Archive for category Golf
“What did you get on that hole?” the scorecard keeper asks. Your answer may not be as simple as just counting up your strokes. For many, this question immediately forces an ethical dilemma or sparks an internal wrestling match with one’s conscience. Do I tell him the truth– that I got “a snowman” on the short par 3 — to keep a clean conscience? Or is it better to save face and protect my ego with the guys, give a dishonest score and deal with the guilt later (when no one’s looking)? Or, better, why don’t I just try harder, screw up less and always be sure to get a respectable score every time? Like that’s possible.
Have you ever quit keeping score in the middle of a round? What’s up with that? Certainly that, too, is a defense mechanism to avoid the shame and humiliation that would come at the end of the round when you actually had to own up to your embarrassing score.
One spiritual mind exercise I occasionally engage in is to imagine Jesus along with me, taking part in a typical 21st century activity and seeing how he would act (e.g., Jesus in rush hour traffic, etc.). Play along with me for a second. What do you think it would be like golfing 18 holes at your favorite country club with Jesus (assume Jesus can get you free passes to any private dream course!)? If you’re like me, you’re already wondering if Jesus would use his divine powers and ace every hole with 500+ yard drives, whether he would walk across the water to retrieve your water ball, etc.
Yet, the issue I want to focus on in this imaginative exercise has nothing to do with Jesus’ divine swing, putting perfection and the like. Instead, I want you to ask yourself this question: What kind of scorecard keeper would Jesus be? Would Jesus be a stickler for the rules, allowing no gimmes and keeping close record of every single penalty? Remember, you’re probably not going to sneak anything by Jesus — like that secret “foot wedge” to get your ball away from that tree on # 12. Or, the classic litmus test to determine the gracious scorekeepers from the uptight, legalists:
Would Jesus allow mulligans? Read the rest of this entry »
Ask any golf expert what separates the pros from the pack of beginners and intermediate “hackers” on the course, and they will all tell you its the putting game. Many people mistakingly believe that its the 300 yard drive that makes the pros so good. While a long tee shot doesn’t hurt at all, it’s a polished short game that really saves you the most strokes. And how many of us prefer the time on the driving range over hours of practice on the putting green?
Putting excellence requires extreme patience and an obsessive commitment to practice and fine-tuning. Putting involves great attention to detail and a mastery of the art of reading the smallest slopes and slants, bumps and grooves. If we think of a potter making a jar, the tee shot, approach and chipping game all give the jar it’s basic shape and mold. Yet, the putting game is the gentle, artistic touch of the detailer that gives the jar its finishing touch of beauty.
Putting also reminds us of the significant and much neglected virtue of “finishing well.” Read the rest of this entry »
Every golfer knows that what goes on between the ears is just as critical for success as all the other mechanics that go into a golfer’s game. In fact, long after you have mastered the mechanics of a smooth, skillful golf swing, the mental game continues to be the greatest obstacle for the advanced golfer.
Tiger Woods and every other professional golfer is most haunted by the subtle attacks of the mind. These guys have mastered the swing techniques and skills of the game. But one bad shot or one poorly played hole can set off a chain reaction and downward spiral into mental weakness and lack of confidence. A short 15 inch putt that typically gives us no problem can suddenly become worrisome and anxiety-inducing. The cup gets smaller and smaller in our mind’s eye. We get caught up in what we call a “mind game” and end up choking. Read the rest of this entry »
The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course of Idaho is the proud home of the world’s first floating green — an intimidating target with water on all sides. But remember, “everything breaks towards the water.” Ka-plunk! Splash! Ever have one of those rounds where it seems as though if there’s water to be found, your ball will find it? My dad seems to be one of those unfortunate ones.
While the OB stakes try to keep your ball on playable ground and sand traps merely slow your game down a bit, water hazards are placed on the course with a more sinister purpose of swallowing up as many victims as possible. Yes, underneath those blue, sparkling innocent-looking waters lies a cold, sunken graveyard of every kind of golf ball . All golfers agree: Water hazards are evil. Read the rest of this entry »
Almost every single sporting game involves the use of established boundaries and penalizes players for going “out of bounds.” Whether we’re playing football, baseball, soccer, the gymnastics floor exercise or the game of golf, every honest player accepts the established boundaries and agrees to abide by the official rules of the game. And, if you’ve ever played with “a cheater”, you know that they disgrace the spirit of the game and bring dishonor themselves — not to mention suck a lot of fun out of the competition as well.
