"Making a positive change in the life of a child is one of the most significant things you can do." --Arnold Palmer
Year in and year out my favorite week is Masters Week. During that week I watch "Live From the Masters" every morning on the Golf Channel. When the tournament starts I will watch the regular broadcast, then watch the replay, and after that I will watch it again since I DVR all 4 rounds. I love the Masters and Augusta National. However this year I think this particular week carries more importance --- this week is the first Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill since Mr. Palmer's passing last September. When I see the quote that is at the top of this post I cannot help but think that Mr. Palmer and Mrs. Mary Ranken Jordan would have had some wonderful conversations!
On a fairly regular basis I am asked why I started the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan. The simple, and most accurate answer, is that starting it was simply the right thing to do. I wanted to provide an opportunity for the kids at Ranken Jordan to simply be kids, to laugh, to smile, and to get better while learning to play the game of a lifetime. It allows them to have an activity they can take home with them and enjoy with their siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends. Golf provides the kids at Ranken Jordan with a fun way to heal physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. The game has provided far more benefits than I could have ever dreamed . . . and it has done the same for the kids!
In the past few days this question was once again asked and with the arrival of this week it started me thinking (which is difficult for me to do at times). The influences that steered me to even considering starting a junior golf program like this were significant reasons as to why I started it. During more than three decades in education and coaching multiple high school sports, my parents had a significant impact in the lives of thousands of kids. Growing up watching their tireless efforts certainly led me towards Ranken Jordan. Hopefully my mother looks down every Wednesday and has a huge smile on her face. Earlier today, when I saw a new MasterCard commercial, it suddenly dawned on me (I told you thinking could be challenging for me) that someone I have always admired, respected, and looked up to, also pointed me towards 11365 Dorsett Road. Those who watch the golf tournament this week will surely see the commercial and hear, "Arnie would."
Throughout this week there will undoubtedly be stories and memories about the far-reaching impact that Mr. Palmer has had in golf and the world in general. From William McGirt's story about why he signs his autograph legibly to the amazing work being done at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, stories about Mr. Palmer will be in abundance. He gave so much to the game and through the game was able to give so much to others. I still remember the impact he made on a 10 year old who asked him for an autograph when he put his arm around that kid's shoulders and took him onto the practice putting green at the Players Championship. While you watch the golf tournament this week, remember Mr. Palmer and all the great things he stood for. While we can't play golf like him, we can all strive to be more like him. Find a way you can make a positive change in the life of a child and give them a thumbs up. Arnie would.