“I can sum it up like this: Thank God for the game of golf.”--Arnold Palmer (1929 – 2016), winner of seven Majors
God is everywhere on the golf course. How do I know this? I hear His name numerous times throughout each and every round.
Sometimes, it is used in vain. In other words, He gets the blame for the duck hook, the bladed chip and the misread putt. In fact, according to PGA professional Bobby Joe Grooves*, there is one UNIVERSAL GOLF TRUTH:
“Play good, putt bad. Putt good, play bad.
“That's every golfer's complaint. You can't have it all. God won't let you. So you go out to play a round and you either expect to play good, putt bad, or putt good, play bad. Usually you find out which way it'll go on the first two or three holes.”
*Grooves is a character in Dan Jenkins’ book, The Money-Whipped Steer-Job Three-Jack Give-Up Artist.
Of course, technically, despite inexplicable bad hops, unexpected gusts of wind and the mysterious lapses of judgment, God is not and should not be considered an “outside influence,” which would exonerate you from accepting responsibility for the duff, the shank, the wormburner, the whiff, the Van de Velde (look up 1999 British Open), the stub, the bogey train, the chunk, the water ball, the fried egg, the slice, the skull, etc. Let’s be honest here. God deserves credit for us being here, but He shouldn’t be blamed for an unfinished backswing.
With that said, there is no rule that prohibits you from asking God for a little help during a round. It’s called prayer. Below are four prayers that seem to have stood the test of time:
A SERENITY PRAYER FOR GOLFERS
God grant me the serenity to accept the shots I miss,
the courage to try, try again,
and the wisdom not to throw my clubs in the lake.
A SIMPLE REQUEST
May the ball lie in green pastures,
Not in still waters.
PRAYER FOR GOOD HEALTH
Lord, may I live long enough to shoot my age!
AN IRISH GOLFERS’ PRAYER
May my swing be straight and the ball fly far.
May my round be blessed with no worse than par.
Perhaps the best overall approach to the God-Golfer relationship is for the Golfer to simply count his blessings and thank Him for the grass, trees, hills, hollows, wind, creeks, lakes, oceans, sand, rainy days, blue skies, birds, the friendships that blossom on the course and for golf professionals who have the patience to deal with all of our shortcomings and eccentricities.
I would like to think that the aging Hardy Greaves, the narrator in the movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance, had it right when he said, “God is happiest, when his children are at play.” Those words have me seeing a smiling God looking down on a foursome high-fiving each other after the last putt is made on the 18th green. That’s an image worth remembering as you head to the Men’s Grill to count up your score.