The other day, I lived out one of my dreams. I played golf at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and the management provided me with a caddie. Me, with a caddie. I felt like a real pro. It was a little stressful at the first tee. I took a mighty swing and missed the ball. “This course must be a few inches lower than mine,” I said. I took another mighty swing. I missed it again. “Man, this is the toughest course I have ever played,” I exclaimed. The caddie said, “Don’t quit now; you have a no-hitter going.” Then I nailed it. It really took off. We couldn’t find it. I was furious. “Caddie,” I hollered, “aren’t you supposed to watch my ball?” “Yes, sir,” he said, “it just caught me by surprise when you actually hit it.”
It got worse. I started slicing like a food processor. Now for those who don’t know much about golf, if the golf ball goes to the right, it’s a slice; if it goes to the left, it’s a hook; and if you hit it straight, it’s a miracle. Not many miracles were happening in my game. I took it out on my caddie. I said, “You must be the worst caddie in the world.” He said, “No, sir, that would be too much of a coincidence.” I asked him why he kept looking at his watch. He said it was a compass he kept checking.
We started the back nine. I had a beautiful short game; unfortunately, it was off the tee. I missed a hole-in-one on a par three by four strokes. I started to swing faster and faster. I swung so fast that one guy in my group got whiplash just watching it. We finally got to the 18th hole. The caddie said he was going to fly the green flag at half-mast in honor of my game. The caddie was nice. He thanked me. He said he had been a caddie at this course for 40 years, but today I showed him parts of this golf course that he had never seen before.
People love golf, and they take it seriously. We let a group play through the other day. One of the group said his wife was in a serious accident, and they were trying to finish as quickly as they could.
What can be learned from golf? It is like life. Someone has said, “You never own a golf swing; you just borrow it.” This means that if you stop doing the basic things, you’ll end up in trouble pretty quickly. Isn’t that true in life? Some basic things you may need to remember. Also, the golf course has many hazards — sand, rough, water, trees, etc. It’s best to know where they are and have a plan for avoiding them. Have you been in the sand trap of life lately? Why not develop a plan to stay on the fairway?
We could make other comparisons about golf and life, like the bad break you get when the ball bounces the wrong way. Of course, no sense complaining, you have to play it where it ends up or take a penalty stroke. Some golfers cheat to avoid the consequences, but other golfers don’t want to play with them or, if we are talking about life, live with them or work with them.
I’ve learned a lot playing golf. One thing is to take one hole at a time. Even if you did poorly on the last hole, it doesn’t count on the next hole. It sure would be discouraging if golf courses had just one hole, 7,288 yards long. People wouldn’t play that course. It would be too discouraging. That’s why they have 18 separate holes. It keeps you trying to do better on the next one. Don’t make life one long discouraging event. Set some small specific goals to keep you encouraged in your game of life.
The most important thing I’ve learned from golf I learned in a scramble tournament. That’s when you get to play the best ball. I was paired with a pro. He was so good that I really didn’t have to worry about my shots. If I did awful, I could walk up to where he had hit. It was wonderful! I was so relaxed I realized I was playing my best golf.
Trying to be good at golf can cause a lot of stress. It can quickly put you in the “hall of shame.” That’s probably why Mark Twain said, “Golf is a good walk ruined.” When I played in that tournament, I had a designated golfer (the pro). He took the pressure off my performance and enabled me to play up to my potential.
Life is like that. You can get so caught up with the performance of it that you live below your potential. If only we would relax. That’s why God sent Jesus (a pro at life) to live a perfect life and to assure you a place in heaven (Hall of Fame). The game of life is different from the game of golf in that it doesn’t really matter what you score: It’s where you finish. You could remember the difference by saying, “GOLF: GAME OF LIFE = FINISH.” So next time you play golf or watch it, think about the game of life and your designated pro — Jesus — and your Hall of Fame finish. Then relax, enjoy the scenery, take some good swings, and, like the Apostle Paul (who must have been a golfer), finish the course.