Dennis Paulson walked by, which makes most do a double-take. That includes the mother of the former PGA Tour veteran.
“He looks more like my grandfather than my son,” she said.
Paulson didn’t grow old before our eyes but the same can’t be said for his hair. It escapes whatever golf cap he’s wearing these days as a golf analyst, hugging his collar.
“People that haven’t seen me in a while are wondering if I’m going through a mid-life crisis,” Paulson said.
Instead Paulson, 56, is trying to aid those going through life-challenging scenarios.
“This long hair is a pain in the rear,” Paulson said. “Then I think about all those people that have cancer and are going through chemotherapy which makes their hair fall out. Then it’s not so much a pain for me anymore.”
Paulson is donating his hair to make wigs to those stricken by cancer. The disease hits home for Paulson as his immediate and extended family have been affected by it.
So Paulson started sprinting past the barber nearly nine months ago. With his longer hair came additional attention and Paulson wasn’t certain he would see his endeavor through.
Then Paulson crossed paths on tour with Lisa Cink, whose husband Stewart is a pro. She survived a very public fight with breast cancer, a time in which Cink left golf to be by her side.
When she blindsided Paulson about his hair and where it was headed, she was ecstatic.
“That is so awesome,” she said.
Paulson got a dose of just how much what he is doing means to others.
“There was no turning back after that even if the last time I grew out my hair was when I was a surfer in high school,” he said.
“But because my hair is now gray with no pigment, it’s easier for them to dye for a wig. And with it being older hair it’s easier for women to wear it. If it’s hair from a 13-year-old, the hair is too perfect.”
When Paulson’s pompadour reaches the length of a pony tail, it’s cut. Soon there will be enough for a full wig and Paulson couldn’t be happier.
“Anything I can do to make them feel healthier is really what it’s all about,” he said.
Paulson continues to shine as a broadcaster. It’s the second chapter of his career on tour, one that started with him inside the ropes and a club in his hand. The San Diego State product won the 2000 Buick Open, the same season in which he finished in the top 15 at the Masters and US Open.
But starting in 2005 Paulson’s shoulder started to revolt. He would have surgery on it and during his rehabilitation period in ‘06 he was approached about yapping about golf.
“Initially I didn’t want to do because I was still competing,” he said. “That and I was a business major, not a communications major, at SDSU. I had no clue what it was all about.”
When it was all said and done Paulson gravitated toward the media side of the game after his 10-year stint as a player.
He’s now a staple on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio as a host and a commentator during tournament play, working about 20 events a year. He’s also involved with NBC Sports Gold, which offers streaming coverage of golf.
All that makes for someone constantly coming and going from his San Elijo Hills home. Paulson is also avoiding anyone with shears.
“I really had no idea how much it meant to people going through cancer,” he said. “It’s really no big deal for me to do it, but it’s a big deal for the people it will help.”
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports.