When Symetra Tour rookie Janet Mao said yes to playing a round of golf on the morning of February 13, 2020, she did not know it would become a day that would stick with her forever. For the Northwestern University alumna, it was just another round of golf, another day in her hometown of Johns Creek, Ga., at her home course, St. Ives Country Club; just another opportunity to play with fellow members, another chance to prepare for the start of her professional career.
Upon her arrival to the club, Mao connected with the four members in her group. Always friendly and outgoing, she chatted with everyone before they split into two groups. “It was a beautiful day, everything seemed perfectly normal,” she said.
The first hole was uneventful. By the second, the round was assuming a rhythm. But as Mao’s group approached the second green, they saw the group ahead waving frantically. Something didn’t seem right.
“I remember yelling, ‘Oh my gosh, it looks like somebody's on the ground,’ and we went straight to the green,” said Mao. “Luckily, the people that he was playing with had already started taking action. One of them had started compressions and was calling 9-1-1, another was trying to reach the clubhouse while a third was trying to call a loved one. I told them, ‘I'll take care of compressions while you guys keep doing that and we can kind of handle what we can handle.’ The person I was playing with got in the cart and rushed to the clubhouse. I just continued doing compressions, since he was unresponsive, until the paramedics arrived.”
Without the immediate response from all parties, including Mao, the man likely would not be with his family today. Not only does Mao express her gratitude for those individuals on the course, but she is also thankful for the medical background she got as a pre-med student at Northwestern. Her degree is in neuroscience and Mao also received CPR training through the athletic department.
“I reached out to one of my former advisors at Northwestern trying to pinpoint exactly when and where I received CPR training,” Mao added. “After telling them the whole story, I said I'm just really grateful I had training in the past because you really never know when you’re faced with a situation and might need it. I tried to really encourage the athletic department to continue doing the training with the student-athletes and staff.”
Having previous education on this type of emergency scenario, Mao understands and supports the value of taking a class or two on the subject. She encourages everyone to take the time to get educated.
“It’s kind of a life skill in a sense, you never know when you're going to need it,” said Mao. “Especially in the golf world, some courses you might not be that close to [a clubhouse or] someone and just having an understanding of how to remain calm, what to do in any type of situation is really important.”