenbach: I will be the first one to agree that CBD cannot cure everything. In fact, it can help with a lot less than people give CBD credit for. What we do know is that CBD has shown potential as being an anti-inflammatory agent and a serotonin modulator. There are a variety of conditions that have some tie into inflammation and therefore any compound that can help with that inflammation has the potential to be beneficial. In addition, research shows that imbalanced serotonin levels can create a variety of issues like anxiety.

From a quality standpoint, consumers should be informed as to where there CBD is coming from. There are a fair amount of fly-by-night CBD companies looking to cash in on the short term hype that may be cutting corners on quality and contaminant testing. One of the easier ways for consumers to tell if the CBD company is legitimate is to look for the U.S. Hemp Authority seal, which is an orange “H” on packages. There are over 30 companies certified with this seal and consumers can be confident that the product they are buying is legitimate.

Dr. Steven Kraus: With over 800 different companies selling “CBD,” some of them are simply trying to make a buck by buying hemp oil from some farmer or garage distillery not knowing if it is safe, tested, or what else was added or modulated. Simply put, you have to do some research to know that you are getting pure, organic, full-spectrum hemp oil that contains the entire entourage of cannabinoids to give the best results for your wellness. We encourage consumers to go with a company that is vertically integrated where they control the seed, plant, manufacturing extraction of hemp oil, and the packaging, including all of the third-party quality and purity testing. Essentially, it’s a seed-to-bottle control over the process to assure there is 100 percent safety and quality assurances. One way to do that is to be sure they are GMP certified. GMP is the set of federal regulations governed by the FDA to assure that a company practices good manufacturing processes for dietary supplements, food, and cosmetics. It is a very rigorous on-site evaluation of the entire process and personnel training of your manufacturing processes.

GolfWRX: A third concern is the possibility of ingesting THC (a psychoactive substance). Can you speak to this?

Ed Donnelly: I had the exact concern when I looked into CBD products. Products would say they contain less than .3 percent THC, which is virtually nothing. My response to our chemists was that I do not want less than .3 percent, rather, I want 0.0000. Absolutely zero THC. It costs me more to buy this zero THC oil, but our customers are worth it.

Jay Hartenbach: We have made the commitment to being a THC-free company. Due to the psychoactive effects and drug testing policies in the U.S., it was an easy decision for us given our belief that CBD should be accessible for all those that can benefit from it.

Dr. Steven Kraus: THC is tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana that gives a person the high effect. The USDA has determined that .3 percent THC is allowed in any CBD product in their interim final rule that was released in October 2019. The amount of THC to elicit any type of “high” effect is far greater than .3. Scientists have shown that it is impossible to get high from that low dose of THC.

GolfWRX: Are there any other common questions you’re hearing from golfers regarding CBD?

Ed Donnelly: The pain-relieving cream speaks for itself and the response we get is “Oh my God, where has this been?” Pain, especially chronic arthritis pain, is manageable, and often goes away when the cream is applied. People ask how much to apply and our advice is less than you think, use sparingly and rub it in.

Jay Hartenbach: How should I take it? CBD can be taken both orally and applied topically. We recommend taking CBD orally if you are looking for more general needs or to help mentally. For those with more localized needs, the topical products are great for quick application and results.

Dr. Steven Kraus: People want to know what ailments does it help with your body. According to the WebMD website, it states that it seems to reduce pain and anxiety. Others like Scott McCarron, 2019 winner on the Champions Tour, have stated that better sleep and recovery resulted.

GolfWRX: What are the most common ways golfers are integrating CBD into their lifestyles? If someone is considering taking the CBD plunge, how do you advise them to begin)

Ed Donnelly: If someone has knee, hand, lower back pain, try the AmourCBD Advanced pain relief cream before and after a round. Many people trying to relax will take gummies, which contain 10mg of CBD, and chew them on the round. If they get comfortable with ingesting and feel the benefits vis-a-vis stress and anxiety, they can utilize oils or pills pre-round.

Jay Hartenbach: My advice, golfer or not, is to start slow with a trusted brand. Try taking a moderate amount between 25-35mg per day to see how your body reacts to it. After a few days, increase or decrease as needed.

Dr. Steven Kraus: Each person’s endocannabinoid system in their body is unique, like a fingerprint. They all seem very similar upon casual observation, but each is unique. The amount or dosage of CBD can be different depending on many variables. The simplest approach is to start with a lower dose and see how that affects you the first two days, then go higher if no effect was noticed. Small incremental dosing usually works. The instructions on the bottle describe what one dose amount should be taken, and persons should not exceed that dose unless prescribed to do so from their health care provider. If somebody is using a poorly manufactured product, it likely will not help at all.

