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For anyone who has met Mahrty Lehr, one thing's clear: he calls it how he sees it.
That's been the former professional golfer's style throughout his 51-year career as a golf instructor — critiquing the fine details of swings for everyone from amateurs to accomplished pros.
So, when Lehr says he's “delighted” about the quality of care he received at VCU Health, it carries a lot of weight.
Lehr has had some bad luck with injuries over the years. He can rattle off about a dozen operations performed by VCU Health surgeons, including numerous elbow, knee and shoulder operations. However, he says the medical care has continued to put him back in the game.
Orthopaedic surgeon Thomas Loughran, M.D. has been Lehr’s primary surgeon in most recent times, performing a shoulder operation on the golf pro a few years ago that, to his amazement, ended his severe pain from a torn rotator cuff and restored his full range of motion after months of physical therapy.
“I think the guy walks on water. I really do,” Lehr said of Loughran. “Without Tom fixing my shoulder, I’d be dead in the water as far as playing golf.”
Lehr said the pain and limited range of motion tied to his shoulder kept him from playing golf years ago, which is no little thing for a man who started playing when he was 6.
While Lehr has his own share of golfing stories, he really lights up when he talks about how he has helped others improve their swings. Without delay and in vivid detail, he can recall how changing a given person’s swing, even if it was decades ago, improved that person’s game.
“The reason I still teach is because I still enjoy it. I enjoy watching the light come on for a student,” says Lehr, joking that being on a golf course also gives his wife a break from him.
In a recent interview, he pointed to a quote in his 2017 book Side by Side: Golf Lessons with the Pro, in which golfer Natalie Easterly stated: “Mahrty Lehr is an old-soul golf teacher. He patiently taught me the fundamentals of my golf swing in my 30s and 40s. Over the past 30 years of exploring, learning, and working on my swing technique, I am back to his original teachings. He is a diamond in the rough and knows the golf swing and really cares about his students. Mahrty Lehr has the pure wisdom and knowledge to create the most efficient motion for the golf swing.”
Easterly, of Charlottesville, won the 61st Virginia State Golf Association Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in August 2018. She also volunteered at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in 2016 and 2017.
When he’s not golfing or instructing, Lehr, who played as a pro in the PGA TOUR in 1973 and 1974, spends some of his time volunteering for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that helps wounded military veterans. Today, he’s an instructor at Independence Golf Club in Midlothian. Most importantly, the Chesterfield County resident is the father of two daughters and has been married for 49 years to his high school sweetheart.
Lehr said he certainly isn’t as powerful now that he’s in his 70s, compared to his 20s and 30s, but the accuracy of his golf shots is about as good as ever. He’s played as much golf in recent months as any other time over the years. And he thanks Loughran and VCU Health for his return to game.
“They don’t miss a thing,” Lehr said. “They care about what they’re doing. They care about you as an individual.”
VCU Health is a Founding Partner and sponsor of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, held Oct. 18-21 at The Country Club of Virginia, James River Course.
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