Back from the dead: Why your golf course NEEDS a defibrillator

15 July 2019 Feature Article



John Blackburn and Hickleton greenkeeper Carl Flavell recall the day that John died, and how he was brought back from the brink with the help of the club's portable defibrillator.

The issue of the availability of portable defibrillators on golf courses is one that has received a large amount of publicity in recent years, ever since Bernard Gallagher had his life saved using one. 

So many golf courses have that one hole that the locals refer to as ‘cardiac hill’ but for many golfers that joke has become a reality and it’s a sad fact that incidents on the golf course are a fact of life… and death.

They have a defibrillator at Hickleton Golf Club near Doncaster and no one is more thankful for that than John Blackburn. In September last year John was playing in the club’s Senior Open when he suffered a severe heart attack on the first hole. Over the next few hours his heart stopped and he effectively died at least five times. Luckily, however, the club’s greenkeeper Carl Flavell is a trained first aider and the club had installed a defibrillator a few years earlier. Carl was able to use the equipment to get John’s heart started over and over, until an ambulance arrived on the scene.

Last week, almost a year since the incident, John and Carl were reunited at Hickleton and they invited BIGGA’s Karl Hansell along for a chat. If your golf course doesn’t have a portable defibrillator on site yet, you’re going to want to listen to this one…

The Green Room Golf Course Podcast is produced by Karl Hansell on behalf of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.

For questions, comments or concerns, you can get in touch by emailing

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Karl Hansell
Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Communications Manager


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