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  1. Gtaj

    Jan 31, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    What is CBD? And why are so many people trying to make money by hyping it?

    • gwelfgulfer

      Feb 1, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Likely the same reason for making stupid comments on an internet forum, only they are making money…

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Opinion & Analysis

Clark: A teacher’s take on Brandel Chamblee’s comments



Because I’m writing to a knowledgeable audience who follows the game closely, I’m sure the current Brandel Chamblee interview and ensuing controversy needs no introduction, so let’s get right to it.

Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, now plays a role as a TV personality. He has built a “brand” around that role. The Golf Channel seems to relish the idea of Brandel as the “loose cannon” of the crew (not unlike Johnny Miller on NBC) saying exactly what he thinks with seeming impunity from his superiors.

I do not know the gentleman personally, but on-air, he seems like an intelligent, articulate golf professional, very much on top of his subject matter, which is mostly the PGA Tour. He was also a very capable player (anyone who played and won on the PGA Tour is/was a great player). But remember, nowadays he is not being judged by what scores he shoots, but by how many viewers/readers his show and his book have (ratings). Bold statements sell, humdrum ones do not.

For example, saying that a teacher’s idiocy was exposed is a bold controversial statement that will sell, but is at best only partly true and entirely craven. If the accuser is not willing to name the accused, he is being unfair and self-serving. However, I think it’s dangerous to throw the baby out with the bathwater here; Brandel is a student of the game and I like a lot of what he says and thinks.

His overriding message in that interview is that golf over the last “30-40 years” has been poorly taught. He says the teachers have been too concerned with aesthetics, not paying enough attention to function. There is some truth in that, but Brandel is painting with a very broad brush here. Many, myself included, eschewed method teaching years ago for just that reason. Method teachers are bound to help some and not others. Maybe the “X swing” one player finds very useful, another cannot use it all.

Brandel was asked specifically about Matthew Wolff’s unique swing: Lifting the left heel, crossing the line at the top, etc. He answered, “of course he can play because that’s how he plays.” The problem would be if someone tried to change that because it “looked odd.” Any teacher worth his weight in salt would not change a swing simply because it looked odd if it was repeating good impact. I learned from the great John Jacobs that it matters not what the swing looks like if it is producing great impact.

Now, if he is objecting exclusively to those method teachers who felt a certain pattern of motions was the one true way to get to solid impact, I agree with him 100 percent. Buy many teach on an individual, ball flight and impact basis and did not generalize a method. So to say “golf instruction over the last 30-40 years” has been this or that is far too broad a description and unfair.

He goes on to say that the “Top Teacher” lists are “ridiculous.” I agree, mostly. While I have been honored by the PGA and a few golf publications as a “top teacher,” I have never understood how or why. NOT ONE person who awarded me those honors ever saw me give one lesson! Nor have they have ever tracked one player I coached.  I once had a 19 handicap come to me and two seasons later he won the club championship-championship flight! By that I mean with that student I had great success. But no one knew of that progress who gave me an award.

On the award form, I was asked about the best, or most well-known students I had taught. In the golf journals, a “this-is-the-teacher-who-can-help-you” message is the epitome of misdirection. Writing articles, appearing on TV, giving YouTube video tips, etc. is not the measure of a teacher. On the list of recognized names, I’m sure there are great teachers, but wouldn’t you like to see them teach as opposed to hearing them speak? I’m assuming the “ridiculous” ones Brandel refers to are those teaching a philosophy or theory of movement and trying to get everyone to do just that.

When it comes to his criticism of TrackMan, I disagree. TrackMan does much more than help “dial in yardage.” Video cannot measure impact, true path, face-to-path relationship, centeredness of contact, club speed, ball speed, plane etc. Comparing video with radar is unfair because the two systems serve different functions. And if real help is better ball flight, which of course only results from better impact, then we need both a video of the overall motion and a measure of impact.

Now the specific example he cites of Jordan Spieth’s struggles being something that can be corrected in “two seconds” is hyperbolic at least! Nothing can be corrected that quickly simply because the player has likely fallen into that swing flaw over time, and it will take time to correct it. My take on Jordan’s struggles is a bit different, but he is a GREAT player who will find his way back.

Brandel accuses Cameron McCormick (his teacher) of telling him to change his swing.  Do we know that to be true, or did Jordan just fall into a habit and Cameron is not seeing the change? I agree there is a problem; his stats prove that, but before we pick a culprit, let’s get the whole story. Again back to the sensationalism which sells! (Briefly, I believe Jordan’s grip is and has always been a problem but his putter and confidence overcame it. An active body and “quiet” hands is the motion one might expect of a player with a strong grip-for obvious reason…but again just my two teacher cents)

Anyway, “bitch-slapped” got him in hot water for other reasons obviously, and he did apologize over his choice of words, and to be clear he did not condemn the PGA as a whole. But because I have disagreements with his reasoning here does not mean Brandel is not a bright articulate golf professional, I just hope he looks before he leaps the next time, and realizes none of us are always right.

