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, January 3, 2014

Springtime in December

Last weekend at Ranken Jordan there was a camp similar to the ones held in the summer.  You may recall me writing about the camp in which we had a large group of kids and a great mix of patients, day treatment patients, and community participants.  Looking up and down the line of kids hitting golf balls you saw kids in wheelchairs, kids requiring help to stand, and able-bodied kids, all of whom were swinging away.  The two days we had golf during those summer camps were a wonderful example of how golf can be a completely inclusive sport.  Last Saturday's camp provided the same type of example.

An unseasonably warm December day actually allowed us to get the kids outside and enjoy some mid-winter sunshine.  Not only did we have a great turnout of kids, but there was a great involvement from the local golf community.  Oak Brook Golf Course's Mike Suhre, PGA, Ann Briar Golf Course's Kevin Schaeffer, PGA, and Metropolitan Golf Association Executive Director Curt Rohe all came out to lend a hand.  Walking up and down the line helping the kids, I saw nothing but smiles on the faces of everybody that sunny morning.  As always, those of us helping took away as much or more from that day than the kids!

While all of the kids had a great time, improved their golf swing, and left smiling, there were two kids who really stood out to me.  The first one, Dakota, I have talked about several times in the past.  He is the young man who we took to the golf course earlier this summer and has not stopped smiling since!  Last Saturday showed exactly how far his golf game has come since he stopped thinking the game is "stupid and boring" and picked up a club.  Anyone who has played golf knows that "click" you hear when you strike a golf ball just perfectly.  This past week Dakota heard that on virtually every shot he hit.  I was absolutely amazed at how consistently he hit the ball.  Shot after shot was sent high and straight across the field. Talking with Dakota after the golf clinic we both agreed that this was the best he has hit the ball since he started playing.

Dakota at The Quarry at Crystal Springs Golf Course
The second junior golfer who stood out to me was a young patient with limited use of one side of their body who took a few swings then walked away with a frown.  I went over and asked why I didn't see a smile.  The conversation went something like this:

Junior golfer:  "I stink at golf.  I can't do this.  My hand won't let me hold the club, my arm won't let me swing the club, and my leg makes it tough to stand up to the ball.  I just stink at golf."

Me:  "Why don't you give it one more try and let me watch you hit a few balls?  I'll help you and we will get you hitting the ball better than ever."

Junior golfer:  "OK, I guess I'll try one more time.  But I'm only hitting 3 balls.  I stink and don't want to do it."

With that the youngster picked up a club, went back to the pile of golf balls, and got ready to hit the 3 balls as promised.  I made a slight adjustment to the junior golfer's grip to allow the left hand to better hold the club, slightly modified the stance, and then it was time to swing away.  Ball #1 was sent flying through the air towards the target . . . and there was almost a smile.  Soon after ball #2 was airborne and had the same result . . . but with a little smile.  Then came ball #3 which wound up being the best shot yet . . . and got a huge smile!  I told our new golfer thank you for hitting the golf balls for me and how great the new golf swing looked.  The next thing I knew another ball was being teed up and sent flying.  After about 20 more swings it was time for a little break.  So much for only hitting 3 golf balls!  When the practice session was over I got a huge smile and was informed that this special junior golfer had decided, "I don't stink at golf."

I always enjoy the camps at Ranken Jordan as they allow for all of the participants to interact and simply be kids.  This is one of the great things golf is doing for them.  The game allows for everybody to interact equally and shows that they are all just kids.  Everybody uses the same equipment and hits from the same spot.  One of the best parts of days like this are watching the able-bodied kids look on in awe as Dakota launches shot after shot past their best drive!  But of course nothing is better than seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter from kids playing a game.

No comments:

Post a Comment