A program like we have at Ranken Jordan does not happen by accident. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication from those directly involved with the program. It also takes help from others who do not always receive the credit they deserve.
As for those who have been directly involved and extremely instrumental in the ongoing success of this program, the staff at Ranken Jordan is at the top of the list. Janine Roe, Jon Loesch, and Eric Wallach have devoted countless hours and energy to help encourage the kids to play and practice as often as they want. Lauri Tanner, CEO & President of Ranken Jordan, has provided unwavering support from day 1. She, Brett Moorehouse, and the board of directors saw the significance of this amazing program and have encouraged us to take it as far as we can . . . and then some! The other people who have had a direct and important impact on the program are the local PGA Professionals who have helped provide instruction. It doesn't take them any more than 1 visit to see why this program is so important to me!
The Gateway PGA Foundation and Josh Riley, Executive Director of the Gateway PGA, have been more generous and giving than I could have ever imagined. When I approached Josh about getting involved with this program he jumped at the opportunity. He and the Foundation's board have ensured that the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan would not cost the hospital a cent. Not only that, but our annual Golf Day 100 Hole Marathon contributes a portion of the money raised to Ranken Jordan. Last year's event was able to donate almost $11,000 to Ranken Jordan! This year we hope to double that amount (www.pgagolfday.com).
While looking back at the first two years of the program I see ways that I would like to improve and expand what we offer to the kids. Each of these ideas will require community support. One idea came as a result to Dave & Buster's where several of the kids got to "play" Pebble Beach on the golf simulator! Over the next few months I would like to add an OptiShot golf simulator system for the kids to use at Ranken Jordan. The other primary addition I would like to make to the program involves getting them on the course for some competition! In the long run I can see it including other hospitals and a full-blown golf tournament for the kids!
While this blog entry doesn't focus on specific stories about the kids or the reasons behind starting the program, it illustrates the wide variety of folks involved in making the junior golf program successful. I hope it will show other professionals that there are ways to start a similar program with minimal financial burden to the pediatric facility. I also hope somebody would like to help make the goal of adding an OptiShot simulator system a reality!