Links Daily Devotional

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Tempting

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  (James 1:13-14, NIV)

While we know from James that God does not tempt anyone, the same is not true for golf course architects. In fact it seems to be near the top of their priority list when designing or restoring (like Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw at Pinehurst No. 2) a golf course. I can just see a course designer hunched over his drawing board and inking in a creek about 220 out and 237 to carry and saying, “Go for it, you wannabe pros. I dare you!”

Coore and Crenshaw came up with a brilliant temptation at No. 2 for the U.S. Open: they decided to replace the rough with compacted sand and dirt. With deep rough there is no temptation­—just hack it out into the fairway. With dirt, at least according to Paul Goydos, temptation comes into play. Now maybe you can go for it. And Goydos, who is not unlike the rest of us, says that if he has a chance to go for the green his ego jumps in, takes over, and suddenly he finds himself trying a very difficult shot that could help but could also cost him a double. He has met temptation, and temptation has won.

That may or may not happen to you on a golf course, but it happens to me all the time. It also happens to me off the golf course. As I have matured as a golfer I have learned to recognize the temptations better, including sucker pins. Am I as good at spotting those off the course? The sucker e-mail, for instance?

On the course we often call temptations “risk-reward.” Players who take risks are popular, especially if they succeed once in a while, and then we mere mortals emulate them because we think only of the reward. We are “enticed by our desires,” and the architect smiles. So what can we learn for the temptations in life from temptations in golf?

First, be on the lookout for temptations, from the moment you get out of bed until go back to sleep. Second, when you see one, call it for what it is. Third, deal with it using the best wisdom and counsel available to you, starting with God’s Word. Ideally you will not yield to temptation off the course, though we all do on occasion. The good news is that God still loves you and still forgives you, even when temptation gets the upper hand. For you golfers, the bad news is that I’ve yet to meet a forgiving scorecard—it’s better to keep away from temptation there, too!

Lewis Greer
June 20, 2014
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.