My name is Sue Delaney and I am the PGA Head Golf Professional at Basking Ridge Country Club. My daughter, Jennifer, just finished up her third year of college at Towson University where she is an education major, minoring in deaf studies. Jennifer has been learning American Sign Language since her sophomore year of high school and would like to someday work with deaf children. Jennifer has been helping out with camps and clinics and has become a good player in her own right.
Jennifer and I had given a lot of thought as to how to combine our two passions; that of working with the Deaf Community using sign language, and our passion for golf. While a lot of golf is learned visually and kinesthetically, the combination of our golf knowledge and Jennifer's sign language abilities would allow us to offer a fun and informative opportunity into learning the game of golf. Thus, a golf clinic for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing was born.
Governor Livingston High School’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program was not only very receptive to the idea, but turned out to be the perfect fit for Jennifer and I to share our love for golf. Twelve students came to learn the objectives of the game and the fundamentals of putting, chipping and the full swing. Having been around my teaching for so long, Jennifer knew what and how I was going to present each facet of the material. Jennifer rehearsed her signing and I learned to pause in the right places. We began with welcoming the students to the club. I knew what we were doing was important, but I was surprised to find myself choking back tears as I tried to explain how much bringing golf to them meant to us.
We gathered into a big group while Jenn signed and then divided up so the students could try it individually. The students’ reactions were awesome! We taught them putting first and the students seem to hang on every word Jennifer signed. Chipping was next on the agenda and again the students watched with enthusiasm. Eventually we made our way to the driving range where I began to use the large hoop to show them how the shape of the swing was a circle. Each student then got to step inside the hoop and give it a try. I was able to help them kinesthetically feel and see the swing.
As Jennifer and I split up to help each student, the teachers and interpreters who were part of the group seemed to know exactly when to jump in and help me explain what was left to the verbal part of the communication. By the end of the clinic big smiles and lots of high fives were given as all twelve students were hitting the ball in the air and having a blast!
One of the interpreters mentioned how nice it was to see their students having fun. It seemed that Jennifer and I were able to bridge the gap between the Deaf world and the Hearing world. For me, the experience was extremely gratifying, not only was I able to bring golf to those who might never have had the chance to enjoy it, but I got to share it with someone whom I admire and cherish…my daughter Jennifer. In the future, we hope to keep our connection with the Deaf Community strong.