UK HealthCare

Tee-rrific: KCH patients, PGA golfers swing into fun at annual Mini Pro-Am

Pro golfers in the ISCO Championship visited patients at KCH for the annual Mini Pro-Am. Carter Skaggs | UK Photo
Nine holes of miniature golf wound through the floors of KCH. Each with a different theme — including Star Wars. Carter Skaggs | UK Photo
Everett worked through the course with his mom and brother in tow and his style of golf brought plenty of smiles to the pros. Carter Skaggs | UK Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 10, 2024) — The ball is placed. A swing. A hole-almost-in-one. The crowd at each hole applauds for every child making their rounds in the Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) Mini Pro-Am.

After a few strokes with the mini putter, as well as a literal helping hand, Everett sinks the shot. He plays through the Star Wars and Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed holes with a lot of energy and a smile on his face.

Maybe if this was a normal golf course, tensions would be high. But at the annual KCH Mini Pro-AM, pro golfers are smiling just as much as the kids. Josh Teater offers encouragement and a helpful tip (if he can get advice in before a swing). Nearby, Alex Goff lets the young golfers play the course however they choose — “it’s a free-for-all on hole two.” Nine holes of miniature golf wind their way through the floors of KCH.

Since 2018, and in conjunction with the ISCO Championship — formerly the Barbasol PGA Championship — this event has always been a welcome distraction for patients and their families. For a few hours, no one is talking about treatments or needles, tests or procedures. At the KCH Mini Pro-Am, there are no rules, every shot is allowed and every child is a champion. 

It’s not just the kids who are here to putt their cares away — it’s also the professional golfers who have come from all over the world to Nicholasville’s Keene Trace Golf Club to compete in the ISCO Championship. Teater and Goff have plenty of ties to Lexington. Both are more than happy to put the tournament out of their minds for a little bit and spend time helping the kids unwind. 

“To get away from golf and give back to these kids who’ve been dealt a rough hand and let them enjoy a little time in the game that we love is really special,” said Teater, a Kentucky native who lives in Lexington. 

“It’s cool to be able to give back to this community that I’ve learned to really love,” said Goff, who was a member of the UK Men’s Golf Team. “To be around these kids and see the smiles on their faces — it really puts golf into perspective. You understand there are bigger things to life.”

Pint-sized putters, assisted by volunteer “caddies,” tested their skills on a nine-hole course spread throughout KCH. Cheering them along were their families, KCH staff, PGA golfers, caddies, UK coaches, student-athletes and even Scratch. 

“This event is a highlight at KCH — our staff looks forward to it every year,” said Scottie B. Day, M.D., physician-in-chief at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “Some of the best golfers in the world are here, putting with our patients and helping them feel like normal kids for just a few hours. We’re honored to have them here, and to have the continued support of the PGA and Caddie127.” 

Kentucky Children's Hospital is one of the benefiting charities of the ISCO Championship being held July 11-14 at Keene Trace in Nicholasville. The tournament will broadcast live each day on Golf Channel and is one of the regular-season tournaments before the FedEx Cup Playoffs. PGA Tour events have generated more than $2.65 billion for charity. Since 2018, the tournament and its charitable arm Caddie127 have donated more than $445,000 to KCH. 

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