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!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Who Says We Need To Adapt?

Over the past several weeks I have been fortunate to have conversations with several people in regards to teaching physically disabled golfers.  Some of the people have sought me out while others I have sought out to try and expand my knowledge.  There have been fellow PGA Professionals, physical therapists, and parents of children with special needs.  Through all of the conversations there is ample discussion about the instruction aspect of working with a golfer who has physical issues.  But what I have found to be the most compelling aspect of the conversations is that none of them focused on the instruction.

Any time you are dealing with a golf instruction program the general thought is the focus should be on the actual instruction.  In most cases this is correct thinking.  If you are not receiving proper instruction that will make you a better player then why are you working with that teacher, right?  Since the first day I started the program at Ranken Jordan I have held tight to one contention:  Any Golf Professional who is a decent teacher of the game can teach any type of player how to play this game.  The physics behind getting the ball airborne doesn't change just because a player is standing, sitting in a wheelchair, only has one arm, or has balance issues.  I have been told that I have had to adapt my teaching to work with the kids who have such a wide variety of physical and/or mental disabilities.  But what I do on a daily basis in my teaching, and what any good golf instructor does also, is adapt my teaching to each and every student I work with.  Everybody swings the club differently so we are constantly adapting our teaching to fit every student who comes to us to improve.

So if the the instruction component of this type of junior golf program is not the focal point of the conversations then what is?  Acceptance.  Inclusion.  Opening one's mind. These are the things that have been discussed as being the most important aspects of the type of program we have at Ranken Jordan.  At times the instruction is the least important part of running a successful junior golf program which includes children with physical limitations.  In many instances golf is simply the vehicle to show these kids that they can participate, interact, and compete with other kids.  Golf has a way of leveling the playing field like no other sport.  By introducing these kids to golf we are giving them a tool that can help them heal quicker, improve their quality of life, and teach them the game of a lifetime.  Cynics will say that golf itself can't heal a child's body.  Zakki Blatt and his mother Stephanie would both be the first people to jump up and disagree with you.  Read how Zakki says "golf saved my life" by clicking HERE and watch his video that aired during U.S. Open coverage on the Golf Channel by clicking HERE.

Golf can indeed provide healing qualities to people of all ages.  It can also give a sense of "normalcy" to kids and adults alike who may not have had that feeling all the time.  Many of the sports they play have adapted equipment or rules that they need to simply participate.  When we recently took Dakota to the golf course and let him get out and play a few holes the only specialized equipment he had was a single passenger cart.  Adapted golf clubs?  Nope.  Different rules?  Absolutely not.  He went out and played the game just as you or I would.  The only difference I saw was that he putted much better than me!  Not long ago as I was walking to my car following golf at Ranken Jordan I had a parent stop me to say "thank you" for giving her child the opportunity to play golf.  This parent said they never thought they would see their kid hit a golf ball.  But one of the things they appreciated the most was that they could go into any golf shop or store and buy the same clubs for their child that all the other kids were using.  This child had always had to use specialized equipment in anything they did.  This family liked the fact that they could get standard golf clubs for their child to use and said they all would be playing golf together in the future.

Creating new golfers and establishing a successful program like what we have at Ranken Jordan is really fairly simple.  You do not necessarily need fancy adapted equipment.  You do not need the latest in video technology to break down a swing, determine the spin rate, or launch angle.  What you need is an open mind.  You need to embrace the uniqueness of each individual who wants to learn to play golf.  As mentioned above this is no different that what PGA Professionals should be doing with each student they give a lesson to.  By opening up your mind, heart, and facility to wonderful kids like the approximately 1,400 kids I have seen in our program, you are not just growing the game of golf.  Learning the game is helping these kids heal.  It is helping them grow.  And like the PGA Tour's charity message says, it is showing them that "anything is possible."

No comments:

Post a Comment