Kingsport golf pro thankful to be alive and for outpouring of support | sports

KINGSPORT — Chris Woods is back home and ready to get back to work. And he’s savoring every second of his second chance.

Woods, a local golf professional and teacher who owns Golf Amplified in Kingsport, fell ill while on a trip to Arizona in February, when he was going to marry his fiancee, Ashlee Kizer.

Instead, Woods wound in the hospital with what was later up diagnosed as severe pancreatitis. He spent 65 days in the hospital fighting for his life.

Now he’s back in Kingsport after his extended stay in Arizona, and he brought back with him a new perspective on life.

“Arizona was a life-changing experience for both Ashlee and myself,” Woods said. “The only way I can explain it is my whole perspective on the world is different. Things that used to be in the light are now in the shadow, and what used to be in the shadow is now in the light. If you weren’t changed by what happened out there, then something would be wrong.”


When word of Woods’ condition began to spread, the community of professional golfers sprang into action, raising money every way they could to help with his medical costs. The effort spread statewide as PGA pros came together to help one of their own in need. Local pros filled in for him at Golf Amplified, giving lessons so the business could survive.

Woods gets emotional when he thinks about all the help he has received.

“I’ve cried so many times,” he said. “I’m an outgoing guy but I don’t let a lot of people in my inner circle. I’ve said to my fiancee tones of times, I just don’t have that many friends, kind of by choice. And then something like this happens and the outpouring of support and from across the state, it’s just been amazing. It kind of puts it in perspective. I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t realize I touched that many people’s lives.”


Woods says he wouldn’t be where he is today without Kizer’s love and help.

“I was out there for two months, but I was asleep for the first month basically,” he said. “I was unconscious and I couldn’t possibly imagine going through what she went through just staring at me in a bed. She’s the superhero in this. There were multiple occasions where I was basically dead. They were kind of keeping me alive and they would get to a point where they would look at her and say they really can’t do anything else. I couldn’t possibly imagine what that was like.”

Woods finally came out of the coma on March 15, not knowing what had happened.

“I remember being in an emergency room at another hospital and the next thing I know I wake up,” he said. “The first day that the PT people came in to help me start my physical therapy and I tried to stand up. It took every ounce of my being to stand up. I didn’t understand until that moment that my body had completely reset. I’ve always been a pretty good athlete. I’ve always felt pretty strong, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt weaker or more fragile than that moment when I tried to stand up.”

Shortly after that, Kizer began giving Woods social media updates to see how much support he’d had.

“I remember spending the rest of that afternoon getting the catch-up from Ashlee where she gave me the play-by-play,” he said. “We have a playlist on our iTunes and I was listening to that music just bawling, being amazed at how lucky I was to be alive. There wasn’t a day that we didn’t cry. We just felt so lucky and it was overwhelming.”


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Woods’ weight dropped dramatically, and he says it’s not a weight-loss program he would wish on anybody.

“I think I got down to 162 and I don’t think I’ve weighed that since middle school,” Woods said. “I’m just really weak right now. When I pick up a golf club, it’s heavy. And that’s a little depressing. But I’ve been grinding, working my way back. I’m getting stronger every day.”

Getting stronger every day is the goal, but Woods says having the patience it will require isn’t necessarily in his DNA.

“It’s a marathon,” he said. “And that’s not my strong point. I’m more of a sprinter. Truth be told, I’m not the most patient guy in the world, but overall, just to be here … there’s not a day I’m not thankful for. It’s crazy. You just read about that kind of stuff happening to other people. You don’t think it’s going to happen to you.”


Woods and Kizer never did get married in Arizona, but they have plans to do so in a private ceremony in the coming weeks.

In addition, Kizer is pregnant and they are expecting a boy in October. That is spurring Woods to continue to get stronger because, he says, “I don’t want her having to take care of the baby and me.”

October is also when the PGA Tri-Cities Chapter will hold its annual championship. Woods is the defending champion and he’d like nothing better than to be able to compete again.

“Even if I could just tee it up for that event, I think I’d feel pretty lucky,” he said.


Bryan Bentley, the professional at Pine Oaks Golf Course in Johnson City and one of Woods’ closest friends, is putting on a fund-raising tournament on June 17. The event has drawn teams from across the state.

An auction, featuring items such as a Derrick Henry autographed jersey, a Hank Williams autographed guitar and a Callaway Masters staff bag signed by some of the Callaway-sponsored pros, is being held. To see the entire list of items and how to bid, visit

The entry fee for the tournament is a minimum donation of $50 per player. Golfers will play in their own groups and play their own ball. Teams will be randomly generated after play is finished. Call Pine Oaks at (423) 434-6250 or visit for more information.


Woods is taking it slowly at Golf Amplified, giving lessons in two-hour blocks so he can work his way back into the routine.

“We had a waiting list of about 30 people waiting for lessons, which is overwhelming,” Woods said. “It feels great. I was a little nervous the first time I got back in there. I can’t quite get in there and be as hands-on as I want to be, as I had been in the past, but it’s good. It’s teaching me some new things and maybe new ways to teach.

“I’m hoping to be back to normal, but I don’t know if normal’s the right word because I don’t know if I’ll ever be normal again.”

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