Par for the Course

Mark Twain referred to golf as, “a long walk spoiled.” Boy, was he ever wrong! I love golf. I love to watch golf. I love to golf. The smell of cut grass. The feel of a well-struck drive. The sound of a ball falling in the cup. All in all, it is a great experience. But I can see how others may not be quite as enamored with the simple game of smashing a little white ball around the course. Just the apparel is enough to dissuade most from having anything to do with the sport. Some golfers should be penalized 2 strokes just for their attire alone. Some of the pants belong in a circus, or bad hotel room. Golfers should yell “Fore,” just for the clothing offense they bring onto the course. All in all, golf is a great entertainment experience.  But it is just a game… isn’t it?

Though, as I watch on a Sunday afternoon, it is easy to get caught up in the drama of a tournament. Incredible tension is created as so much is riding on a little putt. Emotions run high. Will they make the putt or not? In reality, most of those golfers will not change their lives much if they make that three-foot putt or not. But, at the time it seems soooo important. I have been on the course. I too have let my emotions get out of hand, even when it’s not for a million bucks.

We can get so upset over something so contrived… like a bogey on the golf course. In reality, there is no appreciable effect to one’s life whether or not we make the putt. But we are devastated at times with the most trivial of pursuits gone bad. Life for me does not change whether I shot an 80 or an 85. What happens on any golf course does not significantly benefit the body of mankind. I may spend hours working on my drives, though in the end, it is nothing more than a good discipline.

In a lot of ways, golf parallels life. Just like a three-foot putt, so many things in life are inconsequential, having no bearing on the quality of life, but we make them out to be life-altering. We spend large amounts of time working on, and focusing on the unimportant elements in our lives. We spend incredible amounts of time and money “striving after wind,” as the writer of Ecclesiastes would say.

Paul writes to Timothy about the importance of discipline, “On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8). Paul is encouraging Timothy not to get caught up in the menial distractions of life. He is merely stating that time is better spent on the eternal focus of life. Discipline toward the eternal yields results both in the physical world (now) and in heaven.

Golf is good for exercise. Golf is fun. Sports are fun. Hobbies are fun. But don’t miss out on the reason that you have been put on this earth, and that is to glorify God. Don’t neglect to exercise your faith and relationship in God. Life comes at you fast. Put Him FIRST!