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Unique house call for Lakewood Ranch/Bradenton orthopedist at PGA Tour event

Dr. Stephen Otte will serve as the on-call doctor at the World Golf Championships at The Concession in the Lakewood-Ranch/Bradenton area.

Coastal Orthopedic's Dr. R. Stephen Otte said it is a huge honor to be the on-site physician at the World Golf Championships at The Concession.
Coastal Orthopedic's Dr. R. Stephen Otte said it is a huge honor to be the on-site physician at the World Golf Championships at The Concession.
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With the world's best golfers warming up behind him Feb. 22 at The Concession Golf Club, Dr. Stephen Otte of Coastal Orthopedics had his first tough assignment of the week.

Otte, who is serving as the on-site physician of the World Golf Championships at The Concession, was asked if he would rather have his current assignment, or a hole-in-one.

"I've been within 6 inches (of a hole-in-one) about three times and have never made it," said Otte, a fine golfer in his own right who carries a 4 handicap. "My grandfather had two, and my mom, who is a 16 to 18 handicap, has had one.

"A hole-in-one would be pretty special, but it would be hard to pass this up. This is a pretty cool honor."

Brian Weimann, the Concession Golf Club's general manager, suggested the PGA Tour take a look at Otte, a Concession member, when an on-site doctor was being sought after the event switched from Mexico City to the Lakewood Ranch area because of the pandemic.

Besides establishing his reputation at Coastal, Otte worked with professional athletes during a fellowship at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He worked with the White Sox, Bulls and Fire in Chicago. 

Otte jumped at the opportunity when the PGA Tour offered him the position for the week, Feb. 22-28.

"This is a huge honor for Coastal Orthopedics," he said. "We've been in the Bradenton, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch communities for almost 50 years. Coastal has gone from three to four doctors to almost 20. We cover local high schools. We serve the community."

While his workload will be uncertain, Otte understands the world's best golfers aren't likely to need a lot of attention from him, although he will be ready if asked.

"My job is to be available for the players, caddies, the (PGA Tour) staff," he said. "I am here for backup if they need orthopedic intervention. Otherwise, I will just be acting as support."

When the PGA Tour asked him to work the event, he was reminded the pros have a bevy of trains and staff to assist them. He will be asked to help if an issue "escalates."

He said an example would be if one of the pros was hitting out of the trees and the club head gets stuck into a root, perhaps causing a wrist injury. He also said golfers sometimes sprain ankles coming out of bunkers.

"Golf being non-contact, acute injuries are limited," he said. "Golf for the most part, as you see with our population in Florida, is about weekend warriors whose injuries tend to be chronic overuse and tendinitis."

That won't be the case at the World Golf Championships and that's OK with Otte, who otherwise will be able to enjoy watching the event and perhaps getting to interact with a pro or two. He said he will give the pros their space, unless asked for help or advice. 

Otte never has attended a PGA Tour event, so he is excited to see the talent up close. Interestingly, he had tickets for the 2020 Masters, which was postponed due to the pandemic.

He also wants to see how the pros fare on a course he plays regularly.

He said Concession owner Bruce Cassidy and Weimann have done an unbelievable job getting the course ready to host a major event.

"I play from the back tips every once in a while," Otte said. "They are playing back, back ... 7,700 yards. It's going to be sunny, but the real factor will be if it's windy. If it's a south wind, it's easier to manage, if it is any other wind, the course can show its teeth. But it will be fun to see the pros blast it around here."

His pick to win is not a surprise, world No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson. He said Johnson's ability to hit it long and have control could be tough to beat.

Otte said the NBC and Golf Channel audience will find the course interesting with its many trees and beautiful landscape. On Sunday, he said it is likely he will try to "hunker down at No. 18" a tough par 4 with a lake running along the fairway up to the green, with the clubhouse in the background.

While he isn't sure if he will have much to do, he will be ready if asked.

"This is kind of what we train for," he said. "This is why I went into this (field), to treat people at the highest level."


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