The sun is just setting behind me as I walk up the 18th fairway.
My dad, pulling his clubs behind him, walks beside me. Nine
years of this, I think to myself. Today isn’t one of my better
rounds, and I’m ready to end it. In fact, I’ve been ready
to end it for the last twelve holes…
It has always amazed me just how powerfully a little round
ball can influence a person. All too often, the nature of
sport brings out the worst in people; the game of golf contradicts
that tendency. Golf has the ability to teach a player honor
and respect, not just for the game itself, but also for the
field upon which it is played, one’s fellow competitor, and
When walking around another’s line, we are not just leaving
the putt undisturbed. We are showing reverence to the player,
just as he or she would do the same to us. Additionally, golf
is a game of grace. The splendor of the picturesque golf course
is arguably among God’s greatest gifts. We have the deepest
appreciation for the grace and beauty of the game. As ambassadors
of the game, we are a reflection of that grace, from the junior
just learning to play to the senior just trying to keep up.
Finally, golf provides us with the strongest of courage and
determination. Without trophies or riches to drive the majority
of us, we start practicing at ten and, for most players, stop
when the club is finally pried from our hands. Golf instills
in us the strongest of values, and long after our final rounds,
those ideals are carried on by our husbands and wives, our
sons and daughters, and everyone else in the metaphorical
I have easily, yet regrettably, lost the hours of “lessons”
that taught me to seek sand saves with confidence and never
leave putts on the low side, that corrected my slice, and
shortly thereafter, fixed my hook, and provided me with countless
other skills. Yet, the most powerful lessons offered by the
game of golf are not so easily forgettable. Often, I find
myself wondering what it is that has made me the person I
am today: patient – if a foursome of old-timers is falling
behind the pace of play, I don’t yell too loudly; respectful
– Dad always gets the honor on the tee, always because he
is older and never because his score is better than mine;
compassionate – in a match in high school, I turned a blind
eye to an embarrassed opponent who said he had a 10 but really
had a 12.
I have come to the realization that the game of golf is
responsible for so many lessons I have learned in my time.
While hundreds of books show devotion to the perfecting of
the already technically-sound golf swing, has anyone ever
found the golf book teaching the lessons of life, or even
the player who sought it? Those lessons of love and faith
and passion can only be found with the trials and experiences
that come from playing the game so many of us love.
Nine years of this. I hastily clear my mind of the lost balls,
duffed chips, and pulled putts of the past. Sure, I’m not
playing the best golf of my life, but I know I’ve got a good
shot left in me. I walk off the yardage and pull out an 8-iron.
I find my target and address the ball, then put a swing on
Like a well-struck Titleist splitting the fairway, golf has
taught me to straighten up. I think I finally understand why
I play golf so much. I love the challenge and the skill required
to play the game, but more so do I love the way golf has taught
me to respect the people around me, regardless of their skill
(in golf and in life). I love how golf has taught me to live
a little – to “go for the green.”
But mostly, I love golf’s lesson that it, like life, cannot
be taken too seriously. It will always have its bogies, but
so too will it have its eagles. Phil Mickelson taught me a
little bit about courage and persistence. Tiger Woods taught
me you can be the best player in the world and still have
a bad round…or two. Payne Stewart taught me there are more
important things than golf, like our family and our faith.
Even with their experience and skill, we are all in the same
class. As students of the game, come second semester, we will
have to report to Lessons of Golf 101.
I blade the ball and it heads for the bunker behind the green.
To my amazement, however, it strikes the waving flag and drops
two feet from the hole. As my jaw drops, I look to my dad,
who is laughing. "Nice shot," he says. It was a
nice shot, I think to myself, and I am yet again reminded
why I continue to play the game I love so much.