Pro Golfers With Hip Replacements

6 PGA Pros Who Had Their Hips Replaced (and Returned to Winning Golf!) —

Wait a minute, you can actually still play PGA TOUR LEVEL GOLF with a new hip?  Apparently so, seeing the list of pro golfers with hip replacements isn’t short and they all returned to levels of success.  

Now don’t expect your game to suddenly approach these pros but its nice to know that playing recreational golf is very possible after hip replacement.  

pro golfers with hip replacements

Below are 6 well known professional PGA Golfers who have had their hips replaced.

Jack Nicklaus –  The Golden Bear himself Jack Nicklaus dealt with left hip arthritis for years and got his hip replaced in 1999.  Nicklaus was 59 years old when he got his his left hip replacement done by Dr. Benjamin E. Bierbaum at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.

Nicklaus received a Stryker ceramic-on-ceramic hip as part of a clinical trial.  Stryker’s ceramic-on-ceramic total hip was the first to receive FDA approval for sales in the United States in February 2003.  Ceramic on ceramic means no metal involved in the new hip joint as metal in the body can be an issue for many people.

Nicklaus has been a Stryker spokesman appearing on numerous national television commercials and campaigns.  Quality of life enhancement has been the main message Niklaus conveys in his comercials.

Jack is the all time leader PGA tour history with 18 Major Tournaments victories.  His surgery was performed in January and he was able to return to competitive golf on the Senior PGA tour 298 days later at the Bell Atlantic Classic in Avondale, PA outside of Philadelphia.

Davis Love III – At 54 years of age Davis Love got his left hip replaced in November of 2018. The procedure was performed Dr. Benton A. Emblom of Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama.  Love is the winner of 21 PGA tour events in his career including numerous Ryder Cup triumphs.  

Love returned to competitive golf 8 months after his surgery and continues to compete on the Senior PGA tour at a high level.  

Boo Weekley –  Who can ever forget Boo Weekly’s run during the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla where he famously ‘rode the horse’ with his driver down the 18th fairway?  He defeated Oliver Wilson 4&2 during the final singles day to help the US defeat Europe that year.

Weekly had his left hip replaced in January of 2021 by Dr. Matthew Mai of the Institute for Orthopedics in Gulf Breeze, Fla.  The winner of 3 tour events has not yet returned to competitive golf on the PGA tour.  

Boo Weekley has played in 4 Korn Ferry Tour events in 2022 including missed cuts in the BMW Charity Pro Am, Rex Hospital Open and RSM Classic and a 56th place finish in the Live and Work in Maine event.  

Tom Watson – One of the game’s best ever players, Watson owns 39 career PGA tour victories including 8 Majors.  Watson has also won 18 events on the Senior PGA tour.

In October 2009, 59 year old Watson underwent an Anterior Hip Replacement. The surgery was performed by Dr. Joel Matta at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. He was able to return for the Senior Skins game in January 2010 to play with Jack Nicklaus, only 3 months after surgery.

Matta’s anterior approach allowed Watson a much quicker recovery and ability to return to athletic activities much sooner than the standard posterior approach.  

golf ball in sand trap

Watson noted that he did have some issues regaining his strength and did have some pain during the 2010 Masters in the same hip.  Overall his play continued to improve, even contending in the 2009 British Open finishing second to Stewart Cink after a 4 hole playoff! 

Peter Jacobsen – In September 2006, long time PGA tour professional and current senior tour player Peter Jacobsen had his left hip replaced. The surgery was performed by Dr. Mort Bertram in Naples, FL.    The 52 year old Jacobsen stated that he attempted numerous previous treatments and procedures but ultimately chose to have it replaced completely.

Even with his hip pain, Jacobsen was able to put together 6 Top 10 finishes on the Senior PGA tour  in 2006.  He was able to return to golf 5 months after surgery. Jacobsen continued with other spine and knee injuries which also limited his competitive golfing abilities.

Jacobsen notes that he had a hip replacement, knee replacement, multiple back surgeries and rotator cuff repair all within a 3 year span.  Too often one injury can lead to a cascade of other ailments. If not treated early enough numerous issues can hobble golfers.

Hal Sutton –  At age 54, the 1983 PGA Championship winner got his left hip replaced back in October 2012 by Dr. Mort Bertram.  Sutton’s good friend Peter Jacobsen (mentioned above) provided the referral and good word after his own left hip replacement by Bertram.  

Fast forward one year and in October 2013 Sutton had his right hip replaced by Dr. Bertram.  With the fast healing and quick return to play following his left hip, the bone on bone right hip replacement naturally followed.

The Shreveport, Louisiana native is a 14 time winner on the PGA tour and now resides on the Champions Tour.  Sutton noted that he took a 5 year break from competitive golf between the PGA tour and Champions Tour. This break made it difficult for his hips to regain form after.

Sutton is now a spokesman for the Stryker Corporation along side Jack Nicklaus and others.  Both of Suttons hips are Stryker Mobile Bearing Hip devices, models designed to provide maximum mobility and return to sporting activities.

Golf After Hip Replacement

6 Well Know PGA Players With Hip Replacements

  1. Jack Nicklaus – 59 years old when hip replaced
  2. Davis Love III – 54 years old when hip replaced
  3. Boo Weekly – 47 years old when hip replaced
  4. Tom Watson – 59 years old when hip replaced
  5. Peter Jacobsen – 52 years old when hip replaced
  6. Hal Sutton – 54 years old when hip replaced

Quick Note: All 6 of these golfers happen to be right handed.  In all 6, their left hips were replaced with Hal Sutton also having his right hip replaced a year later.

All of these golfers got their hips replaced under the age of 60, well below the average age of 65 for hip replacement.  With an athletic workplace and an activity placing repeated strain on the hips, this age difference shouldn’t be a surprise.

This is mentioned to note that the right handed golf swing places extra torque and stress on the left leg and hip compared to the right hip.  On the normal downswing and follow through, all of a golfer’s body weight and momentum is twisted and placed on the front left leg.

For the recreational right handed golfer with left hip arthritis, it might be time to adjust your left hip position to help alleviate further stress to that leg.  For example, turn your left foot slightly outward at address to allow your momentum to turn through easier.

The same can be said for left handed golfers with right hip arthritis issues.  Changing your setup and foot position can make a world of difference to lessen the pain on your hip.

About Jeffrey Roth MPT

Owner and operator of Roth Therapy Services in Pittsburgh, PA focusing on in home rehabilitation physical therapy services.


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