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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two of a Kind

This past summer I played in the fund-raising tournament held each summer to benefit Ranken Jordan.  As our group was driving up to the 18th tee we noticed 2 carts waiting for us.  Sitting in those carts were two of the best young junior golfers I have ever worked with (of course they weren't just sitting there for long as both of them had to play a couple of holes while they were there).  I have worked with other junior golfers who hit the ball farther or could shoot lower scores.  But none of those other juniors had the determination and courage that these two young men possess.  Here is why these two always left me in awe of their ability and attitude.

The first young man had to be coaxed into giving golf a try.  The first time he came to Warner's Corner to see what we were doing he was asked if he wanted to hit some shots.  His response was, "I don't want to.  Golf is stupid."  About 10 minutes before the clinic was over I looked over to see him push his wheelchair up to a golf bag and grab a putter.  He started hitting putts . . . and making almost all of them!  We let him do his own thing and stayed at a distance.  The next week he decided he'd hit some putts but that was it.  Sure enough, about 10 minutes before the end of the clinic he started hitting some chip shots.  The same thing happened the following week when he began taking longer swings.  It wasn't long before he was asking the therapists to get the golf clubs out during the week so he could practice!  Before he was discharged from Ranken Jordan he joined us at a local restaurant that has a golf simulator.  We were able to move things around to accommodate his wheelchair and he wound up getting to "play" a few holes at Pebble Beach Golf Links.  Following his discharge he has e-mailed me several times to let me know when he's going to the golf course or driving range.  Not bad for someone who only a few short weeks before had no interest in playing because "golf is stupid!"

The second young man is also confined to a wheelchair.  He played a variety of sports, and was good in all of them, before a tragic accident took away the use of his legs.  Not surprisingly, he began to play wheelchair basketball and has excelled at that.  Before coming to Ranken Jordan he had never played golf.  The second he picked up a golf club it was obvious he was going to be very good very quickly.  He started bombing the ball across the field we use.  It wasn't long before we started working on small mechanical issues in his swing to improve his ball striking and consistency.  When we visited the driving range at a local golf course, he was hitting his driver about 125 yards and dead straight!  All of us there working with the kids that day were blown away.

Both of these young men have continued to play since leaving the hospital.  You might think that being confined to a wheelchair would hinder their ability to play and enjoy golf.  Not so with these two.  Both of them learned quickly that they enjoyed the game and were determined to play it to the best of their ability.  Each of them showed up for the weekly clinics with a smile on their face.  They each hit ball after ball after ball for an hour.  Many times I stayed after the clinic so they could keep hitting.  These are only two of the many inspirational stories I will share through this blog.  Hopefully you will enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoy telling them!

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