Temple Beth Tikvah member Dr. David Levinson does a lot more than crack your back. As one of the official on-site chiropractors of the Professional Golf Association (PGA), he has helped keep the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods on the course and playing their best.
Fittingly, Levinson grew up a golf fan. Still, he didn’t necessarily expect that he’d emerge from his higher education at Temple and Life universities to shortly after begin working with pros at the top of their game.
Of course, besides working with star athletes, the doctor also helps promote the general health and relieve the pain of his everyday patients at his practice in Johns Creek. The Atlanta Jewish Times spoke with Levinson about his reasons for getting into medicine, his passion for sports and what he offers to the people who walk through his office doors.
AJT: How did you get involved with the PGA?
DL: Back in 1985, I was working on a local golf pro, and he had a friend who was a touring pro, Jodie Mudd. Jodie asked me to take a look at him; I did, and I was able to help him.
From there, he [Mudd] actually invited me to one of the PGA events, the FedEx Tournament in Memphis, Tenn. I went with him, and by the end of the week, I had worked not only on him but actually about 50 golfers. Just by being in the locker room with him and my portable table, I became connected with many others on the tour; that was my first exposure, and that was how my reputation started, and it’s built from there.
Not long after that, I was seeing a lot of different professional golfers, and I was being invited out by more of them to travel to different events. Eventually, almost all the players started wanting chiropractic, so the PGA opted to provide chiropractors on-site at every tournament, and a team was selected.
Originally, it was a team of six chiropractors [that the PGA brought in], and I was one of the six. What we did was we split up all of the PGA tour events, and we started working with physical therapists and athletic trainers in the PGA trailers that travel to each tournament. Basically, we became the personal doctors for the tour players when they played.
These days, I’ll work somewhere between six and eight weeks a year out on tour, going to different cities, and my colleagues do the same. No question, the whole experience has been very gratifying; it’s been fun to travel to different parts of the country, different parts of the world and also to develop relationships and friendships with these professional golfers.
Seeing it [professional golf] from behind the scenes is also very enjoyable and something I relish.
AJT: When it comes to working with the big names, have you every dealt with being star-struck?
DL: To be honest, yes, at first. I remember the first time I met Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, and it goes pretty much down the line with people that I looked up to when I was growing up. Gary Player, Lee Travino, those guys – I think the first time I met them, I was nervous and, as you said, star-struck.
That carried on for a while, but then it changed when I got older; the players got younger all the sudden [laughs]. Also, being around it for so many years, there’s definitely familiarity. Sure, working with Tiger, that brings out a different level of adrenaline; but the more you do something, the more comfortable it becomes.
AJT: Tell me more about your “day job” – that is, running your practice in Johns Creek.
DL: I’d sum it up by saying that there’s a percentage of people that come in to see me because they’re in pain. They have lower back pain, sciatica, neck pain, headaches, shoulder injury, a wrist problem – that’s what I call crisis management, and I see that every day.
Then, another part of what I do is helping to inspire. I consider myself something of a personal health coach in guiding people on the journey to being healthy. The people to who I help in this way are already health-oriented people: They’re into eating healthy; they’ll go to Whole Foods instead of Wal-Mart; you’ll find them exercising regularly every week. They try to benefit from that positive addiction of eating right and exercising, so with them, a lot of what I share is healthy living principles.
Finally, a certain component of my practice is performance-oriented aspect. It could be anything from an adolescent to an older person; these are people trying to peak, performance-wise, in whatever sport they’re doing. I can help them with functional analysis and coaching in terms of exercises, as well as preventing illnesses and injuries.
BY JOHN McCURDY / THE ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES