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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!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spreading the Word

Another year is drawing to a close and this is always the time for year end reviews and reflections.  The golf program at Ranken Jordan is closing in on 3 years old and it doesn't seem a day goes by when I don't look back on that time.  One of the things things that has made me the happiest this year (aside from all the smiles and great stories from the kids) is the evolution of the questions I have received from people not associated with the hospital.

Early on in our program questions typically consisted of "Why?"  We would also hear "How do you get the kids in wheelchairs (or hospital beds) hitting golf balls?"  Now many people are starting to "get" it and understand the significant role golf plays in the lives of these great kids.  This year, more often than not, the question I have received the most is about the various media stories on our golf program.  Since I have heard that question so often this year I will keep this post short and provide links to everything.  Please feel free to click and read or watch at your convenience.  The best part of all the articles and television stories is the spotlight they shine on the kids and the hospital.  Every time the golf program is discussed in any type of media coverage the focus goes to the kids and the hospital.  There is also a link to Ranken Jordan's January 18 Crystal Ball Gala at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton, MO.  Those who can should definitely attend!

Mary Ranken Jordan Society Service to Children Award Video

Golf Channel article by Al Tays

Joe Strauss article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KSDK-TV 5 story about Scott Simpson's visit

KSDK-TV 5 story by Kay Quinn

VuGolf story with Dustin Ashby part 1

VuGolf story with Dustin Ashby part 2

2014 Ranken Jordan Crystal Ball Gala

I certainly hope everyone had a happy holiday season and best wishes for a healthy New Year! Please keep the e-mails, phone calls, text messages, and tweets coming with any comments, questions, and feedback about the junior golf program and/or Ranken Jordan.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Laughing & Living

Winter is firmly entrenched in many parts of the country and the holidays are upon us.  More freezing rain and snow is imminent which means no golf will be played for some time.  However the winter weather will not slow down the kids at Ranken Jordan from playing golf every week.  I have regularly talked about how much fun the kids have with golf and how they will not let much get in the way of them playing this great game.  Even doctors and nurses sometimes have to wait until 1 more putt drops before the kids will put down the clubs!

It was about this time last year that one of my fondest memories from our junior golf program occurred.  Last year we had a young man named A.J. who fell in love with golf the first time we put a club in his hands.  During that first introduction to golf, we asked A.J. what he wanted to accomplish with the game.  His reply was "I want to learn how to walk again."  Fast forward a few weeks and A.J. gave all of us who were there one of the greatest Christmas presents imaginable.  He came to the golf clinic in his wheelchair, grabbed a putter, stood up, walked to the putting green, and rolled a few putts.  As you can imagine there were not many dry eyes.  Thankfully Joe Strauss from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was there to write an article about the golf program.  He easily tells the story in a much more eloquent manner than I ever could.  You can read his article by clicking HERE.

Stories like this, miraculous as they are, are not an uncommon occurrence at Ranken Jordan.  The staff there has figured out one thing:  kids heal better and faster when they are having fun.  There are not many pediatric healing facilities where you walk in and see the patients playing air hockey, ping pong, basketball, or golf.  Often times we will have people come over while we are doing the golf clinic to return golf balls they have found in some far corner of the hospital.  The kids do not spend any more time than necessary in their rooms.  They are up and moving around getting back to living while they are healing.

One other thing that is common at Ranken Jordan is laughter.  There certainly is not a much sweeter sound than a child's laugh.  Hearing that makes it obvious that the kids are getting better while they are having fun.  We certainly have our share of laughs while we are playing golf!  That joyful noise always reminds me of a line from "Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, when he sings "If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."  That laughter is extra special during the holiday season and has definitely kept me from going insane . . . sort of.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Improving Lives One Swing At A Time

As I sit here typing this post I look out the window and see snow coming down on top of the snow and ice the St. Louis area received in the past couple of days.  With this type of weather some may think that it would be difficult to be excited about the game of golf.  After all, unless I come up with an excuse to go south to warmer weather I won't be playing golf anytime soon!  It certainly is not uncommon to lose a bit of passion and desire for the game knowing that consistent warm weather in this region is a few months away.

The winter months are really the ideal time for golfers to recharge their batteries and do the little things that can pay huge dividends when the next golf season arrives.  For some this could be getting into better physical condition, reading a book by Dr. Bob Rotella to improve their mental approach to golf, or just enjoy some down time after a long season of hard work.  Others may enjoy doing what I am doing right now and watch whatever PGA Tour event is on to see some beautiful golf courses, sunshine, and warm(er) weather.  One thing I do every week that keeps my passion and excitement for this game at a high level is go to Ranken Jordan and work with the kids in that incredible pediatric hospital.

Golf can and does represent a lot of things to the kids in the hospital.  It certainly gives them a fun activity to do while they are in the hospital and provides numerous physical therapy benefits.  They see social and emotional improvements by interacting with their peers through sport.  The kids see possibility and hope from being involved with and learning a game that they can continue to play when they leave the hospital and go home.  And one of the things golf will do for these kids is exactly what I was reminded of recently:  it gives them a reason to smile and look forward to the day.

As I walked into the hospital a few short days ago the mother of one of the kids in our golf program stopped me and told me that her child hasn't been as happy as usual the past couple of days.  However that all changed when she told him that particular day was "golf day."  Suddenly the smile that everybody knows and loves lit up his face and he wanted out of bed as fast as possible.  This game we all love took a couple of bad days and instantly turned things around.  Never mind that weather conditions dictated we stay inside and bang drivers off the windows (how many pediatric hospitals do you see golf balls bouncing all over the place every week?).  Just being able to get a golf club in his hands and make some swings had this young man happy once again.

Sometimes people will ask why I spend so much time at the hospital working with the kids.  My answer always starts by telling them that I don't spend as much time there as I should.  But the reason why I spend the time I do is a story like the one I just related.  By showing up and bringing the game of golf to the kids, their lives are improved.  Some of them will continue to play the game of a lifetime when the leave.  Others will never pick up a club after going home.  But all of them have fun, laugh, and smile while they are in the hospital playing golf.  For those who have never spent time in a pediatric hospital and done something to put a smile on the face of a child I can tell you that nothing compares to seeing that reaction.  Golf has done a lot of things for me during my lifetime but the best thing the game has done is allowed me to bring a bit of joy to the lives of some very special kids.