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God and golf: Where every shot, shank and duff are His will
Los Altos Town Crier ^ | 07 June 2011 | Rev. Mark S. Bollwinkel

Posted on 06/09/2011 7:41:46 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

Don’t let anyone tell you that they play the game of golf because they love it. This is a game that even the most proficient find exasperating. Only a few among the millions of its advocates consistently meet the standard of basic expectation – par.

The vast majority will spend hours upon hours, dollar upon dollar, swinging away at a 1.680-inch diameter ball, in some of the most beautiful settings on earth. Their motivations may be varied, but it can’t be because they love the game. This game wasn’t designed to be loved but endured!

Don’t confuse my rant with bitterness at my own frustration over the years playing golf. My golf angst is based on sound theology. Golf by design is a “Presbyterian game,” an opinion I hold with all due respect and affection for brothers and sisters of that persuasion. It’s not a bad thing that it is a “Presbyterian game.” On the contrary, it may be the best and only way to actually play this game.

The modern game of golf originated in Scotland long before the Protestant Reformation introduced Calvinism into the Christian mix. The first written reference to golf as we have come to know it was Scottish King James II’s 1457 ban of the game as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery.

The game fits perfectly with the radical concepts of predestination introduced into the Scottish Reformation by the eloquent revolutionary John Knox (1514-1572). After a short-lived banishment to Geneva, Switzerland, due to his fervent nationalism and violent opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, Knox assimilated John Calvin’s insistence that each and every moment in a person’s life, even his or her own religious commitment, is preordained by an omnipotent Divinity. Such faith requires the adherent to live out those moments in obedience and contrition to an all-controlling God.

There is no record of Knox playing golf, but it’s not hard to imagine that his disciples did with joy and abandon upon learning that God Almighty preordained each and every swing in golf, from solid hit to muff.

For disciples of the Methodist Reformers, John and Charles Wesley (1703-1791/1707-1788), who emphasized free will, such as myself, golf is nothing but one temptation after another. Rather than an all-controlling God, free will assumes a God that influences, powerfully to be sure, but ultimately leaves each and every moment to the choices of God’s creatures.

Thus a good golf drive can become a moment of self-aggrandizement or a bad one the occasion for self-loathing. The free-will advocate who takes up golf will find himself or herself constantly looking up to heaven imploring God’s intervention, or worse, staring down below – at one’s feet – wondering if the devil is making them play this bewildering game.

No, golf is best played by Presbyterians, not by denomination but mindset. There is freedom to enjoy golf only when you can rest assured that each and every missed shot, shank, hook, duff, bunker muff and lipped cup is God’s will. For Methodists, not by denomination but those who carry the free-will mindset, the game will drive you crazy!

It makes complete sense, at least to me, that not only was Scotland the home base for the Presbyterian evangelization of the world but along with it came golf, now a global sport.

I was reminded of these truths while taking my father out to play nine holes with my son for my dad’s Christmas present this year. My dad loves the game and has played it with devotion for years. He has been joined by a circle of buddies that share the same passion for the male version of affection: the jokes, the camaraderie, the silly bets, the pitcher of beer after the game as the occasion for storytelling. They endure the game each week, but they wouldn’t miss the friendship. Over the years as they have succumbed to illness, divorce or death, this circle has stood by each other for support and comfort, welcoming new members along the way.

Today my dad is thin and frail. It’s a huge physical effort for him to play nine holes. He can whack the ball approximately 30 yards at a time. Getting the ball out of the cup after a putt takes quite an effort. But he loves to be out there. We are convinced that such exercise has helped keep him as healthy and alert as he is at 86, which is a real blessing.

My dad doesn’t keep score anymore; that’s the Presbyterian side of him. But he does mutter frustrations that involved God’s name when he muffs it – that’s the Methodist side of him.

But as my son and I watched him and his golfing buddy laugh, cajole and tease each other over their game and 43-year history of friendship, we could both see why folks play this stupid game.

