Kris Blanks would love to be playing golf right now on the PGA Tour, or even on the Web.com Tour.
Instead, he’s trying to make the most of some unplanned time off by assisting with the baseball and basketball teams of his two young sons.
The former seven-year Myrtle Beach resident has been sidelined by a pair of nagging injuries and some general body discomfort that have all become befuddling.
Though Blanks still hopes to get back on tour within the next couple months, he says the last time he significantly played or practiced was mid-December.
“I can’t really play golf at all right now,” Blanks said. “At this point in my career I just want to feel consistency in my body, feel the same every day and that’s what we’re striving for right now.
“… I’m just tired of staring at my clubs wanting to play.”
The 42-year-old is still feeling discomfort in a left shoulder that was operated on in February 2013 to repair scar tissue and shave a bone to free movement. He can’t hit balls for any extended period without discomfort, and he recently tried to play a round with a friend and quit after 13 holes.
“Every time I tried to go after something it was uncomfortable,” Blanks said. “I don’t want to call it pain, it’s just uncomfortable.”
Pain in his left Achilles has also grown progressively worse over the past year and has become at least as big an issue as the shoulder. He can’t walk without feeling pain and has learned he can’t run around with his 8- and 10-year-old sons.
“It was always a little sore in the morning and go away as I walked. Toward the end of last year it wouldn’t go away and it has progressively gotten worse,” Blanks explained. “I took time off to let everything heal, and that didn’t help it much.”
Even more disconcerting for Blanks is apparent joint inflammation and pain throughout his body. Recent blood tests to determine if he had an arthritic condition came back negative, but that just leaves him quizzical about what is making his body ache. “I wake up every morning feeling like I’m 80 years old,” said Blanks, who added that he took prescription pain pills for a while after his surgery and return to the tour, and believes that may have been masking some issues. “I don’t want to have to pop pills to function as a human being each day.”
The doctor who performed Blanks’ shoulder surgery has died, and he got a new doctor in the past few weeks. They’re trying to formulate a plan that will get him back on tour as soon as possible. “Hopefully within the next two or three months I’ll be ready to go, but I don’t want to play unless I’m ready” Blanks said.
The doctor is addressing the Achilles issue now, hoping to get Blanks’ base solid again and work up from there, believing a compromised foundation might be the root of many of the problems. “I’m trying to be optimistic,” Blanks said. “As my feet have gotten worse so has the rest of my body, so there may be some validity to it.”
Blanks, who lived in Myrtle Beach from 1996-2002 and now resides in Jupiter, Fla., has been a PGA Tour member since 2009 and has a pair of runner-up finishes and nearly $3.2 million in earnings.
He has nine PGA Tour events remaining under his medical extension dating back to the 2013 season. In order to regain full playing privileges he has to earn 350 FedEx Cup points and/or $578,156 through the Wyndham Championship in late August to make the top 125 in either points or money.
He has full Web.com status, but because a player who is eligible for a PGA Tour event can’t play in a Web.com event in the same week, Blanks’ schedule will be fluid when he returns to touring.
“The longer I hold onto those [nine PGA Tour events] my schedule is more in flux. I want to play them as soon as I can and get back to a normal season,” Blanks said. “Had I been fully exempt on the Web.com Tour [in 2014] I think I would have gotten my card back.”
Blanks played in eight PGA Tour events and 11 Web.com Tour tournaments in the 2014 season. He won his first Web.com event, the $550,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open in late March in a playoff after shooting a 62 in the final round. That essentially qualified him for the season-ending four-tournament Web.com playoffs, through which he could have regained full PGA Tour exempt status.
But he practiced and played four consecutive weeks for the first time since his shoulder surgery and didn’t finish inside the top 50 in any playoff event, missing the cut in the final two. “By the fourth week I felt fatigued and weak, like I put my body through more than it was capable of doing at that time,” Blanks said.
Blanks took a month off and planned to play in a couple PGA Tour fall events but couldn’t get through a practice session without discomfort.
“I’m just trying to get back to being healthy. I haven’t been healthy in about 2 ½ years,” Blanks said. “… Luckily my kids are an age that they’re fun to be around, with different sports every day, so I’ve been home to see that. So that’s been a silver lining.
“But I love playing golf in general, and playing golf for a living is a blessing.”