Growing the game of golf is a challenge facing everyone involved in our game around the world. As I have well documented on this blog one of the ways I am trying to grow the game is by exposing the game to a "non-traditional" audience. So far I would say it has been reasonably successful. Many of the 2,000+ kids who have picked up a club for the first time at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital have continued to play after going home. Several staff members (doctors, nurses, therapists, administrators, etc.) have begun playing or started playing more since the inception of the golf program. But with this particular program growing the game is not necessarily the focal point. Helping kids get better through their involvement with a sport is the most important part.
This blog post will be shorter than many of the ones I have written but I wanted to share a quick story about a conversation I had with one of our junior golfers prior to him going home. One of my favorite stories to tell about the program involves a young man named Dakota. He was always one of our "regulars" and made it a point to practice as often as possible. Dakota's initial impression of golf was that it was "stupid and boring." Rather than retell the entire story of that first meeting, please click HERE to read a past post that details it.
When I was at Ranken Jordan a couple of weeks ago Dakota told me the great news that he would be going home soon! Later on that morning he pulled me aside and said he needed to ask my a question. Through golf Dakota and I developed a good friendship so I had no idea what he was going to ask me! He got a serious look on his face and asked if there was anyway I could get him a golf club to take home with him. I told him I would do my best to find something for him to take home. Fast forward a week and it was time for Dakota to go home. However I had to give him the bad news that he wouldn't have a golf club to take home. Instead he would have a brand new full set of U.S. Kids golf clubs!
This is just one of many examples of how important golf has become to many of the kids at Ranken Jordan. There are times like this when the growth of the game impact is easily quantifiable. However what is far more important to me is seeing the improvement in the lives of these kids because they have had the opportunity to pick up a golf club. The smile Dakota had on his face when he saw his new golf clubs is something I will never forget. Have fun with them, Dakota, and don't break any windows!