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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

A road trip to St. Andrews



In 2017, my son Brian and his wife Lauren, proposed a family trip to Scotland. Both of them have traveled a surprising amount for a couple barely 30 years old, but for us it would be a huge trip. We couldn’t get it scheduled for 2018 but everything lined up for October, 2019, a trip that might even include playing the Old Course in St. Andrews, if we got lucky. The amazing Lauren made all the arrangements, beginning with multiple email exchanges with the staff at the Old Course, who were extremely gracious and encouraging in their communications.

Unlike most other courses, in order to play the Old Course, you have three options: One is to book a very expensive trip through a travel broker who will guarantee a tee time. This is the only way to make your arrangements in advance, but you’re paying thousands for the package, which would include at least three other days of golf. Sounds great but above our budget. Secondly, you can take a real gamble and just show up at the starter’s window the day you are hoping to play, and get in line as early as 3 a.m., put your name on the list and then wait, maybe all day, maybe hopelessly. It’s no way to budget an entire day on your vacation. The third way is to use what is called the “ballot system,” submitting your request for a tee time via email to, 48 hours ahead and hopefully getting a spot.

Now, it’s not as grim a prospect as it may sound for planning to play golf in St. Andrews. The above only applies to getting onto the Old Course. We were able to make a tee time for the Jubilee Course, one of six other courses (Jubilee, Castle, New Course, Eden, Strathtyrum, and Balgove), all part of the St. Andrews Links complex, “The Home of Golf” as their brochure proclaims. Since we were scheduling our trip for the tail-end of the golf season, the gentleman from St. Andrews wrote that he was cautiously optimistic we would be successful using the ballot system.

This wasn’t just a golfing vacation, the five us had an outstanding time touring the west coast of Scotland, including the Oban Whisky distillery, the Harry Potter train in Glencoe, Ben Nevis—the highest peak in the UK, Fort William, and the spectacular Highlands, the town of St. Andrews, and finally the marvelous city of Edinburgh. We ended up spending one night in St. Andrews, at The Saint, a lovely four-room hotel, a 10-minute walk from the Old Course. That evening, walking down cobblestone streets, with the R&A clubhouse coming into view, was like walking in a dream.

Our day started out by driving directly to the new Links Clubhouse, which has wonderful views of the courses from the restaurant. We had lunch, and I must admit to being a bit nervous over my chicken bacon mayo sandwich. We’d parked our bags in the locker room down below, it’s just what you’d expect in terms of world-class accommodations and feel. I could just imagine the pros suiting up there as they prepare to play in The Open.

Our day of golf at the Jubilee Course was spectacular, although it got off to a rainy start, but the weather cleared by the fourth hole. Mary, Jill, and Lauren formed our gallery as we teed off, then they went for a walk around the lovely town. I parred the first hole and told Brian that made my entire trip to Scotland. I was on fire, shooting 42 on the front nine but hitting only three fairways and two greens in regulation. Brian shot 45. We’d decided on match play, and I was up by three on the 11th hole. Brian then said the fateful words, “You haven’t hit into a pot bunker all day!” Which I promptly did. My game immediately tanked while he proceeded to make a total of nine pars, shooting 42 on the back, and won the match 2 & 1. Our gallery re-appeared on the 17th hole, the sun was shining, and we were in golf heaven! We ended the day with a pint at the famous Dunvegan Pub by the R&A clubhouse.

Earlier in the day, Brian had received an email from St. Andrews, unfortunately stating that we had not been selected for the ballot to play on the Old Course the next day. He resubmitted our request for the following day with fingers crossed. We headed to our next stop, Edinburgh, looking forward to exploring this ancient yet cosmopolitan city. During our walking tour, Brian received the email notification that we’d scored an 11 a.m. tee time on the Old Course for Friday. He and I would be making a road trip back north while the ladies spent the day in Edinburgh.

It was about an hour ride back to St. Andrews but traffic was quite manageable and we arrived at 9:30, plenty of time for breakfast at the Links Clubhouse. I felt that anticipatory excitement I always have right before marshaling at a big event, like a U.S. Open, where the atmosphere of the place is nearly overwhelming. Not really nervousness, but we were about to play the Old Course! Isn’t that every golfer’s dream? To say Brian was wound up tight would be an understatement, he could barely choke down half a scone. The walk over toward the starters shack, where we would meet our caddies, with the R&A clubhouse right there at the first tee was unreal.

The clerk was so gracious, taking our 130 Scottish pounds green fee (about $160), and handing us a very nice valuables pouch complete with an amazingly detailed yardage book, tees, pencils, divot tool, and scorecard. We were then approached by our two caddies, who between them had nearly 30 years of caddying experience. I got John, whose personality was perfect for me, quiet, calm, not too chatty, yet personable. Brian’s guy, Steve was just right for him as well, right from central casting with a thick Scottish brogue. He instantly bonded with Brian to become his playing partner/coach, which was just what he needed to get over the first tee jitters.

