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Hip replacement revives pro caddie’s life

Written By: Shelley Vanker, UT Physicians | Updated: April 23, 2024
Matthew Page

Matt Page underwent a full hip replacement to get back on the green. (Photo by: Kacie Fromhart, UT Physicians)

For professional tour caddie Matt Page, life is on the fairway. A native of The Woodlands, Matt grew up playing golf. He continued during his freshman year at McNeese State University in Louisiana and after a brief career in oil and gas, found his way back to the green.

Golf career

In 2017, he began his professional career caddying on the Korn Ferry Tour – the developmental tour for the PGA. The job requires attending 25-30 tournaments a year and walking at least nine to 18 holes a day, seven days a week, at each tournament.

“You’re on your feet all day, walking over terrain that can be very hilly, and carrying a bag that can weigh anywhere from 45-60 lbs.,” said Matt. “I was burning 3,000 plus calories a day.”

Soreness to pain

In 2020, he says he began to notice an ache in his right hip.

“It started as just a little soreness if we were walking a tough course,” Matt said. “I didn’t really think anything of it at the time.”

In 2023, Matt followed his golfer as he advanced to the PGA TOUR. He caddied a total of 30 tournaments, including the U.S. Open and several international tournaments in Bermuda, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

By this time, he realized the soreness was something else.

“Every time I was sitting on an airplane for more than an hour, when I stood up it would feel like my hip was out of socket,” said Matt. “I was walking with a big limp. It would take five minutes to feel like I could walk normally again.”

His daily regimen of four pain relievers on each tournament day was no longer working, and he needed help. Through a family friend’s recommendation, he found Braden E. Hartline, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at UT Physicians Orthopedics at Rockets Sports Medicine Institute – The Woodlands.


Braden E. Hartline, MD - Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Office of Communications
Braden E. Hartline, MD

Hartline examined Matt’s X-rays and said he knew the caddie was suffering early-onset osteoarthritis.

His X-rays showed what’s classically termed as bone-on-bone changes,” explained Hartline. “His ball and socket didn’t have that cartilage cap on it anymore so that causes pain, stiffness, and shortening of the extremity because everything kind of moves up with that.”

Hartline says the amount of walking required for the job, combined with carrying heavy weight, likely exacerbated a genetic predisposition.

“He didn’t have an overtly big injury that caused this, but more of this chronic condition that was going on,” said Hartline. “He’s a young guy. He was only 39 at the time when I met him, so it’s abnormal to have that amount of arthritis at that age.”

Surgical solution

Even at such a young age, Hartline says Matt was a good candidate for a full hip replacement because the technology has the potential to provide a lifelong fix.

“We’ve gotten to the point where the components aren’t wearing out,” said Hartline. “It’s a good operation to get people back to being functional, so we don’t have to make people wait until they’re 65 anymore.”

Matthew Page consulting with Dr. Hartline
Pro tour caddie Matt Page was back to walking within two months of a full hip replacement from Braden E. Hartline, MD. (Photo by: Kacie Fromhart, UT Physicians)

Anterior hip replacement

Hartline, an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, conducted an anterior hip replacement in late November 2023.

“There is good literature that shows a quicker recovery with an anterior hip replacement,” said Hartline. “We don’t have to cut through muscles. We go in between two muscles down to the hip and do all the bone work.”

He says the outpatient surgery lasts about 90 minutes and leaves a four- to five-inch scar.

With a successful hip replacement, Hartline says, most people can get back to doing anything they want, including high levels of activity.

Back on the green

Matt was discharged the same day and left the surgery center using a walker for balance.

“The first week was tough,” he said. “You have to learn to walk again, and you start with a walker and then you graduate to a cane.”

Within two weeks, he says he was able to walk unassisted. Physical therapy was added and lasted for several weeks. Rehab included using the elliptical while wearing a weighted backpack to mimic a golf bag.

“His goal was to get back to working in the new year,” said Hartline. “He felt a lot better early, and he was getting stronger and stronger.”

By the end of January, Matt was on his first flight to caddie for a golfer on the Korn Ferry Tour in Panama City, Panama.

“That course is probably one of the hardest courses that we walk the entire year, and that was my first one back,” said Matt. “I was able to do that event. It was amazing.”

Full recovery after a full replacement

Matt says the pain in his right hip has disappeared and so has the limp. Since the Panama City tournament, he has returned to the Korn Ferry Tour full-time.

“I don’t have formal restrictions on patients after hip replacements,” said Hartline. “So, I expect him to try to live like he doesn’t have a hip problem anymore.”

Matt says Hartline’s work not only solved his pain but likely changed his life, giving him more time to do what he loves. 

“From the first appointment, he was putting me at ease,” said Matt. “I felt confident in Dr. Hartline the whole way and knew this was the right decision.”

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.