Devotional: October 8th
Humility. That is the greatest lesson that golf teaches a person. Humility. I have known a number of excellent athletes who have given golf a try and quit after a short stint. That old thing about the hardest thing to do is hit a baseball traveling ninety miles an hour? Forget that. I have seen baseball players who can hit a baseball thrown ninety miles and hour that can't hit a golf ball sitting on a tee. The usual reaction? They walk away muttering under their breath, "This is a stupid game."
In baseball you can go 0 for 4 and still win the game because your pitcher pitched well and the rest of the team hit. In football you can have a poor day as a quarterback throwing the ball and still win the game because your ground game works and your defense was stalwart. In basketball you can be held scoreless individually and still win the game because someone else on the team had the hot hand. But in golf, if you chunk one into the pond, slice one into the trees, hook one out-of-bounds, line one over the green or (shudder) whiff, you're stuck with the results of your stroke.
Immortal athletes have been humbled by the game. Just ask Charles Barclay, the former power forward of the National Basketball Association who, at just six feet three and a half inches, made a living rebounding against the giants of the NBA. Barclay's swing and its resulting game look like anything but the product of a world class athlete, which Barclay is. He has a pronounced hitch which produces tops and fat shots galore. The one thing he is good at in golf is being consistently inconsistent. And he now knows humility.
Eddie Merrins, long time club pro to the stars at the Bel-Air Country Club in California, was never intimidated teaching the stars to play golf. Even though his list of clientele included such notables as Jack Nicholson, Joe Pesci, Gary Cooper and Clark Gable, their renown never got the best of Merrins. He knew that if there is one thing golf does, and does exceedingly well, it is to expose a person's mortality. Superstars are suddenly just people when they play golf as they find out hitting a mark on a stage or remembering a line in a movie is a lot easier than hitting a wedge from forty yards and getting it close to the flag to save double bogie.
Humility. It attacks us all at some point in life. How we deal with it is our legacy. Golf lays us bare for our playing partners to see. So does life. When we try to be super in life we find out just how human we truly are. Failure is a wicked taskmaster and yet so many of us ascribe to it simply by thinking we have all the answers. We are not the wellspring of living. God is. Some of the best advice for living I have ever read was given by the apostle Paul. "I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly." Romans 16:19, 20 We do that and humility becomes a crown.
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