When the first U.S. Open was played in 1895 at Rhode Island’s Newport Country Club, some spectators and competitors, perhaps even winner Horace Rawlins, had at one time likely worn clothes made of hemp fibers. In the 1800s, hemp — made from stalks of the Cannabis plant — was commonly used to make a variety of products, including clothing, rope, and paper.
In 2019, Cannabis is making a return to the U.S. Open golf course in Pebble Beach, California. This time, in the form of Cannabidiol, or CBD.
Several PGA Tour players, including 2009 U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover, use and endorse CBD products, which are said to help with a variety of ailments, as well as alleviating anxiety, sleeplessness, and aiding with post-workout recovery. CBD is a non-psychoactive extract from the Cannabis plant. It’s one of several compounds in the plant and contains no THC, the intoxicating property of Cannabis that produces a “high” when ingested.
In a sport where players constantly seek ways to gain an advantage over opponents while competing weekly for more than $1 million, supplements like CBD have gained popularity. While only a handful of PGA Tour players have endorsement contracts with CBD companies, the number of actual users could be as many as two dozen, if not more, according to Glover, who uses and endorsesCBD products.
“CBD has benefits that can impact the golfer before, during, and after the round,” said Jay Hartenbach, CEO of Medterra. “From a recovery standpoint, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce muscle and joint soreness associated with playing golf.”
Glover, 39, is having his best season in more than a decade, posting three top-10 finishes, including a fourth place at the Honda Classic. He has been using a variety of Medterra products for the past several months to ease knee pain as well as improve his sleep and alleviate anxiety.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Glover said of his improved play. “I’m sleeping better and I feel like my recovery is better. As far as my overall health, I feel great. I can tell the difference when I wake up in the morning and that’s a big part of it.”
Medterra also has agreements with PGA Tour players Charley Hoffman and Morgan Hoffmann. Along with Glover, all three players had been using Medterra products on their own before signing on as endorsers.
“For such a new industry, trust and transparency are critical. Therefore, we only work with athletes that are truly using and benefitting from the Medterra products,” Hartenbach said.
Glover starts his day with Medterra’s CBD Good Morning pill, which contains caffeine, treats his aches and pains with the company’s CBD Topical Cooling Cream and uses Medterra’s MedOil CBD Tincture drops at other times to help with anxiety and sleep.
“I’ve always had some nagging, aching pains,” the three-time PGA Tour winner said. “Anxiety is something I had also fought. That was the real draw for me. I first tried some that I found at an organic food store. But once I started with pure Medterra products, I noticed an even bigger improvement.”
The rise in CBD use among athletes began in 2018, after the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its banned substance list. While the PGA Tour allows CBD use, it warns players about using supplements that aren’t FDA-approved.
“I don’t have a problem at all with their stance on it,” Glover said of the PGA Tour’s warning. “That’s what they have to do. It’s not what people think. It’s not marijuana. I haven’t come across one thing that has been a negative.”
The World Health Organization in April, 2018, published a report stating that it found “no adverse health outcomes” from CBD use and “no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” Early clinical trials have also shown CBD to be effective in treatment of epilepsy, according to the WHO.
It’s not just athletes using CBD. In a recent poll of 2,500 Americans conducted by New York-based investment research firm Cowen & Co., seven percent said they use CBD products. The CBD market already generates as much as $2 billion in annual sales, according Cowen & Co.’s study. By 2025, the number of Americans using CBD is projected to grow to 10%, generating $16 billion in potential sales, according to the study.
“As regulations continue to become more favorable to CBD, I believe CBD will become a significant part of training regimens for athletes of all levels,” Medterra’s Hartenbach said.
Glover said a week doesn’t go by without other professional golfers approaching him.
“More and more guys are asking about it,” he said. “We’re not a contact sport per se, but our schedule can be grueling. For golfers, the biggest benefit is calmness and sleep.”
And with the U.S. Open ranking as one of the sport’s most grueling tests, Glover will be looking to remain as calm as possible. He has no plans of stopping his CBD regimen anytime soon.
“It’s helping me, and not just on the golf course,” he said. “It’s helping with my overall life and health.”