This Week, Dr. Mansur Makes Time For Herself September 13, 2014 By Lisa D. Mickey

Dr. Lisa Mansur did not qualify for match play, but was thrilled with the experience of competing in another USGA event. (USGA/Jonathan Ernst)

DEAL, N.J.– Pace of play will never be an issue for Dr. Lisa Mansur. Time is not something the Lincoln, Neb.-based physician has to spare.

Time to spend with her husband and four children. Time to adequately treat and care for her pulmonary critical care patients. Time to train for an annual half-marathon and take regular fitness runs. And time to squeeze in nine or even 18, holes of golf to prepare for this week’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.

Always and forever, the clock is ticking and the good doctor is on the move.

They call me ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ at the golf course where I play, said Mansur, who turns 51 on Sept. 19. I’m lucky because I love to be a physician and I love to play golf. I just wish I had more time to play.

Mansur started playing golf at age 6 and has been in love with it ever since, eventually playing collegiately at Oklahoma State University.

But that love of golf had to become a part-time relationship for the pulmonologist who grew up in Emporia, Kan. She routinely works six or seven days a week, often 10 or 11 hours a day.

When she plays golf, Mansur is usually ready to go when the sun rises. She prepared for this week’s championship at Hollywood Golf Club by squeezing in practice rounds before work last week. Her first tee shot was in the air by 6:30 a.m., and she would play as many holes as possible within an hour and a half. After work, she would return to the course to putt and chip for one hour each evening.

The club was generous enough to let me grab a cart when their employees were just getting there in the mornings, she said. I don’t get much time to play, and when I do, it’s really a quick nine.

With four kids, prepping for work and preparing for a USGA event last week, it was far more than what I had time to do, she said. I never expected to qualify, but when I did, I was delighted to come here and I tried to come prepared.

Make no mistake, Mansur is an accomplished player who was a semifinalist at the 1980 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. She has also competed in the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Mansur grew up playing at Emporia (Kan.) Country Club, a nine-hole course with narrow fairways and tiny postage-stamp greens. She learned early to keep the ball in the fairway.

Her late grandfather, John Frazier, also was an important influence. After he got off work each day as a civil engineer during the summer months, the two would grab a sandwich and play golf until dark.

Some of my best memories are playing golf with my granddad, said Mansur, who is using her grandfather’s ball marker in this week’s championship. He would use the same swing over and over – just so easy and crisp and repetitive – and hit the ball down the middle of the fairway almost every time.

It was her grandfather who instilled a keen understanding of pace of play in her game. They had fun when they played, but they always kept moving.

He’d say: ‘We’re here to play golf. We’re not here to goof off,’ Mansur said.

Mansur admitted she could hear her grandfather’s voice in her head during Saturday’s opening round of the championship when she struggled mightily in the pouring rain, recording three double bogeys and five bogeys for an opening nine-hole score of 48. She regrouped to finish with a 41 on the second nine.

He would say to me, ‘Don’t dawdle and absolutely show no sign of temper or emotion,’ she said. Even with that rough front nine, he would have told me to keep a good attitude, to focus on tempo and to concentrate.

Mansur has four children with her husband, Bruce, who works as a commercial artist. He also runs the family taxi service when his wife tries to squeeze in some golf.

I have an awesome husband who supports my delusion of playing golf, she said.

Mansur’s medical colleagues, however, know very little about her game. They never play golf together. She suspects few of them know she played collegiately. Their time is spent with heavy patient loads and the required care.

But golf is something that many of her pulmonary patients love to discuss. The doctor and patients often begin conversations about their lungs and conclude by talking about memorable rounds, shots and scores. The game gives them a point of relevance, a connection and a respite from issues of mortality.

One thing I think golf has prepared me for in medicine is you’re always looking for the hazards and for the things that could go wrong, and then you’re always looking for a way to recover when that happens, Mansur said.

The healthy aspect of playing golf also gives her a conversation point with patients who can still enjoy recreational activities.

The game of golf is such a great sport just in terms of sanity and health, Mansur said. I would play golf 24/7 if I could and I’ve been that way since I was 6. It gets you outdoors and I think you can absolutely get better.

Mansur also is certified in palliative care, which she says directs patients and their families in the final journey of life for about two years. On average, that care is typically measured more in weeks to months. 

The doctor spends time talking to her patients, discussing not only their health challenges, but also their hopes, dreams and wishes.

I always ask our patients, ‘Is there anything I can get for you?’ – especially when they are in the final phase of life, she added. The answer I used to get was, ‘Yeah, a million dollars,’ but now, most say they wish they could move and be active again. It just breaks your heart because the mobility of life is what they’re really missing.

For those individuals under Mansur’s care, the clock is also ticking. She tries to teach them not to fear the hazards of their illness, but rather, to focus on their own round of life while they have it. For golfers, that is an easier concept to grasp.

Mansur is using vacation time this week to compete in the Women’s Senior Amateur Championship. Once again, she is maximizing her time while she is here to do something she loves.

It’s more than just a week of golf, said Mansur, who has received Go Mom! texts and emails from her children back home in Nebraska.

After this week, competitive golf will be put on hold until next year.

There’s just no time, she said. Maybe the sport of speed golf, which combines golf and running, should be my sport, because they go well together. I’ve seen it on TV, but I’ve never done it.

For a doctor constantly on the go, it might be time to give it a try.

Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.