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!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dakota Gets His Wish

Several months ago a new patient was admitted to Ranken Jordan.  He was a bit older than many of the kids, maybe 16 or 17 years old, and in a wheelchair.  I did not know then why he was in a wheelchair and I still do not know why he is in a wheelchair now.  As it relates to golf the "why" is irrelevant and has no bearing on teaching him how to play golf.  The only problem with teaching him to play golf is how he responded the first time he came to a clinic.  To say this young man wasn't overly excited about learning to play golf is a gross understatement.  Our initial conversation went something like this:

Me:  Good morning, do you want to come join us and play golf?

Dakota:  No, this game is stupid and boring.  I don't want to play.

Me:  Are you sure?  All the kids enjoy it and have fun playing.

Dakota:  No, it is stupid!

Me:  OK, why don't you just hang out here and watch.  If you want to play later just let us know.

This is a story I have told a thousand times and many of you have probably heard it by now.  About 10 minutes before the end of that first clinic Dakota picked up a putter, found an empty putting green, and started rolling a few putts.  None of us said a word.  Even as he made putt after putt after putt we still didn't say anything.  The next week went pretty much the same.  He agreed to hit some putts but refused to do anything else because "this is still stupid and boring."  Before we knew it he put the putter down and grabbed a wedge so he could hit some chip shots.  Later that week he asked the therapists to get the golf clubs out so he could practice.  Next thing we knew he was hitting drivers as straight as an arrow.  During one of our trips to a local driving range he was hitting those drivers 125-150 yards without any trouble.  Fast forward to the end of last summer and Dakota went home for his senior year of high school.  He promised to stay in touch and keep working on his golf game.

True to his word we stayed in touch and he kept me updated on school, golf, and everything in between.  March 22 rolled around and I received an e-mail from him.  Only this was not like the typical messages we exchanged.  He told me in this message what he wanted for high school graduation.  As I read through this message the young man who initially said golf was "stupid and boring" asked me if I would be willing to play golf with him once he successfully completes his senior year and graduates.  I was not able to type "when & where" fast enough!  What he doesn't know (unless he's reading this) is that I am looking forward to that round more than he is.  Today we began to put things in motion to make his wish come true.

Earlier today a group of the kids from Ranken Jordan got to spend a couple of hours at the Quarry at Crystal Springs Golf Course in Creve Coeur, MO.  Dakota was one of the kids who went to hit golf balls on the driving range and enjoy a day outside.  Thanks to the Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis we were able to have a single passenger cart with the swivel seat available for Dakota to use.  The hours upon hours of practice time he has put in at Ranken Jordan and at driving ranges finally turned into his first trip onto the golf course!  Once he was secure in the golf cart Dakota wasted no time making his way to the first tee and ripped a drive right down the middle.  For about an hour he had a smile plastered on his face that never went away.  Of course, all of us out there with him had the same type of smile on our faces.  We made our way through the first hole, played the second hole, and I told Dakota we probably should head back in so he could eat lunch.  He looked at me, pointed, and said, "the third tee is that way."  I laughed and off we went to #3.

As we made our way down the third fairway, Dakota cleared the water hazard crossing the fairway with no problem and knocked his golf ball up onto the green.  He struck each shot solidly, made some nice putts, and had more fun than I have ever seen him have.  Today I did not pick up a club or hit one shot while we were out there and it was still the most fun, most rewarding day I have ever spent on the golf course.  Getting a hole in one, making birdie on the 17th at Pebble Beach, or shooting 63 to set a course record do not begin to compare with what I was a small part of today.  When we left Dakota made it a point to thank me before he got in the van to head back to Ranken Jordan.  No, Dakota, thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment