Watching Hal Sutton and Peter Jacobsen stroll down TwinEagles' fairways together at the ACE Group Classic on Friday was not only convenient for their doctor, but it was also very rewarding.
"It was a great pairing for me. I was real happy to see them both playing so well and hitting the ball so good," said Dr. Mort Bertram, a Naples orthopedic surgeon who has performed surgeries on both Champion Tour players.
When Andy Bean withdrew from the group and the tournament on the 12th hole, Bertram's patients finished the final six holes as a twosome. Both players opened with 1-under-par 71s.
"Watching these guys play after they've had their surgeries is wonderful. It's very rewarding to see them get out there and play and not have pain," said Bertram, who is the founder of the Bertram Total Joint Center in Naples, and is a golfer himself.
After encountering problems with an initial hip procedure in Colorado, Sutton heeded Jacobsen's recommendation to come to Naples and see Bertram. The 1983 PGA Championship winner said Bertram aced the hip replacement surgery, which was done four months ago.
"It went fantastic," Sutton said. "Mort is a great surgeon and he's a great man, too. He took great care of me. I was here for five days. Under those circumstances, it couldn't have been a better five days. Naples Community did a great job. That's a great hospital. I just enjoyed my stay, under the circumstances."
These days Sutton, who has battled injuries throughout his career, is enjoying a healthier swing thanks to the operation.
"It has made it better because I didn't have a left side before," he said. "It was my left hip. I couldn't hit through my left side before. Now I can."
Sutton, who made his Champions Tour debut in 2008 after he won 14 times on the PGA Tour, made a rapid recovery.
"He couldn't have been a better patient," Bertram said. "He just did phenomenally well after surgery. He's so strong and so tough that he didn't even hardly take any pain medication after surgery. He was off the cane in a few days.
"The reason Hal is a great story to me is because he was having so much pain and problems and still playing pretty well (before the hip replacement), but he is so excited now that he's not having any pain. He just really can't wait to get out there and play some more."
Jacobsen's introduction to Bertram came in 2006 after the Bonita Springs resident was referred to the doctor by his good friend, former tour player Mark Lye, who lives in Naples.
"I couldn't have picked a better guy," said Jacobsen, who had also had a hip replacement. "Whenever I'm down here and talking to people about their hips and their knees, he's the only one I even mention because he's the best."
Bertram, who also operated on 1978 PGA Championship winner and Golf Channel on-course analyst John Mahaffey, had one other golfer to watch on Friday. His former University of Kentucky golf teammate Russ Cochran shot a 72. Bertram actually credits Cochran with directing him toward another profession when they were in college.
"Russ is the reason I'm a doctor because I couldn't beat him in college. I figured I'd better do something else," Bertram said. "Seriously, Russ is the reason that I decided that I'd better do something besides play golf for a living. He was so much better than I was it wasn't funny."