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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One Putt Is All It Takes

Golfers of all ages, abilities, and skill levels know the feeling of that one good shot that keeps you coming back.  No matter how much you play or practice, or how many lessons you take, everybody has a day when things just are not going their way.  And then comes that one shot that makes you say, "where has that been all day?!?"  If you are anything like me that shot typically does not appear until the 17th or 18th hole!  More often than not that one shot is a nice, high drive that flies down the fairway just like you had planned.  Other times it could be a chip shot that nestles up close to the hole for an easy par or might even drop in for a surprise birdie.  On occasion it might even be a putt that sends you home in a good mood.

A well-timed putt is what did the trick during a recent clinic at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital.  On this particular day we had a fairly large group of kids working on their swings and perfecting their putting strokes in Warner's Corner.  Many of the junior golfers had been to clinics before and had a pretty good grasp on what they wanted to work on.  But one young lady was joining us for the first time.  I talked to her for a few minutes with her telling me she had played golf before having to go into the hospital and really enjoyed putting.  After hearing that I grabbed the correct size putter for her and off we went to an open putting green.

It took her a few putts to get her wheelchair right where she wanted it to allow for the smoothest putting stroke.  I helped her a little bit with her alignment and length of her backstroke and off she went.  Putt after putt rolled towards the hole always staying just outside the cup.  She tried and tried but just could not get a putt to drop.  More putts followed with the same results.  She was having fun but I could still see a bit of frustration building with her.  We stopped to talk for a couple of minutes about those days when it seems like there is a lid on the hole.  During our conversation she mentioned that she might go play the Wii or do something else until time for her therapy.  But as she watched the other kids ripping drivers off the windows or hitting chip shots into the target nets she decided to hit some more putts.

The first two putts she hit after starting back somehow stopped just short.  The next putt she hit rolled right into the middle of the cup.  I started to see the formation of a little smile but she would not give in.  The following putt fell dead-center into the hole and there was no stopping the smile!  This was exactly what I was hoping to see from her.  The fun had returned, she made a couple of putts, and she was enjoying time with the other kids playing golf.  These are the moments that make this junior golf program so special for all of those involved.  Seeing the pure joy on the face of this young lady absolutely made my day.

Since starting the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan I have noticed a major change in my own golf game.  Gone are the childish temper fits and frustration after hitting a bad shot because each week I am reminded how insignificant it really is when I hook another drive into the trees.  One thing that has emerged when I am on the course is a complete lack of tolerance for those players who choose to whine about their bad shots.  Get over it and go hit your next shot.  The junior golfers in our program every week are a constant reminder of what is truly important.  The next time you go out to play a round of golf think about their positive attitudes and smiling faces that result from one made putt.  I am sure you will find that you play better, and those playing golf with you will likely enjoy your company much more, too!

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