In the spring of 1962, while a freshman at Texas A&M, I picked up a set of golf clubs and played the university course for the first time. I found the game extremely challenging, and was immediately hooked.
I purchased a complete set of used MacGregor golf clubs and immersed myself in the game in my free time when I wasn’t playing baseball that summer.
What I loved most about the sport was the challenge of hitting that little round ball correctly and seeing it drop into the hole. I spent many hours practicing on the local driving range on a public course in South Central Texas. That was the beginning of a 50-plus year infatuation with the game of golf.
In my opinion, there’s no greater game to learn and play. I’ve always loved to compete, and golf gives me the opportunity to play in tournaments and wager with others of similar skill.
It’s not about winning. Just playing the game and pulling off difficult shots and sticking the ball near the hole is all the exhilaration I need.
There’s no game that has so many similarities to the game of life!
The challenges you face on the golf course can help build character and perseverance in other aspects of life. The ball often ends up in places you’d rather not be. If you play the game by the rules, you can’t go around improving your lie and kicking the ball out of the rough or a penalty area. You need to play by the rules and do your best to limit extra strokes downstream.
Golf is a game of facing adversity.
For the past six years, I’ve given my time to supporting a local golf tournament that’s helping to make a difference in the lives of local kids who want to play golf. We’ll be conducting the seventh annual Tom McFadden Memorial Golf Tournament later this year. and we’d love to see it grow and positively affect the lives of more young people.
What’s unique about this event is the format. It’s a scramble event like many tournaments, but each team has one junior as the fourth player on the team. Those kids who participate get to play with business professionals and retirees who can give them encouragement in their game and in life!
I never had the pleasure of playing golf with the honoree, but over the years I’ve befriended his son, Brad. Tom was a scratch golfer who actually played professionally for a season of his life. I only spoke to him once, casually, a few years before his untimely death.
What I know about Tom is that he loved the Lord, and he loved seeing kids learn the game of golf. This tournament allows his legacy to live on.
I’m thankful our Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara now sponsors this worthwhile charity event, which donates all the proceeds to The First Tee Central Coast, Russ Morrison Junior Golf and our local Kiwanis children’s endeavors. Golf is a great conduit for giving back to the community.
Now let’s talk about golf and life. My Christian walk over the past 35 years has changed my outlook on the game of golf and the game of life. As I mentioned earlier, winning is not as important as knowing that I’ve given my best effort on every shot and on how I conduct my business and personal dealings in life.
We have to live with ourselves and our actions, and how they might affect others.
In Proverbs 12:22, we’re told, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful.”
Golf requires truthfulness and a proper accounting of every stroke in fairness of each competition. We need to conduct ourselves accordingly in business and life situations as well.
It’s quite tempting to simply improve your lie when no one is looking on the golf course. It’s also quite tempting to take shortcuts in business and life since no one may be looking or ever find out what we’ve done.
We’re kidding ourselves with this “no one will know” dialogue. We will certainly know, and God also knows what we’ve done.
Let us learn to strive to do things in a way that God is honored and we can live with ourselves!
I truly love playing golf and I love life. What I love most about life is the opportunity to please my Lord and Savior in all I do and say. Even if you don’t play golf, I trust you will place God first in all you do and love others as you love yourselves.
Passages to Ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at [email protected] for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.