"Hard work pays off." This is a statement/quote/fact that everybody has heard for as long as they can remember. It applies to all facets of life be it work, relationships, sports, etc. Any one who has ever picked up a golf club completely understands how true it is as it relates to golf! The game is simultaneously immensely rewarding and ridiculously humbling. At some point during that first awkward day of swinging a golf club virtually every new player hits one on the sweet spot . . . and they are hooked. Unfortunately for the new golfers many of them think that after that one perfect shot they should hit everything that way. The next time out they quickly realize that will not be the case and soon learn about the hard work required prior to the pay off.
Some of the hardest workers I have encountered during my career as a PGA Professional are the kids at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital. Each and every week they look forward to "Golf Day" and can't wait for the clubs to be brought out. As I have mentioned many times on this blog, it is not an uncommon occurrence for the kids to ask the therapists to get the golf clubs out at other times during the week so they can practice! Golf has truly become an integral part of the healing process for many of these amazing medically complex children. One of the best parts of the junior golf program is when we get to introduce the game for the first time to a new patient at the hospital.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when a young man named Harley joined us for golf. Since this was his first time playing golf we started him off rolling a few putts. Harley is currently not strong enough to grip the putter and make a stroke by himself so we provided a bit of help. After he hit his first few putts a smile spread across his face. Before each putt the smile would be replaced by a look of sheer determination. We all knew it would not be long until putts were going in regularly! He kept working and working on his putting stroke. As we do with all the kids, we asked him frequently if he wanted a break. Harley's response was to sign "more, more!" Of course we obliged and kept helping him with his putting.
Even though he has only been playing golf a very short time, his hard work has certainly already paid off. Last week during our golf clinic Harley was once again back at it working on his putting. I typically bounce around from kid to kid and try to spend a few minutes with each of them. During one of my times with Harley I was fortunate enough to see his pay off. A quick tip to help his putting stroke led to one of the best reactions I have ever seen. After adjusting his grip to allow him to hold onto the putter a bit better Harley drained his first putt! His look of determination was replaced by one of complete and total joy! That first made putt opened up everything as more and more putts started falling with greater frequency. Seeing his reaction to each putt dropping into the hole kept a smile plastered on my face for days.
I have said it fairly often on this blog but I feel it bears repeating. There is nothing more enjoyable than helping put a smile on the face of a child. The amount of enjoyment I get from it increases exponentially when that child is in a pediatric hospital. Playing, smiling, and laughing are helping these incredible kids heal. I am beyond thrilled that golf is a small part of that. Watching their hard work, practice, and dedication from week to week is beyond inspirational. The kids tell me how much they look forward to the following week and "Golf Day." What they may not realize is that I look forward to it at least as much as they do!