PGM Coordinator Saves Man from Choking at Country Club

June 27, 2020

A dramatic rescue took place on the evening of June 27th following the annual Plainview Open golf tournament at the Plainview Country Club in Plainview, Neb., an event that many PGA Golf Management graduates and affiliates compete in every year.

On Saturday night, Scott Holly, PGA Professional and PGM Internship Coordinator at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and Andrew Robertson, a PGM program alumnus and friend of Holly, were walking in the club parking lot to put their golf clubs in their trucks following the tournament. “We noticed someone else, neither of us knew, walking in the parking lot and both thought something was off,” explained Holly. “About 15 seconds later he started to walk towards us and gestured with his left hand toward his chest a few times.”

“It was clear something was wrong,” said Robertson, “We asked if he was choking and he nodded yes.” Holly quickly performed the Heimlich Maneuver on him, dislodging the piece of steak that was blocking his airway after a few thrusts. “The gravity of the situation didn't sink in until afterwards when he said that he hadn't taken a breath in nearly a minute,” said Holly. Robertson pointed out that there was no one else in the parking lot at the time, and that it was a while before they saw anyone else come outside. “I hate to think what would’ve happened had we not been there,” he said.

The man in question was Jason Norris, a native of Plainview who has been golfing since he was 14. Norris said he had never met Holly personally, but knew of him from tournaments they played in together at the country club. “He is generally on the leader board and I'm generally not, so that's maybe the reason we don't know each other better,” Norris explained, “That's why appreciate it that much more, ‘cause I didn't really know him but he stepped up in a big way when I absolutely needed it most.” Norris said that he had been enjoying a steak dinner with some friends when the food initially became stuck in his throat. Not wanting to make a spectacle, he walked away from his group. “I got to the parking lot and realized I was seriously choking and probably hyperventilating,” he said. It was at that point that Holly stepped in. “I’m so thankful that he was there,” Norris said, “From what I've heard Scott is a great human being and I will try my best to pay it forward whenever I can.”

Many students and graduates from the UNL PGM program have been part of the Plainview Country Club family over the years. Tim Knaak, president of the club, wanted to be sure Holly was recognized for his quick thinking and heroic action to aid a member of their community. “It has been a pleasure for our golf course to host Scott,” he said. “He has been a consummate competitor and professional—and now he gets to add ‘HERO’ to the list.”

For his part, Holly remains humble about the incident. “I certainly don't feel heroic, I feel like anyone in that situation would have done the same thing,” he said. “I just happened to be the one that was there.”

The National Safety Council recognizes choking as one of the top four causes of accidental death in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, the universal sign for choking is holding one or both hands on the neck. Additionally, if the choking victim cannot speak or cough, there could be a complete airway obstruction that needs emergency intervention. The ideal place to do the Heimlich maneuver is right above the belly button and just below the chest.