The call of the mild
like the measles, should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the
results may be serious.”
is so popular simply because it is the best game in the world at which to be
I’ve about had it with winter. It’s the middle of April and still there are dirty brown snowdrifts smothering the garden and choking the life out of the tulips. The thermometer claims it’s 36 degrees. That’s being generous. Winter keeps coming back like my childhood dentist when he poked his head into the waiting room, looking for victims.
done all I can to ease the pain. I putt in the living room, I chip onto the
sofa. I’ve even bought a coffee table book: 100 Courses You Can Play—knowing
I can’t play a one of them.
the windward side of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu is the Koolau Golf Course. It
mocks me from the colorful pages of the book. Considered by many to be the
toughest course on earth, Koolau is set within an ancient volcano. Locals have
dubbed it King Kong in a grass skirt. Monster Mash. Beauty and the Beast. Bring
twice as many balls as you have strokes in your handicap, they advise. The
course record is 69. Lost balls, that is.
don’t care. I’d golf the Sahara right now. Sand traps aren’t that bad.
Bring it on. Christopher Columbus went around the world in 1492. That’s
not a bad score when you think about it.
phone my friends Vance and Ron. “I can’t take it any more,” I whine.
“I’m pulling my clubs out of cold storage. Let’s go.”
clubhouse is dark and vacant when we arrive. Jim, the course manager is busily
repairing the bridge that crosses the creek to the first tee. I chat with him
about the level of the creek, about his family, about Christmas. But he knows
why I’m here. I’m like a bird dog pointing at the first tee. Surely lifers
like myself can get on a wee bit early, I plead. He laughs and points at the
fairway on two. There’s a lake on it large enough to attract a floatplane, he
says. You go out there we’ll have to form a search party.
glance over at Vance and Ron who are waiting patiently in the van, their noses
pressed against the frosty glass. I can’t quite tell, but I think they’re
about a bucket of range balls?” I beg, hoping Jim will throw me some scraps.
he smirks. “Just don’t slip on the skating rink there on the left.”
cross the bridge expectantly, each of us lugging a well-rounded bucket. Long
months of winter fade into memory as we trudge through the muck laughing like
little children on Christmas morning. Tired golf jokes are funny once more.
The clouds overhead scatter allowing the sun to poke through. Silver
linings are everywhere.
that sand trap by the 150 yard marker?” I point.
no sand trap, that’s a snowdrift.”
on. Use your imaginations. Let’s try to hit it,” says Vance.
you shoot a ball, then it’s my turn,” says Ron.
shoot until someone lands in the trap. Loser hits the rest of his bucket with
his shirt off.”
not worried. I can beat these guys with my eyes closed. The first day of the
year my golf game is together. My swing hasn’t had time to know any better.
There’s a little rust on it, a little frost, but since I have no expectations
of doing well, I am usually tremendous. I tee one up and chip it toward the snow
trap, tingling with anticipation at the long summer stretching before me.
the ball take flight I remember why I love this game.
the wonder of majestic scenery, of course. But it goes far deeper.
love the stillness out here and the talks with my sons as we look for my ball.
love the smell of fresh mown grass and the reminder that life is a walk not a
love the way golf brings my sins bubbling to the surface like no other sport,
reminding me of bad habits I need to work on.
love the amusing grace of a mulligan.
love the way this game has begun to teach me humility.
love the camaraderie of a Texas Scramble, of best ball. Perhaps it’s the
closest some of us get to a church where we care about the other guy’s swing,
where we cheer each other on.
love the discipline of working at something I know I can improve upon.
love the hope I feel before each swing.
even love the embarrassment of forgetting I have golf shoes on and standing at
the checkout line in our small town’s one and only grocery store with little
kids pointing at the “funny old man” who writes those books.
now that I think about it, I don’t even mind winter so much. Maybe next year
I’ll make a concerted effort to complain less. To change my attitude. It’s
one of the best clubs you can have in your bag, I’m told.
say God’s faithfulness is like the seasons. That “as long as the earth
remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer,
day and night” (Genesis 8:22). It’s the hope every April golfer clings to
where I come from. Springtime is a reminder that God’s mercies are new every
morning, that his faithfulness is unending, that he hasn’t failed us yet.
thoughts have me smiling right now. I don’t even mind losing to these guys.
I’ll finish this bucket and then put on my shirt.
the Lord is good. His unfailing
love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”
of the Day:
How have I seen God’s faithfulness in the past year?
of the Day: Always
warm up. If time is short forget the range. Instead, chip and putt. Swing 2
clubs together twenty times. Starting two feet from the cup, drop four balls a
foot apart. Move out a foot only when you sink one. This way you can save $3 a
day on driving range balls. In the average lifetime that’s over $87,000.
[ Order a copy on our secure site ]