Some of my regular readers will recall I “laid down my pen” a few years ago, but it occurred to me, I would be doing many teachers a disservice if I did not offer these thoughts on this particular topic!









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Opinion & Analysis

A trip down Magnolia Memory Lane: Patron fashion at the 1991 Masters



Like a lot of golfers out there, I’ve been getting my fix thanks to the final round Masters broadcasts on YouTube via the Masters channel. Considering these broadcasts go back as far as 1968, there is a lot we could discuss—we could break down shots, equipment, how the course has changed, but instead I thought we could have a little fun taking a different direction—fashion.

However, I’m not talking players fashion, that’s fairly straight forward. Instead, I wanted to follow the action behind the action and see what we could find along the way – here are the 1991 Highlights.

I love the “Die Hard” series as much as anyone else but one fan took it to a new level of fandom by wearing a Die Hard 2 – Die Harder T-shirt to Sunday at the Masters. This patron was spotted during Ian Woosnam fourth shot into 13. Honorable mention goes to Woosie’s gold chain.

There is a lot going on here as Ben Crenshaw lines up his put on 17. First, we have the yellow-shirted man just left of center with perfectly paired Masters green pants to go along with his hat (he also bears a striking resemblance to Ping founder Karsten Solheim). Secondly, we have what I would imagine is his friend in the solid red pants—both these outfits are 10 out of 10. Last but not least, we have the man seen just to the right of Ben with sunglasses so big and tinted, I would expect to be receiving a ticket from him on the I20 on my way out of town.

If you don’t know the name Jack Hamm, consider yourself lucky you missed a lot of early 2000s late-night golf infomercials. OK so maybe it’s not the guy known for selling “The Hammer” driver but if you look under the peak of the cabin behind Woosie as he tees off on ten you can be forgiven for taking a double-take… This guy might show up later too. Honorable mention to the pastel-pink-shorted man with the binoculars and Hogan cap in the right of the frame.

Big proportions were still very much in style as the 80s transitioned into the early 90s. We get a peek into some serious style aficionados wardrobes behind the 15th green with a wide striped, stiff collared lilac polo, along with a full-length bright blue sweater and a head of hair that has no intention of being covered by a Masters hat.

Considering the modern tales of patrons (and Rickie Folwer) being requested to turn backward hats forward while on the grounds of Augusta National, it was a pretty big shock to see Gerry Pate’s caddy with his hat being worn in such an ungentlemanly manner during the final round.

Before going any further, I would like us all to take a moment to reflect on how far graphics during the Masters coverage has come in the last 30 years. In 2019 we had the ability to see every shot from every player on every hole…in 1991 we had this!

At first glance, early in the broadcast, these yellow hardhats threw me for a loop. I honestly thought that a spectator had chosen to wear one to take in the action. When Ian Woosnam smashed his driver left on 18 over the bunkers it became very apparent that anyone wearing a hard hat was not there for fun, they were part of the staff. If you look closely you can see hole numbers on the side of the helmets to easily identify what holes they were assigned to. Although they have less to do with fashion, I must admit I’m curious where these helmets are now, and what one might be worth as a piece of memorabilia.

Speaking of the 18th hole, full credit to the man in the yellow hat (golf clap to anyone that got the Curious George reference) who perfectly matched the Pantone of his hat to his shirt and also looked directly into the TV camera.

It could be said the following photo exemplifies early ’90s fashion. We have pleated Bermuda shorts, horizontal stripes all over the place and some pretty amazing hairstyles. Honorable mention to the young guys in the right of the frame that look like every ’80s movie antagonist “rich preppy boy.”

What else can I say except, khaki and oversized long sleeve polos certainly had their day in 1991? We have a bit of everything here as Tom Watson lines up his persimmon 3-wood on the 18th. The guy next to Ian Woosnam’s sleeves hit his mid-forearm, there are too many pleats to count, and somehow our Jack Hamm look-alike managed to find another tee box front row seat.

You can check out the full final-round broadcast of the 1991 Masters below.


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The 19th Hole Episode 119: Gary Player joins the 19th Hole!



Hall of Famer Gary Player gives an exclusive one-on-one interview with Host Michael Williams about his life in golf, his thoughts on the current game and his tips for thriving even in difficult times.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 


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