|Paul Levy, Ted Bishop, Lauri Tanner, Kevin Corn, & Derek Sprague relaxing with two junior golfers|
|Happy, happy, happy|
However the statement that we are not trying to get the kids onto the golf course is also incorrect. We are exposing the game of golf to these kids and many have expressed the desire to continue playing once they leave the hospital. Jack Nicklaus commented that "we need to introduce all kids to the game of golf in a way that is friendly and welcoming." If the kids who participate in our program had not been at Ranken Jordan they would have never been introduced to the game. The atmosphere is always friendly and it is certainly welcoming! The comment from Mr. Nicklaus could have well been included in my last post about expanding to "non-traditional" groups of people to introduce to golf. When one of the kids from our program is discharged from the hospital, they are given all of my contact information and encouraged to continue playing. I have a standing offer to any of the kids to put them in contact with a local PGA Professional who will help them continue playing golf. Many of the kids have left the hospital with golf clubs, golf balls, and other equipment, so they can continue what they have started.
Later this summer we will be taking the kids to Crystal Springs Golf Course where they will have the opportunity to get out onto the driving range and play a couple of holes. The kids will not be playing all 18 holes, or even 9 holes, but they will be playing golf. They will be hitting the shots and making the putts just like everybody else playing at Crystal Springs that day. This is one of the things that has to happen for kids like this around the country to be able to play more golf: they have to have access to golf courses. Many courses are not overly accessible to people with disabilities and plenty are not overly welcoming. Want to see programs like this putting more people on the golf course? Make golf courses more accessible and more welcoming and you likely will see more golfers. The Missouri Golf Association is building a golf course that will be 100% accessible. Golf needs more of this and more people thinking like MGA Executive Director Scott Hovis.
I will undoubtedly write about the time spent on the driving range and golf course at Crystal Springs. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to write more about programs like this being established around the country and local courses welcoming participants to come play . . . regardless of the number of holes that can be completed. The people who spoke negatively about the program because it is not focused on getting the kids on the golf course do not get it. Yes, we would love to see all of these kids on the golf course at some point in the future. Golf is helping each and every one of these kids as they fight, and beat, the challenges they are faced with. More than getting them on the golf course, we want to see smiling faces and positive results from therapy so these kids can get home.