After a severely overplayed A1 story and a ludicrous examination of average golfers suffering extreme heartburn, The New York Times finally gets around to doing what it does best: taking a story like Charlie Beljan's panic attack and talking to experts about the efficacy of anxiety treatments and PGA Tour drug use rules that ban such treatments (with medical exemptions).
Bill Pennington saves the day reports:
The permissibility of beta blockers in golf’s top level has come into focus anew this week. Charlie Beljan won a PGA Tour event Sunday, two days after being hospitalized with a panic attack. Beljan, who said that this week he was going to consult doctors near his home in Arizona, might be treated with medication to prevent future panic attacks.
For those of you following this epic saga, Beljan got a clean bill of health Tuesday from Jim Rome, Diane Sawyer and Inside Edition. There is no mention in the linked story of the Mayo Clinic that he was supposed to visit on Tuesday (reported here, here and here.)
Anyway, back to beta blockers and their ability to help...some:
“Some level of anxiety is good for performance,” said Richard Ginsburg, a sports psychologist at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “It keeps you on your game. A beta blocker can take away some edge, mellow you too much.”
Danforth, who twice played in the United States Women’s Open, agreed, though she added that beta blockers, purely from a golf perspective, had been likened to the stabilizing advantage some find using a long putter.
There are medical concerns for those who acquire beta blockers without a prescription, perhaps through the plethora of Web sites selling the drugs. Singh said there was a serious risk for people using beta blockers without a genuine, long-term medical need for them.
“They are a very powerful class of drugs that have enormous impact on essential bodily functions,” he said. “They are not without adverse effects.”
You can read the banned drug list here (PDF).