A Monroeville chiropractor will be part of a volunteer team of professionals ready to treat players and caddies at the 42nd US Senior Open.
Brent Shealer, 44, of Gibsonia plans to close his Northern Pike practice for about a week when he heads to Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem for the championship tournament scheduled for June 23-26.
He will be alongside 28 other members of a recovery team including physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers and people trained on specialty healing equipment. Many of the professionals are from Pennsylvania.
Shealer said he’s excited for the opportunity to work on athletes again.
“I grew up playing golf and I watch golf on TV,” he said. “I’m proud that I don’t get caught by the stars on some of these guys. I am very interested in taking care of athletes. Dealing with such things interests me a lot.”
Shealer has been a chiropractor for a little over 20 years. He had a practice at the Penn Center in Wilkins for about 18 years before moving to the place where the McGinnis Sisters Special Food Stores used to be, off Route 48.
He holds a national athletic certification from the American Board of Chiropractic Sports Physicians.
Shealer worked with bobsleigh and luge athletes at Lake Placid Olympic Center in 2015. He has also worked in similar sports medicine roles in the Pittsburgh area, volunteering to help at the US Open in Pebble Beach in 2019.
“It’s quite remarkable to be behind the scenes at a major event like this,” Shealer said.
The group he was involved in at the time was called the Wellness Team. Members would consult with clients and ensure they are receiving the specific treatment they need.
Each person worked about a four or five hour shift and then had a chance to see the tournament and mingle.
Shealer said he worked on some athletes but couldn’t name names, citing privacy rules.
“The caddies get pretty exhausted lugging around these bags and they need it just as much as the players do,” he said. “It’s different to take care of these pro golfers. But it’s not much different than taking care of the weekend warrior playing here at Meadowink in Murrysville. The golf swing is the golf swing.
“They’re probably in a bit better shape than Bob Smith, who lives up the road and only plays at Meadowink once a week, but the golf swing comes with a lot of stress and problems. That’s about it.”
Shealer said he had hoped to return for the past few years, but those plans have been dashed because of the pandemic.
He grew up in central Pennsylvania and graduated from the Philipsburg-Osceola School District in 1996. He was part of the golf team in high school and still plays occasionally.
Shealer said he became interested in becoming a chiropractor after receiving treatment for a sports injury when he was about 10 years old.
“I hurt myself playing basketball,” he said. “My mom took me to a chiropractor and it worked. I just kept going throughout school and always went regularly and consistently. I played golf and baseball and stuff like that in high school. I was just starting to get interested. I’ve seen how much it has helped me and my family, and I’ve seen how much it has helped people in the waiting room every time.”
Shealer attended Penn State before attending Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg County, SC
He became a chiropractor in 2001. He said the most common ailments he treats involve the mid to upper neck and headaches, mostly caused by sitting for too long.
This year marks the eighth Senior Open in Bethlehem. Most recently in 2000.
Nearly 2,000 volunteers are expected to help throughout the event.
A field of 156 players is reduced to the low 60 players and a tie after two rounds. A champion is usually crowned after four rounds. Participants must be at least 50 years old to play.
“I think the community is excited about this,” said Hank Thompson, senior director of the tournament. “I think the number of eligible players depends on their age, whether it’s Ernie Els or Jim Furyk.
“I think a lot of people have a recognition factor that they can rely on. I think it’s something very positive and we’re looking forward to seeing some good viewers throughout the week.”
The recovery team is led by Dr. Jeff Poplarski of Amityville, NY.
“That gives them a chance, especially caddies who often don’t have access to that kind of support,” Thompson said. “It allows them to come in and have the option to get treatment for any ailments or what you have after a long day on the golf course or getting ready to play with their players. It’s an opportunity for them to take care of themselves and be seen by other practices or other focuses.”
For more information on the US Senior Open, visit pgatour.com. The tournament will be broadcast on The Golf Channel as well as other channels. See local directories for details.
Michael DiVittorio is a contributor to the Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter.