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Editor’s note: A version of this story first ran in the Vail Daily.
Scott McCarron has discovered a fountain of youth that has him rocketing up the record book of the PGA Tour Champions (formerly the Senior PGA Tour) – tying the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer with 10 career wins on the tour for golfers over 50.
The secret to success for the only Gen X golfer on the senior circuit with double-digit wins, including a senior major in 2017? Cannabidiol, or CBD, and specifically the products of Colorado-based Functional Remedies.
“There’s no question,” McCarron said when asked if hemp oil has sparked his senior surge. “There’s kind of a of correlation for me starting the CBD a year and a half ago and just the way I feel now. I don’t feel as run down and as sore when I’m playing.”
A former regular PGA Tour pro, McCarron, 53, won three times on that circuit and recorded top-10 finishes in three of the four majors, including the Masters. He once ranked as high as 20th in the world. But injuries cost him playing time, and McCarron tried a wide variety of anti-inflammatories to recover and various sleep aids to combat sore, restless nights.
Nothing really seemed to work. Now he credits hemp-oil products – in the form of an eyedropper on his tongue or 20-milligam capsule before bed and a topical roll-on for a sore wrist or elbow – with transforming his game late in life.
“I feel like I can play longer, I can practice longer, play week in and week out and not have that soreness that you might have to take a week off because your body needs recovery,” McCarron said. “Because [the CBD is] helping my sleep, it’s helping my body recover faster and better every night so that I feel good and then I can go ahead and play and perform at a high level.”
Seemingly everyone is getting in on McCarron’s secret on the PGA Tour Champions.
“I think we’ve got nearly 50 guys on the Champions Tour using CBD oil and using Functional Remedies,” McCarron said. “And you’re starting to see a lot of guys on the regular tour. I just heard that Phil Mickelson is chewing a CBD gum all the time while he’s playing for his aches and pains. He’s got that rheumatoid arthritis and obviously [CBD is] helping him.”
Bubba Watson recently announced he uses CBD products, which have been removed from the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). CBD oil has very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“Interesting thing about PGA, is that PGA Tour Champions doesn’t drug test, so most players don’t need to worry about it,” said Leland Radovanovic of Powerplant Global Strategies, a national consulting firm focused on the legal cannabis industry. “The PGA Tour does, but recently raised their nanogram limit for THC to 150 nanogram. I believe it was around 15 nanograms before. They follow WADA’s rules.”
McCarron says he’s heard more players on the regular tour are willing to roll the dice – not just on CBD but also on THC.
“THC is banned, but the levels are so high you would literally have to smoke pot going into drug testing to have a positive test,” McCarron said. “[The PGA] obviously has drug testing as stringent as the Olympics, so guys were hesitant at first [on CBD oil], but they’ve got 10 or 12 guys that are taking it. The tour just wants to make sure that whatever is in it will not give any positive drug tests. So as of right now, everything seems to be going fantastic with that.”
Leland points out that Superior, Colorado-based Functional Remedies for the first time sponsored the Rapiscan Systems Classic, a PGA TOUR Champions event in southern Mississippi in late March.
Functional Remedies Chief Science Office Tim Gordon, who grew up in rural Ohio and moved to Colorado in 1996, has been studying and cultivating hemp for more than 30 years. He says he became more than just passionate about cannabis – making it his entire career focus – when he witnessed its transformative healing powers with a friend suffering the effects of chemotherapy.
Since then, Gordon has seen how regular consumption of CBD oil can help everyone from weekend warriors to professional golfers to ultramarathoners.
“I want to [change] mindsets here to understand cannabis just needs to be used almost like a vitamin – kind of preventative medicine in a way,” Gordon said. “Not just at the point of injury or treatment, but leading up to your everyday activity … supplying your body the cannabinoids that you need to be able to recover faster.”
Beyond golf, Gordon says CDB products are gaining acceptance across the spectrum of sports.
“Scott’s one of nearly 50 folks on the [senior] pro tour who are enjoying the benefits of Functional Remedies products,” Gordon said. “Besides all of those, we’re reaching folks in various pro sports — anything from cycling to pro weightlifting. Everyone’s seeing the benefits, and it’s driving the demand for education and the demand for change.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis late last month signed a suite of new Colorado cannabis laws, including two bills (SB220 and SB240) aimed at aligning the state with the 2018 Federal Farm Bill and allowing for better state regulation of Colorado’s booming hemp industry.