Recently I logged into my e-mail account and found a new monthly newsletter for Titleist golf club fitters. While reading through it I started thinking about some of the different factors we look at when fitting golfers for new clubs. For instance, to maximize distance with the driver, golfers want to optimize their launch angle and spin rate. This may sound like Greek to some of you, but boiled down it simply means to hit the ball on the best trajectory with the ideal amount of backspin to carry the golf ball the farthest distance in the air. Hopefully whatever that maximum distance is finishes up in the fairway! Golfers are always looking for ways to hit the ball farther and straighter and getting the optimum results on these two numbers can do both for a player. However, as we saw a few weeks ago at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, optimizing launch angle can also lead to a lot of fun!
Anyone who was around for one of our recent clinics would have noticed it was not exactly a typical day of golf. When the kids came to Warner's Corner they saw blank canvases lined up in front of a LOT of plastic which covering as much as possible. The reason for all of this is that the annual Inspiration Gallery was just around the corner and the kids were creating artwork to be sold at a local gallery. Naturally the therapists came up with a great idea and decided we needed to let the kids create artwork during golf! As the golf balls were covered in paint the kids grabbed their golf clubs and started "painting." Our normal golf clinics last about an hour but the kids were having so much fun with this one that we did not start cleaning up for well over two hours! While spending time with each of our junior golfers that day I was thinking a lot about club fitting and changing the launch angle for each kid.
Usually when we look at changing the launch angle for the kids it is for the normal reason of improving the distance they hit the golf ball. However on this particular day the reason was completely different. Changing the launch angle meant the ball would hit a canvas in a different way and make a bigger splatter of paint! If you think hitting a golf ball high and far will put a smile on the face of a child, wait until you see that smile after they hit a golf ball and paint goes everywhere! During any of the club fitting seminars I have attended I never thought I would put what I learned to use by figuring out how to launch the golf ball to make the biggest splatter of paint possible. However I am sure that each of the instructors of those seminars would be happy to know that the knowledge they shared was being put to use in this exciting way.
Those of you who have been regular readers of this blog (and that number is very small) will notice something with this post that is similar to almost all of the others. What we do with the kids at Ranken Jordan revolves around them having fun. Golf is just a way that we can do that. I am fortunate that I am allowed to spend as much time as I do with the kids at Ranken Jordan sharing the great game of golf with them. To see the smiles on their faces that are created by using a funny looking stick to hit a ball is an indescribable feeling. My Mother's favorite song was "Thank God For Kids" by the Oak Ridge Boys. Every week for over 5 1/2 years, as I walk out to my car after golf recalling the smiles, I think of the chorus from that song:
Thank God for kids, there's magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile.
Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to Heaven is a child?