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To contribute to the Ranken Jordan junior golf program or to ask any questions please e-mail me at This blog is not affiliated with Ranken Jordan. The views expressed on this blog are those of the author and not those of Ranken Jordan. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If You Build It . . .

As you may imagine, it is quite difficult for many of the kids we see at Ranken Jordan to have regular access to golf courses once they are discharged from the hospital and go home.  Part of this is uncontrollable due to their physical limitations.  But another part of it is totally controllable.  This part would include having the necessary carts available for the kids or simply having an area of the driving range that is easily accessible by those who either cannot walk or have difficulty walking.  Almost all of the kids who participate in our golf program do not require getting on the actual golf  course to have fun.  They simply enjoy getting out on the driving range to hit some balls.  Would they enjoy going out on the course to play?  Absolutely.  And there is no reason why they shouldn't be able to if they want to.  Unfortunately the specialized golf carts that many would need are very expensive and at times difficult to find.  As an alternative to the expense related to these carts, golf courses could provide an area at the driving range for these kids to easily access.  You would think this would be standard because of federal regulations set forth by the ADA but it is simply not the case.

One organization that is doing their part to provide an opportunity for golfers with disabilities to play is the Missouri Golf Association.  Scott Hovis, Executive Director, has unveiled a plan for a 100% accessible golf course to be built at their headquarters at Turkey Creek in Jefferson City, Missouri.  The 18 hole course will have no hole greater than 120 yards in length, continuous cart paths, and greens made of a synthetic surface that will allow carts onto the greens in all conditions.  You may read "synthetic greens" and cringe.  However, for those of you who have not seen some of the new options for turf you would be amazed at what is out there now.  I would have no issues putting on artificial greens.  In fact, many PGA Tour players have synthetic greens at their homes to practice on when they are not on the road.  This project is just one of many exciting things happening within Missouri and the Gateway PGA Section.

The 74th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid will be at Bellerive Country Club in May.  One factor that played a significant role in the PGA awarding this championship to Bellerive was the creation of the PGA REACH program.  This program looks to measurably improve and advance opportunities for St. Louis youth to succeed in life.  Rather than create an entirely new charity to start working from scratch, the great minds behind this program decided to partner with existing charities to enhance the programs already in place.  The focus of PGA REACH is to keep kids in school thereby improving their future economic opportunities and provide healthy recreational alternatives to keep them on the right track.  The PGA of America thought so highly of this program that they will be taking it to a national level and incorporating it into every championship they run in the future.  Josh Riley and the group assembled who created this should be commended for their great work!  You can read more about the program by clicking this link:  PGA REACH article.

The Gateway PGA is working in other areas to grow the game of golf across all demographics.  Recently they announced the PGA H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program that affords wounded and disabled vets, both active and retired, the opportunity to learn and play the game of golf.  This program will work hand-in-hand with the VA hospital at Jefferson Barracks to show our military personnel how they can still play, or learn to play, a game they will love (although at times it will frustrate them to no end!).  Fund raising efforts like the Boots on the Greens golf tournament will help provide the means necessary to have the required equipment and instruction available.

It is evident from reading the posts on this blog that my focus is centered around growing the opportunities to learn the game of golf to kids in pediatric hospitals or rehabilitation facilities.  However, golf can have a tremendous therapeutic effect on people from all walks of life whether able-bodied or not.  Continuing to expose people from every demographic group is vital to the long-term success of golf.  I strongly encourage anyone taking the time to read this to find a program that is important to you and support it.   Of course my preference would be the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan, but supporting any type of golf program similar to the ones mentioned in this post would be wonderful.  Not only will the active participants benefit from your support, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to the success of an amazing golfer development program.

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