Golfing and Faith

When I was about 12 years old my grandfather came out to the farm for a visit. On this particular occasion he brought with him two golf clubs, a left-handed 7 iron and a right-handed 5 iron. My brother got the 5 and I got the 7. It was the start of something that has lasted all these years ... my love for golf. And yes, I still shoot left-handed!

A number of years ago, in small town Saskatchewan, I was talking to my neighbour about how I like to get out on the golf course. He quickly remarked, “I thought that would be the last place a preacher would go because the language on the golf course [after a bad shot] and the pious life of a preacher don’t really go together!” I didn’t think it was that funny but I laughed anyway just to make him feel like he was so clever.

I bought a golf membership this year. I do enjoy the fresh air, the long walk (some days longer than others), and the challenge. The people I golf with are good company too and I have found that the language isn’t all that bad. I don’t like the mosquitos but I guess that’s just the way life is since Adam and Eve knocked the ball out of bounce.

It got me thinking. The terms that are common in golf are very much like our faith journey. Let me give you a few examples.

Jesus said “... small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:14). Every time I tee off I’m finding that the fairway is narrow and that it’s difficult to find it with the ball. On either side of the fairway is what they call the rough. Not all roughs are equal. I once played in the Bahamas and there the rough was a tangled mess of twisted grass that made it pretty much impossible to play (if you could even find your ball).

Along with the rough, golf courses also have hazards. Hazards are obstacles (natural or man-made), like creeks and bunkers, that are designed to make it more difficult to play a perfect game. Hazards are a part of life’s journey as well. You might have had a car accident or are experiencing a health issue. Suddenly it just feels like your next shot, your next club choice, is going to be a difficult one.

When you do find yourself in a difficult situation it’s really important to have a close friend who will help you through your crisis. In professional golf every golfer has a caddie. Some of those relationships are amazingly close. For example, professional golfer Fuzzy Zoeller once said about his caddie: “I never had any thought the whole week. I figured my caddie knew the course a lot better than me, so I put out my hand and played whatever club he put in it. I'd say, ‘How hard do I hit it?’ He'd tell me and I'd swing. The guys who come down here once a year and try to get smart with [the] course are the dumb ones.”

Finally, the most exciting moment in golf is when someone gets a hole-in-one! I’ve never done it but I’ve come close a couple of times. As I live out my faith in this journey called life I’m reminded that outside of Jesus I am lost, broken, and without hope. He paid the price for my salvation with his own blood. He paid the cost of my membership. I only have to receive it and then get out there on the course and play. In Jesus I am truly whole in One!