Cover Photo: Caddy Hylton “J.J.” James talks to reporters from his St. Joseph Medical Center hospital room. Photo by Kathy Feist
By Kathy Feist
It was a soggy day during the Kansas City Golf Classic at Blue Hills Country Club in early May. Carrying the golf clubs for Ben Kohles, caddy Hylton “J.J.” James, 78, had trouble keeping pace with the 29 year old. He attributed it to the dismal weather, old age, and the saturated turf. But another golfer, 46-year-old Jason Bohn, recognized something different. A former heart attack victim himself, Bohn recommended he visit the paramedics.
James was rushed to St. Joseph Medical Center where doctors discovered a heart valve blockage. A team of cardiologists led by Dr. John Forman performed bypass surgery.
James, who calls Atlanta home, was so touched by the level of care he received from the doctors, he chose to stay in Kansas City rather than be transported to his hometown.
“[The doctors] were so educated and had gone so in depth on how they presented everything to me,” James recalled.
“The surgeon, Dr. Forman, was awesome,” said a tearful James. “He cared.”
“When you’re laying there in bed, you feel like no one gives a [crap]. All I could see was my income going away. I could see being in a bed on my own.”
James also credits Physician’s Assistant Jermey Melton for his sympathetic care. He had undergone the same procedure and was able to provide reassurance.
James, who is the oldest and also well liked PGA caddy, touring since 1985, didn’t have to spend too much time worrying. Players and friends have been contributing to a Go Fund Me Page to offset his expenses. So far, it has raised over $50,000.
“I want to say thanks to all the people: the players, caddies, medical staff,” he said.
James expects to be back on the greens this fall. He left for home May 13 and continues to return for check ups.