The starter, Richard, approached us as we made our way over to the first tee, greeting us much like you see them do at the start of the Open Championship. He made our presence there seem extra special, despite the fact he’d probably done the same routine 10 thousand times. He even took our picture. We were then introduced to our two other playing partners, both former members of the course, so they didn’t need caddies to show them the way. These guys were hilarious, self-deprecating, with brogues so thick I could understand maybe one word in three, not the best golfers by any stretch, which was somehow quite reassuring and certainly less intimidating. Brian proved to be the best golfer in our foursome by far although he had a rough start, hitting his drive into the Swilcan Burn.

I was really calm on the tee, it helped that there were very few spectators as it was drizzling and maybe 50 degrees. John told me where to aim, (“at that gorse bush off in the distance”) and I was able to do exactly that. As we walked off the first tee Steve said “now you can all breathe again!” I found having a caddy to be such a wonderful added dimension to this whole experience—not just as a guide to point out where in the world I should be aiming on this alien golf layout, but also to set an expectation for me on each shot which I then tried my best to fulfill. The greens weren’t too scary as I felt used to the speeds having played Jubilee, but having John read the subtle breaks and provide aiming points was terrific.

I played bogey golf through the first 12 holes but the rain only intensified and despite John’s best effort to keep things dry, the final 6 holes were a mess. Brian was one up on our match at the turn, then went on to win decisively at 5 up, with a total for the day of 5 pars and a birdie, including par on 17, the famous Road Hole. As the day went on, we found ourselves saying over and over to each other, what a wonderful experience this was despite the conditions. Steve took the traditional picture of us on the Swilcan Bridge, on our way to finishing on 18, which Brian almost parred. He later said he had such a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, having conquered the Old Course.

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TG2: Brooks and Peter Kostis rip Patrick Reed



Brooks Koepka and Peter Kostis both talk about Patrick Reed and his cheating allegations. Brooks was on SiriusXM and Kostis on No Laying Up don’t hold back their feelings on cheating. Kostis also has some PGA Tour beef, saying that they don’t care about the television broadcast.

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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Opinion & Analysis

Watch for players lofting up at altitude at the WGC-Mexico Championship



This week, at the PGA Tour’s WGC-Mexico Championship, we are going to watch some of the best and longest players on the planet play what will effectively be one of the shortest courses on tour.

Now, 7,341 yards is by no means a cakewalk, and there are shorter courses from a pure yardage perspective played on tour—Harbour Town, as an example, only plays at 7,099 yards from the very back. The difference is Harbour Town is played at sea level while Club de Golf Chapultepec is at over 7,500 feet of elevation, and when you factor in the altitude difference between the two courses, they play very differently—more on the math in a moment.

The altitude will also factor in how some players will be setting up their equipment and we could see some adjustments. The most obvious is lofting up the driver or fairways woods to increase carry, which is something Tiger Woods specifically mentioned last year.

The biggest misconception when talking about playing golf at altitude is that the ball doesn’t spin the same in thinner air and players “loft up” to maintain spin. Let’s get into the physics to bust this “spinning less” myth and simplify the science behind playing at altitude,

The golf ball is an inanimate object, and it has no idea it’s at altitude; the air will not have an impact on how much the ball will actually spin. Yes, increasing loft should, by almost every imaginable measure, increase spin but the air it travels through will not change the spin rate.

However, playing at altitude has an effect, Let’s break down what happens

  • Thinner air exerts less drag force (resistance/friction) on the ball. The ball moves more easily through this less dense air and won’t decelerate as quickly as it flies. But note that the faster an object moves the more drag force will occur
  • Less resistance also means that it is harder to shape shots. So you when you see Shot Tracer, the pros are going to be hitting it even straighter (this makes Tiger’s fairway bunker shot last year even more unbelievable)
  • Less force = less lift, the ball will fly lower and on a flatter trajectory

Time for some math from Steve Aoyama, a Principal Scientist at Titleist Golf Ball R&D (full piece here: The Effect of Altitude on Golf Ball Performance)

“You can calculate the distance gain you will experience (compared to sea level) by multiplying the elevation (in feet) by .00116. For example, if you’re playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the increase is about 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally drive the ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno.”

Not every player will be making changes to their bag, and some will instead focus on the types of shots they are hitting instead. When speaking to Adam Scott earlier this week, I was able to ask if he planned on making any changes heading into Mexico the week after his win at the Genesis Invitational.

“It’s very rare for me to make club changes week-to-week beyond playing in the Open Championship and adding a longer iron. The one thing I focus on when playing at altitude is avoiding partial shots where I’m trying to reduce the spin because as spin goes down the ball doesn’t want to stay in the air. I’ve experienced partial shots with longer clubs that end up 25 yards short, and because of that I want to hit as many full shots as possible”

With Club de Golf Chapultepec sitting just over 7,800 feet above sea level, we’re looking at 9.048 or an increase of just over 9 percent. That makes this 7,341-yard course play 6,677 yards (+/- where the tees are placed).


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