"What did you do to him?"
"We haven't seen him in a mood like this in a long time!"
"I don't know what you've done but we need to talk."
Hearing these things following a recent junior golf clinic at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital caught me a little bit off guard. I am sure you can understand why! Those are not the types of questions and comments you want to have directed towards you when working with children. Apparently the incredibly intelligent, articulate response I came up with (I was dead silent) or the look of understanding on my face (my chin hit the floor) prompted the nurse to explain a bit more.
It seems that I slightly misconstrued the context of her questions. OK, maybe I completely and totally misunderstood everything. The only thing I had correct was that she was referencing a new junior golfer named Michael. Evidently when Michael went back and checked in with his nurse following golf he was absolutely ecstatic. All through the hour we spent introducing him to and teaching him how to play golf he was smiling, laughing, and talking. Apparently he had been a bit down as of late and was struggling with his therapy at times. He left no doubt how much he enjoyed hitting golf balls for the first time in his life!
Over the past 3 weeks, since he first held a golf club, Michael has been practicing regularly. He has been working on either his full swing or putting 2-3 days each week! After that initial introduction to the game and spending some time with him, I was completely shocked the next time I saw him. Michael was waiting for me in Warner's Corner with his therapist and was anxious to get started. To say he had improved is one of the biggest understatements I could make! There is nobody who would have believed that only 7 days prior was the first time he had swung a golf club. His setup was much improved, his swing stayed on plane, and his tempo was perfect. I could not believe what I was seeing! And then there was the smile that never left his face. That was simply icing on the cake.
Michael has quickly become a "regular" in the weekly golf clinics. He does not waste an opportunity to pick up a golf club and get in a little practice. Golf has been woven into his therapy plan so he is getting plenty of practice time! Those of you who are regular readers know I have several stories about the kids at Ranken Jordan which are my favorite stories to tell. Michael's story has quickly become one of my favorites. It is yet another shining example of golf being a physical, mental, and social healing tool. Every week he keeps getting better and seeing improvement, both with his health and with his golf. I look forward to seeing him each week, seeing his improvement, and having the opportunity to tell him what an inspiration he is.