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Aleks, a Promising Teen Golfer, Overcomes a Challenging Growth Spurt

Taken out of athletic action by persistent knee injuries, Aleks Golde found a new passion in golf thanks to successful sports surgery and an effective sports physical therapy regimen at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Female golfer swinging a golf club

In middle school, Aleks couldn’t be stopped. A three-season athlete, she played volleyball, basketball and soccer.

When she grew more than 6 inches in a year and injured both of her knees, she found herself in an unfamiliar place: the sidelines.

Aleks’ dramatic growth spurt caused her to develop a condition called a fat pad impingement, in which the fatty tissue below the kneecap is inflamed or pinched. The resulting pain was low grade but chronic, making high-intensity sports difficult.

A natural golfer

“Aleks was told she really couldn’t do anything, and being an athletic kid, that was really hard to adjust to,” says her mom, Evia. “So she picked up a golf club and started taking lessons for fun and realized she was actually pretty good.”

Aleks took to the links as a high school freshman and was playing tournament golf year-round by her sophomore year.

But the pain in her knees persisted.

Aleks came to the pediatric sports medicine specialists at Children’s for treatment, ultimately deciding with her care team to undergo surgery.

Success in surgery

“She wasn’t nervous at all leading up to the surgery—she just wanted it done. She was sick of trying to take this conservative approach, and she just wanted to be better,” Evia said. “[S. Clifton Willimon, MD, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon] took really good care of her.”

The surgery was a success. After six weeks or so on crutches, Aleks began golf-specific sports physical therapy at Children’s to get a full range of motion and improve her swing. Three months after her surgery, Aleks was back on the golf course without any pain.

In her junior season, Aleks is aiming to improve on the previous year’s impressive sixth-place finish. She’s visited colleges and talked to coaches and hopes to land an offer to continue her golfing career at the collegiate level—just two and a half years after picking up a club.

“She’s had a remarkable recovery, like 100%. It’s actually pretty amazing because, as parents, you’re all worried, and you don’t want to do surgery,” Evia said. “But after the surgery, it was great. I would say she’s thrilled with the outcome.”

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