85-year-old man saves 77-year-old brother on Utah golf course

Denny, Blaine and Brent Wood pose for a picture. Denny Wood (left) was saved by his brother Blaine Wood (center) after having a heart attack on a St. George golf course earlier this year. Brent Wood contacted KSL.com about the story.

Denny, Blaine and Brent Wood pose for a picture. Denny Wood (left) was saved by his brother Blaine Wood (center) after having a heart attack on a St. George golf course earlier this year. Brent Wood contacted KSL.com about the story. (Brent Wood)


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Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

ST. GEORGE — This Thanksgiving weekend has many Utahns reflecting on gratitude for family, probably none more so than the Wood brothers. Earlier this year, 85-year-old Blaine Wood used his CPR training to help save the life of his 77-year-old brother on a St. George Golf course.

On Aug. 23, Blaine was on the Sun River Golf Course when he saw movement and then heard a thud. He immediately turned his head to find his younger brother Denny Wood laying on the ground lifeless. Instantly, he knew what it was, and what he needed to do about it: Denny Wood had a heart attack and would need CPR if he was going to survive.

That August day started out relatively routine for the two retired brothers. Both lovers of the game of golf and certified course surveyors, they were commissioned with the task of surveying the Sun River Golf Course to give it a course rating. According to Blaine Wood, while this was a hard task, it wasn't anything they weren't used to doing.

"When you do a course rating, you go over the whole course measuring it, giving a slope rating, as well as all of the other things so you can give the course an overall score," Blaine Wood explained. "When you are done with all the measurements and different ratings, you go out and play on the course to see if your rating is correct. So, when we were done, Denny, I, and a couple of others went out to play 18 holes."

Blaine Wood said that although the morning had gone well, his younger brother hadn't been feeling great.

"The evening before, Denny was complaining about not feeling well," he recalled. "He didn't have an appetite and didn't sleep well. He was doing fine during the scoring and during the first 17 holes."

It was at the 18th hole when Blaine Wood saw his younger brother go down.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. Then I saw him hit the ground, and he was out," he said. "My first thought was that this was a heart attack. Denny has a history of heart problems. He had quadruple bypass surgery in 2006, and I knew that this must be a heart attack."

Blaine knew immediately that he would need to perform CPR, but he was out of practice.

"I had only done CPR once before on a student in my PE class 50 years ago when he had drowned," Blaine Wood recalled.

Thankfully, another man surveying the course with them was retired Utah highway patrolman, Ted McGregor. Together, over the course of the next 10 minutes, the two of them administered CPR to Denny Wood, who lay lifeless on the course, while their other friend, Jim Kaiserman, called 911 and located a defibrillator.

"I kept on yelling, 'Come on, Denny! You and do it," Blaine Wood said. "I didn't want to lose him, but I thought he was for sure gone. When the ambulance finally came, I was sure that I would never see my younger brother alive again. I actually called my wife and explained what was happening, and I was hoping for the best and expecting the worst."

Hope prevailed when Blaine Wood got the call saying that his younger brother was alive. It wasn't until Blaine Wood saw his brother in the hospital, however, that he knew that Denny Wood would really be OK.

"When I got to the ER after Denny's surgery, I knew he was alright because he was talking to the cardiologist about golf," he chuckled.

The other side of his story

Denny Wood is not only alive and well, but filled with gratitude and a story to share.

He confirmed the events leading up to his heart attack, adding a few more details to help paint a picture of the events.

"I hadn't been feeling up to snuff the night before, but I was doing well on the course up through the 17th hole," Denny Wood recalled. "I finished the 17th hole, and went to the 18th hole to tee off, and I thought that maybe I could birdie. I leaned over to pick up the tee, and then my vision went really bright. It was like the old style of photography with the flashbulbs, and then everything went black and I was out. The next thing I knew, I was talking to the cardiologist who told me I had just had a heart attack.

"They put four stents in me on the vein they'd used to do my bypass surgery, and they got my plumbing all functioning again. I was conscious during the whole procedure. "

He recalled a conversation he had with his wife, months prior, that was funny in a non-funny sort of way.

"As you get older, you start to look at life as being short-term, and you sometimes talk about how you'd like to go," Denny Wood said. "I told my wife that I'd like to die like Bing Crosby, who died after playing a round of golf with friends. After my heart attack, my wife said that she was sure glad I didn't finish that 18th hole. Maybe it just wasn't my time to go, and maybe I'll only play 17 holes from now on."


I kept on yelling, 'Come on, Denny! You and do it. I didn't want to lose him, but I thought he was for sure gone. When the ambulance finally came, I was sure that I would never see my younger brother alive again.

–Blaine Wood


All jokes aside, Denny Wood said that he is so grateful to his older brother, the other men who were with them, and emergency responders for saving his life.

"It is a real blessing to have family who's around to help you through," Denny Wood said. "When you're 85 years old, you don't expect to have to resuscitate your younger brother. I told Blaine that I owe him one."

If one were to ask Blaine Wood if his younger brother owned him anything, he'd likely shrug it off. In fact, he sees this experience as a team effort, and one that he says has enriched his life.

"When the officer called to let me know that Denny was alive, he told me that I had saved his life. It really was a team effort. It really couldn't have been done without the help of Ted McGregor, Jim Kaiserman, the emergency responders, and Dr. (Alberto) Brizolara, the cardiologist," Blaine Wood said. "As scary as the experience was, I am grateful for it. Denny and I have always been close, but the bond now is even stronger."

As for the game of golf, Denny Wood is easing back into it. He hopes to continue to play the game he loves — and, maybe just 17 holes of it.

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