Wild About Golf

Daily Post: Enamored


The Senior Men’s Golf Association (SMGA) at Lake Park Golf Course played a Texas Shamble yesterday.  This format is a modification of the “scramble” format, in that each team must use each of the 4 team-member’s drives at least 3 times in the 18 holes, but includes par 3’s for the count.  This is a serious challenge for the high-handicapper, but also evens the field a little more than the average scramble tournament.  Our team shot -7 for the tournament, but more than that, we had a great deal of fun.  I think that one of our guys got upset a time or two, when our “A” (9 handicap) player ran roughshod over which ball our team would play.  But hey, it’s a game right, so he chilled and we went on.

Some people say “I love golf.”  These people are crazy.  What they really mean is, “I’m enamored with the idea that I can play the game of golf well.”  “Well” is the operative term here.  Obviously “well” is determined subjectively by the player, not objectively by the player’s partners.  Most of the guys in the SMGA are out there every Tuesday to share some camaraderie with their buddies, and have been doing so for years now.  They play some golf, share some laughs, give each other a hard time, but few play the game “well,” if the objective observer would be say a tour player on television.  They are just out there for the “love of the game.”  But golf can be a brutal game.

There’s a phrase that golfers use to describe a shot they make, with which they are extremely satisfied.  “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”  If the drive goes down the middle and far enough, you might hear your partner say, “You busted the cover off that one.”  If you put your 9-iron, 125 yard approach shot 3-feet from the pin, you might hear your partner say, “Well stuck! That’s tight!” When you make a 30-foot, left-to-right breaking putt for “birdie,” you might hear “You’re on fire!”  To which you would respond, “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”

It is at this point that we are smitten with the idea that we can repeat this performance every time we strike the ball.  At times, the streak of well-struck shots continues for several holes.  Other times, a birdie putt may be followed by a drive from the next tee box, directly into the woods, the water, or the sand.  In which case, we are a little less enamored with golf, but refuse to quit trying!

A good friend of mine likes to see all of life though the lens of golf.  He does this because what brought him to Christ in the first place, was the concept of “mulligans.”  He and I played a lot of golf before he took the step of faith into Christ.  But he did, because Romans 5:20-21 spoke to him from the fairways and greens.

Romans 5:20-21
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My friend calls this the “mulligan verse.”  It just finally made sense to him, that his efforts at living this life perfectly was never going to happen.  He was going to “skull” one off into the rough, or he was going to “slice” one into the water, or he was going to miss the inevitable 3-foot put for par, while trying to be perfect every time.  The Law of God is perfection, and only one person ever kept it perfectly… Jesus.

Through my friend’s eyes, it seems crystal clear that none of our lives are perfect.  We can’t ever be.  Yet God offers unlimited mulligans to those who are in Christ Jesus.  The very phrase “grace abounded all the more” was written for duffers in life, like you and me.  I’m enamored with the game of golf because it is such a vivid image of my walk with God.  I try really hard to do it right every time.  I get close to doing it as well as I can at times, and usually say, “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”

When I don’t do it so well…
When I shank it into the hazard…
The most freeing thought comes back to me again, “grace abounded all the more.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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