As the legal use of marijuana spreads from state to state, it’s “high time” for GolfDigest.com’s always entertaining Undercover Tour Pro to address playing on weed–and if he likes the Tour’s more stringent drug testing.
As a player who has smoked pot regularly for the past few years, I’m not worried. In fact, I applaud what the tour is doing.
The devil, you might say, is in the levels. Under the new policy, the amount of marijuana that can be in my system is being raised by a factor of 10. The threshold for failing a test was 15 nanograms but will now be 150 nanograms. How much is that? Marijuana is tricky because it stays in the system for a long time, and bodies process it at different rates. But a doctor friend tells me I could smoke a dozen days per month and possibly stay under the limit. I always drink a lot of water, as being hydrated helps avoid detection.
The priority is to prevent athletes from gaining a competitive advantage, not to embarrass them. Among PGA Tour players, no one cares about recreational drugs. As even regular golfers can tell you, ripping a bowl is going to help you make birdies about as much as chugging a beer. As in, you can delude yourself into thinking a little “swing oil” or “green wax” helps, but in any money game, your opponent would love to see you imbibe.
Have I ever been high in a PGA Tour event? Sure. Haven’t done it often, but if I’m teeing off Sunday near last place with no way to move up the leader board meaningfully, I’ll treat myself to making the day a little more fun, or at least different. I’ve smoked beforehand with the other players in my group, too.
Clearly, there’s a cultural shift happening with weed as legalization spreads, and the more lenient threshold on our tour is a small part. I’m not looking forward to having my blood drawn, but if it catches a few guys trying to get stronger and longer by real cheating, here’s my arm. With the new program, the rumor with our disciplinary policy is everybody’s slate is wiped clean.