THIS IS ONE OF THE FIVE AWARD-WINNING PLAYER DEVELOPMENT BEST PRACTICES
Reprinted with permission from PGA Magazine
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Kevin Corn, the 2013 Gateway PGA Section Youth Player Development Award winner, is the PGA head professional at Innsbrook (Missouri) Resort.
Five years ago, I saw an article in PGA Magazineem> about how some PGA Professionals had brought golf into a traditional hospital setting to help pass the time for patients. Loving the idea, I realized that we had an amazing opportunity to do that here with children, since our area has some of the best pediatric hospitals in the U.S. So I sat down with some of my members who are doctors and they immediately recommended Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital as a perfect match. Now, almost five years later, my team and I come into the hospital each week and help some amazing kids forget about what they are going through while at the same time receiving therapeutic benefits. We do this 52 weeks a year, for 60-90 minutes each week, using donated equipment (the donations have come from the Gateway PGA REACH and U.S. Kids Golf) and Almost Golf Balls. We hold the sessions either in an indoor playground area in the hospital or in an outdoor courtyard, making sure we make every accommodation possible to make it the most comfortable and enjoyable process possible no matter the ailment or piece of medical equipment the patient must still wear. As golf has been integrated into the actual therapy program for a lot of the kids, we always have medical personnel with us at all times in case someone needs care or needs treatment on "Golf Day."
The kids range in age from 4-21, with the number participating per clinic ranging from five all the way up to 40. Depending on the size of the session, anywhere from three to six volunteers from the Gateway PGA Section (who can receive one MSR credit per hour) help out and instruct. We've helped over 2,200 kids at this point, with about 100 expressing interest in continuing with golf. I hear all the time from past patients about how their games are. If they are close to the St. Louis area, oftentimes I will help them; for those who come from other parts of the country, I will pair them up with a PGA Professional near their home. We've also seen an uptick in the patients' parents who have taken up the game. We have had several people hear about our story and come play at the club as a thank you, which shows that the Ranken Jordan story is getting out in the community, acting as indirect advertising for us. We also offer all the patients complimentary golf after 3 p.m., seven days a week with a paying adult. Needless to say the program is about much more than financial impacts, helping these kids (and their families) forget about what they're going through and letting them just be kids, while elevating both our stature as a club and section and golf's place as a game that can truly make a difference. It really is all about the smiles.