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U.S. Open: Caddies get special treatment, too

Even the caddies of U.S. Open Golfers are getting top-drawer treatment during the week of the first-ever classic, international golf event in San Diego.

New York sports chiropractor Dr. Jeff Poplarski is in town this week to coordinate a large group of local volunteer chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists willing to donate their time to ensure golfers, and their helpers, get the best physical treatment possible to soothe their aches and pains.

“I’m the caddy chairman in charge of health care and hospitality for all the caddies for the 156 players,” said Poplarski, who’s done similar duty for U.S. Opens, mostly in New York State, since 2002.

Poplarski noted the U.S. Open is not only the big time for golfers, but for their caddies as well. “Caddies on the tour for the top 100 golfers are now making $200,000 a year,” he noted.

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Poplarski said he won’t be treating the topmost golfers on the tour like Tiger Woods, who has personal assistants who do the honor. But he will be directing the volunteer care of many in the rank-and-file who’ve yet to become household terms on the PGA Tour.

Twenty or 30 years ago, Poplarski pointed out caddies were largely poorly paid servants for their pro-athlete masters. But today, they’ve earned the right to be as respected – and as well cared for – as the pro tour golfers they assist. “Now they’re treated just like the players,” Poplarski added. “Now caddies are not just grunts and bag carriers, they’re psychologists and bodyguards for the golfers. They know the golf clubs inside and out. They help the players, who are always looking for that competitive advantage.”

Poplarski said many U.S. Open caddies made their way into town prior to the 2008 tournament to size up the Torrey Pines course. “They’ve been out walking up and down the fairways taking notes,” he said. “You never know when an extra stroke, here or there, can win a championship.”

Poplarski said he’ll be in charge of some 60 health care practitoners of all stripes – chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists – in San Diego who have been lined up to minister to caddies their players. He said he was surprised that 700 health-care providers in San Diego applied to participate in the caddy-driven treatment program at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla.

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It was a difficult task for Poplarski to sort through all the applications. He said he spent hundreds of hours on the phone from 3,000 miles away ensuring he had qualified applicants to serve caddies and some of their players.

La Jolla acupuncturist Amorah Kelly, L.A.c., M.S., owner of Wonderworks Healing Arts in the Crosby Center, said the La Jolla Town Council recommended her when they got got a call from Dr. Jeff Poplarski looking for U.S. Open volunteers. “He (Poplarski) called me in November,” Kelly said. ‘I said, ‘Oh, yes, I’m happy to help.’ I’ll be one of just two acupuncturists.”

As a healer, Kelly said she heeds the call for help, from wherever it comes. “Whenever I get asked, I show up,” she said. “I’m happy to provide this service and get more people and families educated and familiar with the benefits of accupuncture.”

Kelly will volunteer her services to work on caddies and golfers at the U.S. Open for five hours on both Friday and Sunday of the event. She can be reached at (858) 775-1515 or

www.amorahkelly.com

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The health-care practitioners volunteering their services for this U.S. Open are among a team of some 5,500 volunteers, all essential to pulling the event off.

Health-care professionals treating caddies and golfers will have their own caddy hospitality tent that will be open during the tournament from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be 10 chiropractors in that tent as well as a number of massage and acupuncture therapists with their trademark portable treatment tables. Poplarski expects there will be long lines of as many as 50 people at times waiting to receive a wide variety of treatments.

“What we’ve done with local health-care providers is ask them to work two shifts, one shift in the volunteer tent, and one shift in the caddy hospitality tent,” said Poplarski, who is one of 22 chairman representing different departments in the U.S. Open tournament.

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