It is that time of year again when everybody starts rushing around frantically trying to find the perfect present for each person on their holiday shopping list. Go anywhere near a shopping mall and you are certain to hear the joyous sounds of the season: car horns blaring, tires screeching, and the angry yelling of words not suitable for this blog. Occasionally you will see a different response when someone steals a parking spot or takes the last hot item off the shelf as a shopper will offer a one-finger salute to the other shopper proving just how much they care about the other person. Every year many people promise themselves that they will avoid these situations, not deal with the crowds the following year, and will get their shopping done early. the next thing they know Thanksgiving is here and they have yet to begin even thinking about who will get what gift.
Even though my mind is constantly in motion trying to come up with ways to improve the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan, it really kicks into another gear (no comments from the peanut gallery, please) during the holiday season. Given that the average length of stay at Ranken Jordan is approximately 42 days we have our "regular" junior golfers who always make it for golf every Wednesday morning. During the winter months we have even added an additional day each week and these "regulars" happily make it to the lesson tee on Saturday mornings as well. In spending time with the kids on multiple days every week it becomes very clear that many of the kids would like to continue playing golf when the leave the hospital and go home. Through our golf program they have been introduced to and shown a sport that they can play and enjoy while at the same time benefit therapeutically. The question becomes how do we make it possible for the kids to keep playing golf when they go home?
One thing that golf professionals are good at doing is networking amongst our peers. Our advice is constantly sought from members or regular players about where they should go on their next golf trip or what would be a good course to play on a business trip. It always helps when we can pick up the phone and call a fellow PGA Professional and make planning a bit easier for the golfer asking our advice. This is also a way that I keep our junior golfers playing when they leave the hospital. Those who are interested in continuing to develop their games are put in touch with a local PGA Professional who will gladly provide instruction and help the junior golfer to the best of their ability. However we also have some kids who will have great difficulty getting to a local golf course to continue playing. How do we keep a club in their hands and a smile on their face after they go home? Many of the kids will go home with a putter, indoor putting green, and golf balls, so they can at least work on their putting stroke anytime they want to. During this holiday season do you want to give a gift that is guaranteed to not be returned and accepted with an ear-to-ear smile? It can certainly happen. Use the e-mail address at the top of the page to contact me and I will tell you how you can do just that.
While I am always grateful beyond words to be able to teach golf to the kids at Ranken Jordan on a weekly basis, it becomes even more special at this time of year. Having the opportunity to put a smile on their face during the holiday season is a very special feeling. Throughout the year I will occasionally get e-mails or text messages from our junior golfers after they go home saying "thank you" or letting me know how they are doing with golf. Oftentimes as I read their words or watch the thank you video that has been texted to me I have to close the door to my office until the tears dry up. It is truly amazing what can be done with a stick, a ball, and a cup. As I mentioned above, should you want to learn more about how you can help provide so much happiness to our junior golfers, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Trust me when I tell you there is no greater feeling than helping a child achieve that level of pure joy that we see so often in our junior golf program. To quote my late mother's favorite song, "Thank God for Kids."