Billy Graham & Golf

I bought my golf membership this last week. I know, I know, it’s only March, but I could not wait any longer. Besides, when you buy the stupid thing, it’s only good until December 31 of that year, so I figure that I might as well own as much of the year as possible. I joined out there at Brownstown, Hickory Hills Golf Club. I played there a couple times last year, and I’ll tell ya what, they do a very nice job of keeping the place up. It’s only a 9 hole course, and that may have some dis-advantages, but it’s one of the nicest 9 hole course anywhere around. Take my word for it, I did A LOT of checking around. So, when it came time to break out the old checkbook this year, I signed one over to Hickory Hills. Next time you get a spare minute, go out there and see what you think. I’ll bet you’ll like it.

I have been thinking about golf lately. Number 1, we have had some terrific weather this year, just unbeatable. So no matter what it is you’re able to do, I’ll wager that you’re thinking about doing it outside. I was just beside myself though. I’d been cooped up, all winter long, playing Tiger Woods on Caleb’s PlayStation, so I was primed. Also, last month, I bought a new set of irons from this dude over in England; Cleveland blade style… Freakin’ 2 iron – 90˚ wedge. good puttI was starting to develop a pretty bad habit on eBay, and had just arbitrarily decided that I needed a new set of clubs. So that didn’t help either. I would talk to friends on the phone, and they would make fun of me, cuz they knew I was gonna have to cough up so dough for new clubs. Even more, they all know I couldn’t help myself. Long story short, I was ready to hit the links.

It might have been 3 days ago, or could be 4, but I finally had the chance to play a round. I’ll spare you all the details, but I did alright, especially since it was my first trip out this year. I hit the ball pretty good though. So let’s see here, if my first trip out was on a Tuesday, then my second was on Wednesday. Did alright that day too, actually I did very well on Wednesday, and even better on Thursday. Something like 8 over-par, I think I shot an 80. Now, don’t get me wrong, an 80 does not qualify you for the U.S. Open –far from it– but for me, it’s nothing to laugh at.

So I started doing some thinking yesterday morning when I was walking the course. See, that’s another thing, I walk the course. I’ve got my own little pull behind cart that carries my bag, and I walk. I don’t like riding in the motorized little golf carts. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want to rush through this. I want to enjoy every minute I’m able to spend our here. If a group of people comes up from behind, and they’re pushing me, I just stand aside, and wave them on through. Believe me, I’ve got the time.

But here I am, walking around this golf course, and I’m doing some thinking. Actually, I’m continuing a thought that I had started thinking about around October of last year, during the final months of the season. Here’s what it was about. Several years ago, my Dad gave me this little book, it was really a booklet, not very many pages. Anyway, I think it may have been written by Billy Graham, or someone like that, I can’t remember.Billy_Graham_bw_photo,_April_11,_1966 However, I DO know that the “Forward” was penned by Tom Lehman, who is a golfer on the PGA Tour. It also just so happens that Tom Lehman is a big Christian guy and everything, really balanced out. So, the name of this book was called “In His Grip”. And it was supposed to be an analogy between the game of golf, and the game of Life. Capital “L”.

The way I understood it, and mind you, I never read the whole book, goes something like this. If we will allow God to put us “in His grip”, then our lives will be a “Hole-in-One”. Cool, I just summarized the entire book, in one poorly constructed sentence. But seriously, think about that for a minute. Look at it from my somewhat warped point of view.

Brand new clubs not-withstanding, I had played this game that I have grown to love… purely on emotion. If I felt like I needed to hit an 8 iron, and then missed the shot, I would get mad, and throw the 8 iron; because hey- it’s the fault of the 8 iron! I did a lot of things, but at the end of the day, there was no logic; only raw emotion. If I missed 1 shot or if I missed 500 shots (and I did), it was never MY fault! It was convenient to blame the clubs, saying that they were old… the grips were worn. I had a million different things that I could use to explain away my problems, and my problems never, ever got better. But now– now it’s different. I’m beginning to understand that the clubs, new or old, are only an extension of “me”. I’m the problem.

Oh sure, the new clubs that I bought feel nice, and they do seem to help; but sooner or later, it all comes down to me. I needed to learn a “new grip”. Some of the next processes were physical, though about 99 % was… and IS– mental. Here I am, a mortal guy in his 40’s, and I know all there is to know? Yeah, right! golf gripEvery course I have ever played changes from day to day, just like life changes. It could be a new hole location, or different lines for the mowing crew. The belief that this life (or golf course), is going to accommodate my every little whim, is well… crazy! This is a complicated game. In the end, I am finding that I need to rely on a belief system that says I will hit the shot that I need, and not necessarily the shot that I want.

I am certain that this kind of understanding is on-going, and probably (hopefully) increases with the passage of time. As this has to do with golf, I find that this kind of attitude only increases my desire to play. With more play, always mindful of my newly discovered ideals, I hope for a lower score, and an easier trip around the course.

According to Lehman and Billy Graham, and by my own experience- this type of thinking can do wonders for your golf game. If that is the case (because we all know that life = golf, and golf = life),… imagine what such a plan-in-action could do  in our lives as a whole; for everything during and AFTER those first 9 to 18 holes of the day!


Find this and other stories in “Cornfields to City Streets ~ Everything That Lies Between: A Collection of Short Stories & Lessons in Life” is a collection of short stories based on the real life events and happenings of Jon Patrick Sage. These were written over a period of 15 years, and reflect a growth and maturity in character that most undergo, but few bother to record in prose. Yet, Jon has kept a journal of sorts, for at least these, and some upcoming events, which not only point out the importance of any particular situation, often with deep and somber tones, but also highlights the laughter and humor found in nearly every interaction. The quality and joy in life is present, more often than not, if we only take the time to look for it. If so- it will be found, and this is the essence of “Cornfields to City Streets ~ Everything That Lies Between: A Collection of Short Stories & Lessons in Life”.