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Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Training" Aids Galore

Go to any golf school and you will find a wide array of training aids to help improve your golf game.  You may see devices to keep you on plane, others that work on tempo, computer simulators & swing analyzers, impact bags, molded grips, alignment guides, putting guides, mirrors, etc.  This list is never ending and can go on and on.  Once you leave the practice area you can move to the fitness center and find even more aids that will help improve your "golf specific" muscles, flexibility, and balance.  After you fix your swing on the range and improve your strength, flexibility, and balance in the gym, you can pick up the books that work on the mental side of the game.  Whatever particular facet of the game you feel you need to work on there is some type of training aid there to help you.

Training aids are certainly a valuable tool that every golf professional has undoubtedly utilized at one point or another during a golf lesson.  Used properly they can enhance what almost every golfer gets out of their lesson time.  Despite their importance, I have yet to use any of these things in the most important golf instruction I do every week.  Instead the "training" aids we see during our golf clinics at Ranken Jordan include wheelchairs, hospital beds, casts, pulse-ox machines, ventilators, braces, gait belts, walkers, canes, crutches, and more.  Sometimes our junior golfers need only one or two of these items to allow them to play golf.  Other times they need 3, 4, 5, or more of these all too important "training" aids.  While these may not be traditional "training" aids, they are even more significant to the learning process for these junior golfers.

Without the variety of medical equipment that we see every week many of the kids would not have the opportunity to learn how to play golf.  They are vital not just to their recovery from a variety of medically complex issues, but also to their ability to get out, play, and be a kid.  In talking with others outside the hospital about this junior golf program, many times I hear "these kids can't play golf."  My reply to them is always the same:  "Of course they can!!"  When I see a new kid come to join us for golf and he happens to be in his hospital bed or she is in a wheelchair, my first thought is only "how can we get them playing golf?"  All of us who work week in and week out with the kids essentially ignore the neck braces, casts, wheelchairs, beds, etc.  To us nothing will keep these kids from hitting golf balls or rolling a few putts.

Those folks who work with kids in pediatric hospitals, whether they are medical professionals or volunteers, understand what is important as it relates to sports.  It does not matter how hard they throw a baseball, how many baskets they can make, or how far they can hit a golf ball.  All that matters is that they do it, enjoy it, and want to do it again next time.  Our golf program is all about putting a smile on the faces of the kids and allowing them to have fun.  We show them they can enjoy the game of a lifetime while they are in the hospital and also after they go home.  Golf is helping to improve their lives.  It is providing hope and showing them possibilities they may never have known existed for them.  One day soon thousands of kids every year will see these possibilities and begin learning a game that can take them from surviving to thriving.

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