Links Daily Devotional

Still Kickin’

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27, ESV)

I was one of three people on the practice range that Saturday morning. Every slot would be filled within the next hour, just prior to the annual member/member tournament. But for now there were just the three of us, and I barely noticed the other two as I took the gap wedge from my bag and began loosening up.

The tournament would start in less than an hour and I wanted to make sure my whole game was ready before it was tested in the crucible of competition.The next 20 minutes evaporated as I hit five balls at a target, then five balls at an alternate target, all the time working on balance and tempo. Suddenly my concentration was broken by a stern but friendly shout from one of my fellow practicers: “I want you to let me know when your next birthday comes around, because I’m going to buy you a watch.” The words were meant for our Director of Instruction who had just pulled up in her cart, thirty minutes behind schedule.

I knew the voice belonged to Buzz, and as he walked off the range later, his lesson finally concluded, I stopped him to say hello and to ask a question.

“If you don’t mind my asking, Buzz, how old are you now?”

He told me he was 93, and I congratulated him on still working on his game, on still trying to get better. We had a nice chat about that and I went back to my place on the range, which was now filling up, and noticed that Mert was in the spot behind me and hitting balls to get ready for the day’s play. Mert is only 84, but he has shot his age or better nearly 300 times and kept every card to prove it. He, too, works on his game.

I shared with him, as I had with Buzz, that he was living proof of something I had said recently to a Links Fellowship in Palm Desert, California: “No matter how old you are, you can still get better at golf and at life.”

In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote that he was disciplined, still working hard to stay strong and even improve. If Paul needed that, how much more do I need it? If Mert is still working hard on his game, how about me?

Buzz told me he had asked the pro to “start at the beginning” with him. I told him that Jack Nicklaus used to do that every year with his pro, Jack Grout. Unlike the swing gurus of today, many of whom travel with their Tour player students and almost all of whom are available by video to analyze and tweak, Nicklaus and Grout would get together for an extended session only at the beginning of each year.

Nicklaus would ask him how to hold the club, how to set up, and how to find the right line and the right swing. Just like Buzz was doing. It made me wonder if I shouldn’t ask God to do that with me from time to time. “Take me back to the basics, Lord, and help me make sure no bad habits have crept into my life. Show me how to hold on to truth, how to trust, how to love, how to have confidence and courage.”

I hit a few more balls then headed for the chipping green. The tournament would start in less than an hour and I wanted to make sure my whole game was ready before it was tested in the crucible of competition. Just like the apostle Paul wanted to be ready every day.

Lewis Greer
January 10, 2017
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