Experience has taught Joe Affrunti that rushing back from an injury isn’t good for his golfing future.
The Crystal Lake native has found that a doctor’s prognosis for recovery can be shorter than first expected. But Affrunti has found that forcing his way back onto the PGA Tour schedule before he is ready can’t be an option.
So after undergoing surgery on his left hip Dec. 9, Affrunti doesn’t expect to make his return to professional golf for six to eight months. If it happens faster, fine. But if not, the wait is something Affrunti is prepared to live with.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Affrunti said in a phone interview from Arizona. “I had a lot of momentum over the summer and my game was coming around. So it’s frustrating that I couldn’t keep up that momentum. But I’ll get it back and, hopefully, I’ll be even better.”
The hip procedure is the third major surgery Affrunti has undergone during his pro career. Shoulder surgery forced him to miss more than a year after Affrunti had earned his PGA Tour card for the 2011 season. Affrunti, who has a surgically repaired wrist, still has eight PGA starts to maintain his tour status under a major medical exemption provided by the tour.
Returning too quickly from wrist surgery forced Affrunti to miss another four months after a long period of rehabilitation. It’s a mistake he won’t make again with his hip.
“I’ve had some good seasons, but I think my best golf is still yet to come,” Affrunti said. “Every year on tour I’ve had a few chances to win. Lately, it’s just been a little easier. So when I come back later this year and for next year, I’ll be even better because my mind has slowed down and the game’s coming a little easier mentally and physically.”
Affrunti played in five PGA Tour events in 2013, making the cut three times and earning $49,615. He also made the cut in six of his 12 Web.com Tour events. He narrowly missed out on his first tour win after losing in a playoff in the United Leasing Championship in July. He finished the year with $59,367 in Web.com earnings.
Affrunti’s hip started bothering him midway through the season. He didn’t undergo an MRI until late in the year, which showed a tear that required him to undergo surgery that was performed in Colorado by Dr. Marc Phillippon. A month after surgery, Affrunti is just beginning to walk without crutches and is undergoing six days of physical therapy every week.
For now, his recovery remains Affrunti’s top priority.
“One thing I’ve heard the hard way with rehab is that when you feel good, you want to push it even more,” Affrunti said. “But that’s when you can retweak things if the the muscles aren’t developed enough to handle it.
“I want to get this hip back as soon as possible, but I know I’ve got to be patient.”