And it isn’t because they love it.

It’s because they love each other.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Humor; Mainline Protestant; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: golf; ministry
Don’t confuse my rant with bitterness at my own frustration over the years playing golf. My golf angst is based on sound theology. Golf by design is a “Presbyterian game,” an opinion I hold with all due respect and affection for brothers and sisters of that persuasion. It’s not a bad thing that it is a “Presbyterian game.” On the contrary, it may be the best and only way to actually play this game....

....a good golf drive can become a moment of self-aggrandizement or a bad one the occasion for self-loathing. The free-will advocate who takes up golf will find himself or herself constantly looking up to heaven imploring God’s intervention, or worse, staring down below – at one’s feet – wondering if the devil is making them play this bewildering game.

No, golf is best played by Presbyterians, not by denomination but mindset. There is freedom to enjoy golf only when you can rest assured that each and every missed shot, shank, hook, duff, bunker muff and lipped cup is God’s will. For Methodists, not by denomination but those who carry the free-will mindset, the game will drive you crazy!....

....There is no record of Knox playing golf, but it’s not hard to imagine that his disciples did with joy and abandon upon learning that God Almighty preordained each and every swing in golf, from solid hit to muff.

"Presbyterians often forgot that John Knox had been a Sunday bowler"
-- from the thread Revolution, devolution, evolution

1 posted on 06/09/2011 7:41:48 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

For myself, playing a round of golf is simply the most pernicous way of ruining a nice walk.


2 posted on 06/09/2011 7:50:52 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Alex Murphy

3 posted on 06/09/2011 7:54:05 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: Alex Murphy; jessduntno; onedoug; cincinnati65; PISANO; IonImplantGuru; Rummyfan; Aussie Dasher; ...


4 posted on 06/09/2011 7:54:08 AM PDT by Baynative (Truth is treason in an empire of lies)
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To: Baynative

Ah. Ping. Very good.


5 posted on 06/09/2011 7:57:39 AM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: Alex Murphy

The golf course is a place where people put their soul and character on display.


6 posted on 06/09/2011 7:58:14 AM PDT by Baynative (Truth is treason in an empire of lies)
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To: Alex Murphy

Whew!

For a moment, before actually reading the article (which was quite good), I thought this was about me!

CA....


7 posted on 06/09/2011 8:04:08 AM PDT by Chances Are (Seems I've found that silly grin again....)
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To: Alex Murphy

Supposedly, God got the attention

of the one and only

“School’s Out For Summer”

Alice Cooper

through a golf video commentary of R.C. Sproul...

To the Sovereignty of God in every whiff, duff, wormburner, shank, slice, hook, five-putt-to-make-a-triple-bogey....

Hallelujah!!!


8 posted on 06/09/2011 8:12:42 AM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
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To: Baynative

Wow.

Well put.

As an unconverted youngster, I was an selfish, prideful, evil little prick on the golf course.

To my shame.

Re: see my tagline.


9 posted on 06/09/2011 8:15:35 AM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Golf spelled backwards: flog


10 posted on 06/09/2011 8:24:31 AM PDT by noexcuses
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To: Alex Murphy
I. Love. To. Golf.
11 posted on 06/09/2011 8:32:53 AM PDT by wyokostur
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To: Alex Murphy
God Almighty preordained each and every swing in golf

He must've been in a jokester mood when preordaining Charles Barkley's swing.

....."G-damnit!!"

12 posted on 06/09/2011 8:45:37 AM PDT by Mr. Mojo
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To: Alex Murphy

I found Jesus on the golf course. Well at least I heard his name several times.


13 posted on 06/09/2011 9:02:49 AM PDT by Recon Dad (Herman Cain is the man in 2012)
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To: Vanders9

“The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.”

Billy Graham


14 posted on 06/09/2011 9:03:41 AM PDT by Recon Dad (Herman Cain is the man in 2012)
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To: Yo-Yo

“If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.”

