That aching hand might be carpal tunnel syndrome. Maybe it’s arthritis. Or it could be Dupuytren’s contracture.
Tim Herron is a PGA Tour golfer who lives in Wayzata and has had Dupuytren’s contracture for about seven years now. He is making people aware of the condition through a national campaign called Facts on Hand.
He is 48 and played in 17 PGA events this year. He finished tied for 11th at the 2018 Fort Worth Invitational, popularly called the Colonial. His chip that landed smack-dab in the cup of the 18th hole at the 2012 U.S. Open was a national sports highlight. He’s been featured in Golf Digest as a tour pro who opted to live in the northern United States. He and his wife felt Minnesota was a good place to raise kids. You might even see him at local stores and on local golf courses.
His next golf adventure is playing in the Web.com Tour Finals this and next month to earn his PGA Tour card. When he turns 50, he can compete in the Champions Tour.
You can see a video of Herron at the factsonhand.com website describing the value of his hands to his golf game.
According to Mayo Clinic, Dupuytren’s contracture is hand deformity that develops over the years. Under the skin of the palm, knots of tissue form, creating a thick cord. That cord can draw the fingers inward toward the palm, making it so they cannot be straightened.
It can make common activities such as putting on gloves difficult. Usually, it affects the pinky and ring fingers.
It is also nicknamed Viking disease because it typically happens to older men of Northern European descent. Medical science has not identified a cause, and it isn’t from repetition or injuries, like carpal tunnel. It does run in families, and people who use tobacco and alcohol or have diabetes have an increased risk.
Herron said was aware of Dupuytren’s contracture because his father has had it for 20 years and his sister for 15 years.
He said his case has progressed in the palm but hasn’t drawn the fingers down.
Golf, he said, has not helped or hurt the condition.
“My dad plays as much golf as I do,” Herron said.
And Dupuytren’s contracture hasn’t affected driving or putting, he said. It does, however, affect shots from the rough. The club slides in his hand, causing pain. And he worries whether the condition will impact his game as he ages.
“Hopefully my hands hold up for for the Champions Tour,” he said.
Herron grew up in Wayzata. He went to college in New Mexico in 1989 and by 1996 was living and golfing in Arizona. He and his wife had twins 12 years ago and, in 2006, moved back to Minnesota. He turned pro in 1993 and has been on the PGA Tour since 1996.
When the Ryder Cup was at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska in 2016, he hosted a party for his fellow golfers, and he probably will again when it returns in 2028. As a Minnesotan, he wants to compete in the 3M Open in 2019 at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine — first official PGA Tour event in the state since 2009.
“Hopefully, I get to play in that,” Herron said.
Surgery and treatment plans are available, he said, and he and his doctor have formed a plan. Herron will wait for now, and if his fingers start drawing back, “then we would take action on what we should do.”