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Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life

    by Tom Kelley

The Faithful Finish
Date Posted: February 2, 2023

Back in professional golf's fledgling years there were no big money tournaments. Instead there were exhibitions in which a small purse was offered to try to entice the elite of golf to come and participate. In fact, the practice was to invite (from which the term "invitational tournament" arises) those golfers that were felt to be the best players of the day. Such was the subject of the movie, "Bagger Vance," which pit Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen and the fictional Rannulph Junah against each other for ten thousand dollars.

However, as such exhibitions grew in popularity tournaments began to spring up, but mostly on the east coast. In 1925 it was decided (by those who decided such things at that time for professional golf) that a tournament was needed in Hollywood. After all, the movie industry was taking off at that time and the rich and affluent society that was burgeoning in the growing city of Los Angeles should surely be able to support a rather lucrative golf tournament.

On January 9, 1926, the first ever west coast professional golf tournament was staged in Los Angeles. At that time the contestants played four rounds of golf, as they do today, but instead of playing those four rounds on four consecutive days they played two rounds each day of the tournament. That's thirty-six holes of golf which translates to roughly seven miles of walking each day. Of course, at that time the field was not quite as large as it is today. There were not that many professional golfers in the United States so two rounds a day was possible and even desirable as many golfers were also working day jobs Monday through Friday.

In that inaugural Los Angeles Open a twenty-one year old professional named Harry Cooper won the tournament with a nine under 279. He beat runner-up George Von Elm by three strokes. What made it remarkable was that, going into the last round, Cooper was only four under. But his rapid style of play, which earned him the rather fascinating nickname of "Lighthorse", brought him back into contention as he shot a final round five under par 67 to win. It doesn't matter where you are, going into the last round of a tournament, it's where you are at the end.

Life is a lot like a golf tournament. As there are good shots and bad shots in a tournament so there are good days and bad days in life. Sometimes it looks like we might not be able to hold on to the finish. But faith is a powerful thing. And the object of that faith is even more powerful. In life, the object is to finish life with faith still shining brightly, trust in God still serving as the beacon of hope. Jesus told John to write to the angel of Smyrna, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10 The faithful finishers win.

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Biography Information:
Tom Kelley, pastor, speaker, lived with his wife, Becky, in Georgetown, Kentucky

...He was the Minister of the Minorsville Christian Church located near Stamping Ground, KY.

...Becky and Tom have three children; John, single and in worship ministry in Nicholasville, Kentucky; Sean, married (Jennifer, elementary school teacher) with twins (Grace and Patrick, b.d. 10/31/04) and regional director of Papa John's Pizza in Central KY; Kara, married (Vince Taylor, prison guard) and working with Hospice East in Winchester, KY.

...Tom went to be with the Lord on November 13, 2009 after a lengthy battle with cancer. If you have been touched by Tom's writings please send an email to Tom's son at
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