According to Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby, "kids say the darndest things." Spend enough time around kids and it is anybody's guess what you may hear. Many times the comments they make will have everybody around them laughing uncontrollably. Other times the sweetness and sincerity in their words can bring tears to your eyes. And occasionally you will hear them say something that brings a huge smile to your face, leaves you speechless, and provides instant validation for what you are doing.
Over the 3 1/2 years we have been conducting junior golf clinics at Ranken Jordan we have had over 2,000 kids "say some of the darndest things." One of these instances occurred recently with a new junior golfer. As is often the case, one of the first things that happened after this young man came to Ranken Jordan was his introduction to the game of golf. Like many of the kids this was the first time he had ever held a golf club. Due to the walker he currently uses the length of his backswing was limited. That did not stop him from boldly stating that "I am going to hit it farther than my daddy!" We went to work on his swing and quickly had him making consistent contact. His shots started flying higher, straighter, and farther. The smile on his face continued to grow bigger with each good shot he hit. Soon, though, fatigue started to set in and he decided to call it a day. Before leaving to go back inside he assured me he would practice and be back next week to learn more!
Fast forward a week and "Golf Day" at Ranken Jordan arrived. True to his word, he was back and I quickly saw that he had been practicing. The huge smile was still there and his swing was noticeably improved. We hit shots for a while working on some minor mechanical issues here and there. When he got tired this week he decided he wanted to learn to putt instead of stopping for the day. He walked over to a putting green and started rolling a few putts. With only a couple small changes to his stroke he began putting much better. A few short minutes later and he made 3 putts in a row! As soon as the third putt fell into the hole he raised both arms in the air and yelled "I LOVE GOLF" loud enough for everybody in a 5 mile radius to hear him!! Hearing that left me completely speechless and with an ear-to-ear smile.
Seeing the pure joy and excitement on his face and hearing the same in his voice gave me yet another reminder of why I do what I do at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital. Teaching these kids how they can play golf is truly a privilege and something I look forward to every week. When we get the reaction described in the story above it quickly illustrates how important golf is to these kids and makes me want to do even more for them. Reactions like this cannot happen often enough. The mother of one of our junior golfers once commented that our junior golf program "is magic." From my point of view the truly magical part is seeing what golf can do for these great kids. While our new junior golfer keeps yelling "I LOVE GOLF" I'll keep asking "is it Golf Day yet?"