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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Just A "Normal" Day of Golf

It has been a while since my last blog post and as I sat down at my computer to start writing a familiar thing happened.  Nothing.  Far too often when I attempt to start composing a post I stare at a blank screen as story after story about the kids at Ranken Jordan circles around in my mind.  Even with the number of posts I have written and the number of stories already told there are countless more stories waiting to escape my simple brain.  To try and kick-start the writing process I did a Google search for quotes relating to golf being the game of a lifetime.  Although not specific to golf, in the results a very appropriate picture appeared:

Yes, those who know me best will find it hard to believe that I used a quote somewhat related to golf that did not come from Carl Spackler or Ty Webb.  However when I saw this I thought it applied quite well to the golf program at Ranken Jordan.  Obviously having a golf program in a pediatric hospital for medically complex children there are a myriad of obstacles that the kids are faced with.  Of course there are doubters out there who do not believe that a program like this is possible.  Throughout the almost 4 years since the program started I certainly have made mistakes and I am sure I will make more in the future.  One thing that makes me very proud about the program is the hard work put in by the junior golfers and the enjoyment they get from the game.

That hard work and enjoyment was evident at our most recent clinic along with some of the obstacles.  In this particular clinic two of our most avid junior golfers were practicing at adjacent spots in Warner's Corner.  I spent the first half of our session working with an amazing young man named Mikey.  I do not believe any of our junior golfers enjoy their time playing and practicing more than Mikey does.  To say he is a huge sports fan is a gross understatement.  Want to know anything about the St. Louis Cardinals, Blues, Rams, or Mizzou Tigers?  Just ask him.  With his love of sports he always looks forward to "Golf Day" at Ranken Jordan.  On this particular day we were working with Mikey on his driver.  Every week our focus with Mikey is on his grip.  Once his left hand and fingers are relaxed enough to get a good grip, we place our hand over his to lightly hold his grip in place, and start hitting golf balls.  On this particular day he looked like he was getting ready for a tournament!  Driver after drive was sent sailing long and straight until the golf balls bounced off the windows.  There was no chance anybody was going to get the smile off his face anytime soon!

Mikey T. working on his putting stroke

The remainder of the clinic I spent with a young man who had joined our group for several holes during the annual Ranken Jordan golf tournament this past July.  If you want to see a junior golfer generate some ball speed off the driver watch him for a few minutes!  Moving between these two stations was a perfect example of how we as instructors need to be able to adapt quickly when working with the kids.  For the first part of the session I was going hand-over-hand with the student I was helping and focusing simply on the grip.  In the second half I was helping a junior golfer do a little bit better job with his weight transfer so he could hit the ball more consistently.  He picked up on what he needed to improve almost instantly and was quickly sending golf balls rocketing off the windows.

At Ranken Jordan the hard work that the junior golfers put in is in multiple areas.  All of them who come to the golf clinics enjoy the game, love to practice, and want to get better.  Quite often you will see them practicing in between clinics after they have convinced the therapists to get out the golf equipment.  But the bulk of their hard work (and most important hard work) comes in their therapy sessions.  This is one of the reasons that introducing the kids to golf has proved to be so beneficial to them.  Several times I have heard from the kids or their parents that they have noticed physical therapy improves their golf and golf makes them want to work harder in therapy.  After watching these two junior golfers during this clinic it showed once again how golf is a healing tool.  The physical improvements were evident and celebrated but the ear-to-ear smiles were what lit up Warner's Corner brighter than the sunshine could.

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