Golf means the world to me. My dad taught me the game, and many of my fondest memories are with him on one of a dozen or so North Georgia public courses. It usually involved a pre-dawn wake up call, a long drive there and a long drive back. When I look back on golf as a kid, the good shots seem great, and the bad shots seem funny. As I went into college and my professional life, my time with my dad was shared with friends, colleagues and professional acquaintances - and still my memories are nothing but smiles. Along the way, I got pretty good at the game. To this day, there is nothing like a large bucket and an empty range.
A year ago, I was hitting some balls at Glen Echo Country Club under the watchful eye of Kevin Corn and wondering why everyone on the range was so miserable. Fat shots, thin shots, hooks, slices...and that was just me. The joy of being able to play seemed to be supplanted with the misery of that thin chip over the green. The good shots of the day were drowned out by the grinding on where a 78 came from, when I believed I should have shot 74. That’s when Kevin offered me the chance to come out to Ranken Jordan and work with the kids.
Kevin has done a great job of speaking about the kids, and the work he and the extremely talented staff of Ranken Jordan have done with the golf program. To that end, before you head out for that next grinding session on the range, think about joining Kevin’s efforts. If you love golf I hope you get involved - for you as a golfer. It’s not a cliche, you will take far more away from the experience than you can ever hope to give the kids.
I can promise you this, you will never see so many smiles on a driving range, and they aren’t just “happy to be there”. They are hitting draws and fades. They are making putts. It’s real golf, and they are just as passionate as the weekend warriors on the driving range. If you work with them, you will remember the fundamentals of the game, and you will remember what it is like to truly love it.
My time at Ranken Jordan was incredibly special. Some weeks ago, a few buddies and I were talking about the greatest shots we’ve ever seen and the usual suspects came up: Justin Leonard’s Ryder Cup putt on 17 at Brookline...Phil through the trees on 13 at Augusta...Tiger flopping in on 17 at the Memorial. But I can tell you the greatest 3 shots I’ve ever seen were by my buddy at Ranken Jordan, who couldn’t stand, calling a draw...then a fade...then hitting it to 2 feet on a 75 yard flag. His celebration was a confident smile, not an over the top fist pump.
I swear to everything that is holy, watch that one time and you will remember everything golf is all about. Get involved, wherever you are. It’s the best thing you’ll do for you, and if you’re lucky the kids might let you play with them.