Bob Toski, 92, 'was halfway to heaven' after his heart attack, now back to playing and teaching
Remarkable does not seem adequate to describe Bob Toski’s recovery from a life-threatening heart attack on June 4. It is insufficient to note that he is 92 and to muse that he is going on 29. That’s not how he felt Wednesday morning.
“Today I woke up and felt like I was 27 again,” he said from his South Florida home.
This after a long day by anyone’s standard, much less a nonagenarian. A legendary teaching pro and the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1954, Toski was at Atlantic National Golf Club in Lake Worth, Fla., on Tuesday, playing a nine-hole scramble, then teaching the rest of the day. He was on the lesson tee about 10 a.m., he said, and finished around four.
Then it was off to an old haunt in Boca Raton. “I had dinner with [Golf Channel’s] Brandel Chamblee. Took him to Arturo’s, a restaurant where I sing. I’m a vocalist there. I sang two songs, [I Left my Heart in] San Francisco and My Way. I said to Brandel, ‘Tony Bennett made this song famous. Tony and I have one thing in common. We’re both the same age.'"
Toski and Chamblee had arrived at six and left at 10.
Four months ago, Toski's destination was altogether different.
“I was halfway to heaven,” he said. “But He sent me back. Said ‘I’ll call you later.’
“They put two stents in my heart. They were delivering me to ICU and my heart stopped. It stopped five times. They had to regenerate my heart. The answer they gave me when they put the two stents in, the heart flow became so great that blood was rushing too fast. It was like the heart was drowning. They were able to control that so that my heart beat consistently.”
He credits his therapists and nurses for how well he now feels. That along with a walk-in bathtub with a whirlpool device.
“Got it about 10 years ago. Best investment I made,” he said of the tub. “What I do after I get through playing is I sit in there for 20 or 30 minutes. It soothes the muscles and relaxes them. It regenerates the blood flow. When I get through I massage my legs a little bit. What I’m doing is regenerating the flow in my muscles.
“I’m happy that I’m feeling well. I go to my doctor once a month. He says my heartbeat is fine. I’m gaining strength in my legs. That was my biggest problem. The therapy I’m taking from therapists, it’s difficult. They had me walking on my toes and walking on my heels. It’s hard to do. But my body has recovered very well from these therapists.
“My nurses that give me the exercises give me an A every time so I must be doing them right. It’s not easy. It’s like trying to relearn a golf swing. At 92, I’m blessed. I’m blessed because my recovery has been very quick and effective.”
The word frail is often applied to the elderly, but doesn’t fit Toski. He was the size of a jockey in his playing days, 120 pounds, hence his nickname, the Mouse.
“Now I weigh 145 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been,” he said. “Everyday I step on the scale and it’s always 144, 145. My blood pressure is the same every day, too, 118 over 60.”
Even four hours spent with Chamblee, who, according to Twitter, apparently is capable of raising blood pressure readings, did not elevate Toski’s. “He’s one smart person,” Toski said. "He knows the history of the game."
Toski embodies the history of the game. He played alongside Hogan, Nelson and Snead and has lived long enough to watch Tiger and, in the wake of his recovery from a heart attack, whoever and whatever comes next.
"I'm a lucky guy," he said. "[Before] this heart attack I never realized how beautiful the earth is. The sky is bluer, the grass is greener."