How To Help

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!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Unique Expectations

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.

Any number of architects can design a building that you will have a difficult time discerning what it's function is.  What makes Ranken Jordan different are the special people who work there and the very special kids who are there for any number of complex medical reasons.  Talk to anybody associated with Ranken Jordan and you will see a great passion for helping the kids.  The position that person holds, President of the Board of Directors, CEO, recreation therapist, volunteer, etc., is irrelevant.  They are there solely to help the kids.  That passion shines through in all that they do on a daily basis.  Anyone who questions where that passion evolves from needs only to spend a few minutes with any one of the up to 34 kids who are there as inpatients (at any given time there will be a considerable number of out-patients there due to a very well developed community program).  These kids are the reason why Ranken Jordan has to be different from other hospitals.

Whether through reading this blog, visiting the Ranken Jordan website (, 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!

During the education process that is required of all PGA Professionals, we are taught, trained, and tested on teaching techniques and our diagnostic abilities.  We learn the 9 ball flight laws, how each occurs, possible ways to fix them, proper club fitting, etc.  What is nowhere in the curriculum is how to teach a golfer with physical and/or mental disabilities.  While this is the case, knowing and understanding the 9 ball flight laws actually goes a long way towards seeing every kid hit the ball in the air.  PGA Professionals who understand the ball flight laws can find a way to make modifications for each kid that will result in a golf shot getting up in the air.  One smile on the face of a kid who just hit the ball in the air for the first time is all it takes.  I promise you there is no other incentive you will need to find a way to help.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment