Aug. 13–The hottest PGA major championship on record forced more than 200 people to seek medical attention during the four-day event.
The busiest day for medical crews was Sunday, when 70 people — 64 with heat-related illnesses — required help from EMSA paramedics and 23 more found first aid stations at Southern Hills Country Club by themselves.
Ambulances took eight people from the golf course to hospitals.
“It seemed like a more difficult day to most people. People tried to stay out longer, so it made it much more challenging for everybody,” said Dr. Frank Mitchell, a co-chairman of spectator medical services.
Chris White of Tulsa was one of the spectators who got to one of the first aid stations on his own.
He had arrived at Southern Hills about 8:45 a.m., and the long day’s pounding heat left him with a headache during the hottest part of the day, he said.
“They got me some ice and gave me Gatorade,” he said. “The heat is nuts.”
White was one of the heat victims who required only time to cool down.
Others at the first aid station were wrapped in ice packs, and several required I.V.’s.
The intravenous fluids and medical personnel were essential to the crowd’s making it through the week at Southern Hills, Mitchell said.
“We probably would have sent a lot more people to the hospitals if we didn’t have those capabilities,” he said. “It was a very, very busy day for a lot of people.”
The heat produced a tie for the highest average temperature of 101 degrees at a PGA major, which was set at none other than Southern Hills at the 1970 PGA Championship.
Sunday brought the worst of the heat, as the temperature reached a high of 102 degrees and the average wind speed hit a four-day low of 3.7 mph, the National Weather Service reported.
To beat the heat, spectators were finding spots in the sometimes scarce shade to sit and wait for their favorite golfers to pass.
Dave Modlin and Gary Losey, both 71, were lying down in the shade away from the 18th fairway to take a break from golf during the early afternoon.
“We’ve got a mountain in front of us just to get back to the vehicle,” Modlin said.
The two “alleged golfers” — as they described themselves — were career Marines but are now retired, Losey said.
They said their time run ning in gear for hours when they were Marines made Sunday’s heat bearable for them, but other people were having problems with it.
“The heat is having a bit of an effect, being that it is making people a bit crabby,” Losey said.
The two golf buddies talked about their youthful days in the Marines, but the sun still took its toll.
“The old get-up-and-go doesn’t get up and go like it used to,” Losey said.