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Lansing teen chosen as Shriners ambassador at upcoming PGA Tour

Griffin Polley (Photo provided)

Griffin Polley to serve as pros’ standard bearer in Las Vegas

by Carrie Steinweg

CHICAGO, Ill. (August 4, 2019) – Griffin Polley, 17, has faced a number of medical challenges throughout his life, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a member of TF South’s golf team. Last year after an injury, his doctors at Shriners Hospital in Chicago had to give him special permission to play in a boot that season. And after that visit, representatives from the hospital got in touch to see if Griffin would be interested in being part of an upcoming PGA (Professional Golfers Association) Tour event.

Griffin Polley got doctors’ permission to play golf in a boot last season. (Photo provided)
Polley was chosen as one of 22 patient ambassadors nationwide to represent the hospital network at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, an official PGA Tour event in Las Vegas this October. Griffin will serve as a standard bearer throughout the weekend, carrying the scores of professional golfers as they compete in the tournament. This rare opportunity will give him a close-up look at the professional world of a sport he plays—and a chance to share how his life has been changed by his care at Shriners Hospital.

Early challenges

Born two months premature and weighing less than 4 pounds, Polley had a condition known as EA/TEF (esophageal atresia and tracheal esophageal fistula). When he was 3 days old, he underwent surgery to detach his esophagus from his trachea and reattach it to its correct position. Another surgery followed at 5 weeks old.

When he was 2, Polley was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy.

At age 4, while attending Lester Crawl Preschool, a physical therapist referred his family to Shriners Hospital in Chicago for orthopaedic care from the hospital’s multidisciplinary cerebral palsy team. His care there has included many pairs of braces to help support his legs while walking, several rounds of botox to relax muscles in both his upper and lower legs, and casts on both legs to stretch his leg muscles and improve his gait pattern.

Representing Shriners

“As a Standard Bearer ambassador, Griffin is representing the Chicago hospital. He will be a standard bearer during the third and fourth rounds of tournament, interacting with PGA Tour professionals and visible during the international telecast for six hours of live viewing reaching over 900 million homes and all over social media,” said Mashayla Colwell, Director of Marketing and Communications for Shriners Hospitals. “Because Griffin golfs on his high school golf team, he was chosen to also play in the Pro-Am tournament. He will get the opportunity to hit off a par-3 hole with the top 40 PGA Tour professionals in the Las Vegas Open tournament field the day before tournament play begins. It is an amazing experience for these kids.”

Because Griffin golfs on the TF South golf team, he was chosen to play in the Pro-Am tournament. (Photo provided)

According to his mother, Jennifer Polley, Griffin got interested in golfing through his grandfather, Karl Koch. “His first experience was riding in the golf cart with his grandpa. He did not start actually playing golf until summer before his freshman year at TF South,” she said.

Griffin’s mother said that having him treated at Shriners Hospital has been a great experience for her family. “They have always been extremely helpful and very thorough with his care,” she said. “The Shriners have always helped with the cost of all of these procedures…. The hospital and entire staff are easy to work with and always very accommodating. I feel very lucky to have a Shriners Kid and am very grateful for all the help they have given us. I am excited and honored that Griffin will be representing the Chicago hospital at the PGA events.”

Meeting new people

Griffin said, “I am excited to represent the Chicago Shriners Hospital at both events,” but he also admitted, “I haven’t really done anything this big with golf, so I’m a little nervous.”

“I enjoy golf and it’s a great way to meet new people,” said Griffin. That it is. The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open takes place the first week of October and as an ambassador he’ll have a chance to meet and walk along side some of the greats of the game.

To contribute to Griffin’s trip, donations can be made online at:

  • donate.lovetotherescue.org
Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg is a freelance writer, photographer, author, and food and travel blogger who has lived in Lansing for 27 years. She most enjoys writing about food, people, history, and baseball. Her favorite Lansing Journal articles that she has written are: "Lan Oak Lanes attracts film crew," "Why Millennials are choosing Lansing," "Curtis Granderson returns home to give back," "The Cubs, the World Series, fandom, and family," and "Lansing's One Trick Pony Brewery: a craft beer oasis."