You see the thrill of any sport is the challenge of improving one’s skills through practice and increasing in one’s mastery of the game. No game draws upon this desire for mastery through repetition and practice more than the game of golf. Experiencing incremental improvement and gradually lower scores is intoxicating, making golf a borderline obsession and addiction for many.
Yet, those who love and respect the game of golf also respect the rules of the game that hold all players to the same standard. One of the most basic rules of the game that all players naturally honor are signified by those white stakes lining the perimeter of each hole: the “out of bounds” posts. Read the rest of this entry »
I worked on the grounds crew at Burl Oaks Golf Club in high school for four years. I absolutely loved almost every aspect of this job — mowing the greens, fairways and roughs, moving the hole placements, landscaping, washing and gassing carts. I can still smell the fresh morning air as I remember mowing greens as the sun rose over the dew covered grass on a perfect summer morning.
There was, however, one aspect of this job that was absolutely miserable — raking sand traps and bunkers. For some reason, our manager refused to purchase a riding sand pro bunker raker that operates much like a lawn tractor with front and rear rakes. Instead, he sent my buddy Jason and I out with hand rakes and helmets to rake each of the 50 or so sand traps by hand. I recall spending a couple hours in the those mini deserts on a hot, muggy 100 degree afternoon preparing for a tournament. Sand traps are hot, miserable places to be working in; and they’re even worse places to be when you’re playing a good round of golf!
For the golfer, sand traps are hazards positioned in the golf hole to guard the desired position in the landing area or green. When the average golfer finds themselves in a bunker it usually slows them down. Read the rest of this entry »
I shoot my best scores at Lakeview Golf course just two miles outside my hometown of Mound, MN. I grew up playing Lakeview weekly and later worked two summers on the grounds crew mowing and maintaining the course. I, therefore, became very familiar with every detail of this particular course. I know every hole’s unique difficulties and hazards, as well as the distance and recommended club for each approach. I know which holes one must par or birdie to shoot a good score, as well as which holes one should be happy with a bogey. I am familiar with each green’s hidden slopes and breaks.
Now, is it any surprise that I tend to shoot my best scores at Lakeview? I usually do well because I have taken the time to study and learn the ins and outs of each individual hole on this course. Now, compare this to playing a completely new course for the first time on vacation up north? Last summer I spent some time in northern Minnesota at a resort on the Whitefish chain of lakes. I scheduled an afternoon tee time at the Whitefish Golf Club.
It was a complete disaster. My distance was off and club choice poor. I found every hidden bunker, went repeatedly out of bounds and misread putt after putt. Now, there were many factors that led to my pathetic score, but the most significant may have been the simple fact that I was unfamiliar with the course. In fact, I was so disappointed with my first 18 holes that I went around a second time. I now knew the course better, learned from my previous mistakes and did much better.
As we tee off with God on the links to a deeper life with Christ, I would like to invite us all to do some pre-game preparation and study the course we are about to play. Too many people just jump blindly onto the tee box, tee it up, “grip it and rip it” without examining the unique features and challenges of the holes that lie ahead. Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to the Club House. Get your clubs ready and your shoes laced up. We are preparing to tee off on a new discipleship series called Golf & God: Spiritual Links to life with God. Jeremy continues to bring us devotional writings that cleverly and applicably link faith with the stuff of everyday life — what Jeremy calls “Sacred Analogies.” Now golf lovers and God lovers can unite as we explore the many spiritual “links” between the game of Golf and our walk with God on the course of discipleship.
Before we begin, a short explanation of the name “Golf.”
Rumor has it that the origin of the word GOLF is that it is an old acronym meaning “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.” This turns out to be just an old wives tale (or, in this case, an old husband’s tale). In actuality, the medieval Dutch word “kolf” or “kolve” meant “club.” It is believed that word passed to the Scots, whose old Scots dialect transformed the word into “golve,” “gowl” or “gouf.” By the 16th Century, the word “golf” had emerged (Sources: British Golf Museum, USGA Library).
Still, for the sake of this devotional series, I would like give a new meaning to “golfer”. I want to invite you all to become more passionate, more devoted GOLFers of Christ — that is, God-Obeying, Loving Followers of Christ.” With that in mind, golfers, let’s prepare ourselves for nine holes to truly remember.
We tee off at 6:30 tomorrow morning. See you on the first tee!