It has been over a month since my last blog post. However that does not mean that golf with the kids at Ranken Jordan has slowed down. It is just the opposite, in fact. Since the middle of this past winter the kids have been getting to play and practice two times a week! Being able to add another "Golf Day" to the schedule is thanks to the generosity and caring nature of some wonderful people who have been volunteering their time to help the kids. The junior golf program at Ranken Jordan has been successful because of these people. Without the help and support of volunteers and the Gateway PGA Section we would not have nearly as many success stories as we do.
One of those stories came not too long ago on one of the few days we were able to go outside with the kids. St. Louis had the wettest May in history and June is not off to a much better start. Because of all the rain we have had it has been rare that we could take the kids outside. However one day recently we had a break in the clouds and were able to get out to enjoy the sunshine. The kids love playing golf when we are inside, but their excitement gets ratcheted up several notches when we go outside. This was obvious two weeks ago when we wound up having to intermingle golf and therapy.
Each summer Ranken Jordan has multiple summer camps. Golf is one of the many activities that is always included in these camps. At one of the camps last summer we introduced golf to a young lady named Addie. She was instantly addicted to the game and did not want to put the club down. Fast forward to two weeks ago and Addie was outside with us at Ranken Jordan swinging away. I could not get the golf balls teed up fast enough for her to hit! At one point she even set two golf balls side by side on the mat . . . and then proceeded to hit both of them perfectly! While she was practicing Addie looked at the 3 of us who were there helping and watching and told us "I love golf. I could do this all day!"
The only problem with her hitting golf balls all day was she had therapy right after golf was over. A solution for that small issue was quickly discovered. Addie would hit a few shots and then do one of her exercises. When she finished that exercise she would go right back to hitting golf balls until it was time for another exercise. This continued on until she finished her therapy session. When everything was finished she had been hitting golf balls for an hour and a half! That entire time she had a smile on her face and had a contagious level of enthusiasm. There was not one person around during that time who was not enjoying watching Addie hit golf ball after golf ball. It is days like that when I enjoy helping the kids far more than if I was playing or practicing myself. To see the look of pure joy and excitement from any of the kids at Ranken Jordan is absolutely priceless.
Hitting a good golf shot or putting up a career low round is always fun. However I get just as much pleasure out of hearing stories from my students about their improvement. And when that improvement and excitement is coming from the kids there just is not anything better. The volunteers and golf professionals who come out every week to help feel the exact same way. The smiles on the faces of the kids keep everybody coming back. As I said earlier, the golf program has had so much success because of the help and support from the volunteers, golf professionals, and our Section. Knowing that golf has helped, and continues to help, thousands of kids makes me smile. I can not wait to get back there next Wednesday, or as it is known around Ranken Jordan, "Golf Day."