When I first walked into Ranken Jordan - A Pediatric Specialty Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, in March of 2011, I went in with the goal of starting a golf program to help the kids who are there as patients. Not long after arriving and looking around I knew I was going to do something to help the kids . . . and I hoped it would still involve a golf program. Ranken Jordan is by itself a very impressive facility. When you pull up to Ranken Jordan it is not readily apparent that you are in the parking lot for a hospital. Going inside the building gives you the same impression. But while the facility itself is impressive, what makes it so special are the people inside -- the patients and Ranken Jordan staff.
Whether through reading this blog, visiting the Ranken Jordan website (www.rankenjordan.org), or both, you know that the kids are there because of complex medical issues. This may lead you to ask a question I often hear, "What expectations did you have for the kids as it relates to playing golf?" My expectations were simple yet complex at the same time. Every week I go in there I want to show the kids that they can play golf, hit good shots, and have fun with it. Yes, these goals are simple, but given the medical issues each kid faces the goals can also be a bit complex. The complexity comes from finding ways to work within each kid's physical ability and still be able to get the ball airborne. I am quite proud to say that every kid who has participated in our golf clinics has accomplished that goal!
Having the correct expectations is critical to the success of any junior golf program. Most times these expectations involve the golfer progressing from the practice area to the course or could be related to improvements in their handicap index. It is not often that the success of the junior golf program is measured by the number of smiles, high fives, shots hit in the air, chip shots in the net, or putts made. As I mentioned earlier in this post Ranken Jordan is a special place so it seems only appropriate that special criteria are used to measure the success of their junior golfers.