In recent years the PGA of America, an organization of which I am very proud to say I am a member, and the United States Golf Association have placed a tremendous emphasis on growth of the game. Given the lousy economy our country has faced for several years and the decline in the golf industry this is totally understandable. At times I feel that they are missing a large segment of potential golfers who are excited about learning and playing the game. This group of people would include the kids I work with at Ranken Jordan and those in similar situations across the country. Think about it this way, when one of these kids decides he or she wants to continue playing golf after they leave the hospital, they will very likely require at least 1 person to go with them. It is unlikely that person will always just sit and watch. At some point they will pick up a club and start playing. Suddenly we have 2 or 3 new people interested in and playing the game of golf.
The big question becomes how do we get these kids and their families interested in golf? Simple. We take the game to them. That is exactly what we have done at Ranken Jordan and it is what is done in the programs in Dallas and south Florida. To grow the game of golf we cannot rely on people to come to us. At some point we as PGA Professionals and other industry "experts" have to be proactive and take the game to people who could enjoy learning and playing. This is where the PGA and USGA can, and should, get involved. Developing a national initiative that takes the game to kids in pediatric hospitals in each of the 41 PGA Sections would be a dream come true for me. It didn't take me long to understand how important this program is to the kids at Ranken Jordan. Once I saw that I started asking why is there not at least 1 similar program in every PGA Section.
Almost every PGA Section has multiple pediatric facilities that would benefit from a junior golf program. As I mentioned in a recent post the financial requirements are very low to start a program (thanks to the very reasonable pricing of U.S. Kids Golf clubs). Equipment needs are minimal and do not take up a great deal of storage space when not in use. Because of using the Almost golf balls space requirements are greatly reduced (and the ability to work indoors is a huge bonus). I know that there are many Golf Professionals in every section who would do a wonderful job working with kids in pediatric hospitals. So why don't we have at least 41 of these programs? That is a question that is still unanswered but one of my goals with this blog is that other PGA Professionals will read it and decide that they want to start a similar program in their area.
To those of you outside the St. Louis metropolitan area who are reading this, I challenge you to find a local pediatric facility and start a junior golf program (if you are not a PGA Professional I can put you in touch with one). For those of you in the St. Louis metropolitan area, I challenge you to forward this to someone outside our area who would be interested in starting a junior golf program at a pediatric facility. To reach my goal of 1 of these programs in each of the 41 PGA Sections it will require your help in spreading the word about the few programs already enjoying tremendous success. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.