Lee Trevino quotes


15 posted on 06/09/2011 9:04:35 AM PDT by Recon Dad (Herman Cain is the man in 2012)
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To: Baynative

If profanity had an influence on the flight of the ball, the game of golf would be played far better than it is. ~Horace G. Hutchinson


16 posted on 06/09/2011 9:05:22 AM PDT by Recon Dad (Herman Cain is the man in 2012)
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To: Alex Murphy

I truly believe in predistination and golf. If I am shooting even par going into the last hole I will shoot at least a 12 on the 18th.


17 posted on 06/09/2011 9:09:23 AM PDT by Recon Dad (Herman Cain is the man in 2012)
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To: Yo-Yo

Caddyshack? Why do I think that´s such an entertaining movie? My wife hates it.

I once saw and heard a golfer cussing his soul out after he´d thrown his club and it caught in a tree. Wow, was he PO´d.


18 posted on 06/09/2011 9:44:36 AM PDT by onedoug (If)
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To: Alex Murphy

Not going to lie. My GHIN is 18.9. But I enjoy every time I get to play golf. The days are usually beautiful, the courses are beautiful, and usually my playing partners are nice guys. I find it quite enjoyable to mentally and physically seek perfection. I wish I was a better putter, but you can’t have everything. I don’t know anything about what this guy is writing about, but I have fun. And it’s always nice to sit down with a few friends after a round and have a beer.


19 posted on 06/09/2011 9:48:05 AM PDT by Doc Savage ("I've shot people I like a lot more,...for a lot less!" Raylan Givins)
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To: Alex Murphy
On His Course Golf ministry in northern Virginia
20 posted on 06/09/2011 9:51:43 AM PDT by HokieMom (Pacepa : Can the U.S. afford a president who can't recognize anti-Americanism?)
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To: Alex Murphy
Having a hard time meeting people ? try hitting picking up the wrong ball on a golf course.

Never buy a putter until you first had a chance to throw it.

You know you're getting old when all your irons go the same distance.

To determine where you are in life, figure it takes 4 years to play a hole. I'm playing my second shot on the 15th.

God does not subtract from your allotted time on earth, the time spent on a golf course.

21 posted on 06/09/2011 11:00:15 AM PDT by stylin19a
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To: onedoug

Caddyshack? Admittedly, I haven’t been able to sit through the whole thing. I found it juvenile and lacking any humor. Can’t understand why people like it.


22 posted on 06/09/2011 1:32:12 PM PDT by Baynative (Truth is treason in an empire of lies)
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To: stylin19a

"Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air." ~ Jack Benny


23 posted on 06/09/2011 1:41:05 PM PDT by Baynative (Truth is treason in an empire of lies)
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To: Alex Murphy
God and golf: Where every shot, shank and duff are His will

God is concerned with all of His creation. What makes you think that He gives a care about idiots who blame Him for their inability to play golf?

24 posted on 06/09/2011 5:34:52 PM PDT by MarkBsnr (I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so..)
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To: Baynative

Ted Knight & Rodney Dangerfield.

¨Hey Smeals, then thousand says you miss that putt.¨


25 posted on 06/09/2011 7:14:24 PM PDT by onedoug (If)
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To: onedoug
All I remember from what I saw was a turd floating in the swimming pool and Bill Murray vandalizing the country club landscaping with an 8 iron.

To some that is sophisticated humor, not me. I guess it made Murray a lot of money, though.

26 posted on 06/09/2011 8:42:36 PM PDT by Baynative (Truth is treason in an empire of lies)
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To: Baynative; All

Regarding the US Open next week, I have four (4) tickets for Saturday (June 18,the third round) that I cannot use. Know anyone in the DC area who would want them - face value - Freepmail me.


27 posted on 06/10/2011 6:41:05 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Rummyfan
US Open ticket ping - See #27 above:


28 posted on 06/10/2011 7:00:08 AM PDT by Baynative (Truth is treason in an empire of lies)
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