This morning before leaving to go to Ranken Jordan for our weekly golf clinic I wrote a Tweet that said, "Every week this is my favorite day to play golf . . . Golf Day at Ranken Jordan with the kids!" Little did I know at the time just how true that statement would be this week. Without a doubt, each week the highlight for me is getting to spend time with the kids, teach them a few things about golf, and put a smile on their faces. Just like at any golf course we have our regulars who refuse to miss golf and we almost always have a new kid or two. This week was no exception as we welcomed a new girl who had never touched a golf club in her life. That was about to change.
As we were gathering outside on an atypically cool summer day in St. Louis, one of the therapists brought out a young lady who had been recently admitted to Ranken Jordan. She is in the early stages of her rehabilitation so she came to golf in her wheelchair. While I talked to her I learned that she had never picked up a golf club nor had she ever given any thought to learning how to play golf. While she watched three of the boys, two in wheelchairs and one standing, rip driver after driver she decided she would like to try. I got the right length club for her, grabbed some golf balls, and we set to work teaching her the basics of swinging from her wheelchair.
There was some initial hesitation and after a few tentative swings she asked me for more help in hitting those first few shots. We did hand-over-hand for a few to let her really get the feel of making a golf swing. A few solid shots was all it took for a smile to cover her face. I stepped back and let her start hitting by herself and away she went! However, after only a few more swings she stopped and dropped her golf club on the ground. I thought something may be wrong until she looked up at me and said, "I want to stand up and hit golf balls!"
We got the OK from one of the therapists and very soon there was a walker there for her to use for balance while she hit. A couple of swings in the walker was all it took for her to realize she didn't need or want it, either! We moved it out of the way, adjusted her grip just slightly, and the next thing you know ball after ball was being hit high, straight, and far! The more golf balls she hit the bigger her smile became. She even looked at me at one point and said she was glad she came out to learn how to play golf! I am sure we will see her back next week and am quite certain the therapists will be getting the golf clubs out for her before then.
For many of the kids at Ranken Jordan, golf has become an important part of their weekly activities and lives. It gives them something to look forward to each week. The game has also been implemented into the rehab program for many of the kids. While they are playing they are healing at the same time. Seeing the role the golf program plays in the physical and mental improvements in the kids is a big part of why I go to the hospital at least once every week. And then when something like this happens, let's just say you couldn't keep me away from there!