LINKS LETTER, OCTOBER 2000

THE $100,000 DAY

By Doug Tewell with Jeff Hopper

I had had a big year in 1980 and a dismal year in 1981. I was really struggling with myself in ’82 and ’83 with the way I handled myself on the golf course. It just didn’t seem to get any better.

1983, ’84 and ’85 were just sort of, “Well, I got the job done, I made a living, paid our bills, and life went on.” But I was not getting out of life what I really wanted. I think it was because I hadn’t really made that commitment to Christ. I heard Billy Graham’s daughter say, “A lot of people go to church, but they don’t really know God.” And I think that’s where I was.

1986 rolled around and I told my wife, “I don’t know. This may be the last year. I think there has got to be something out there better.”

We were praying about it, and I said, “You know, honey, I think I need to go to the West Coast by myself. I need to do some soul searching.”

Money was a little tight at the time. I thought we might need to make a decision. Stopping my career wasn’t really what I wanted to do. But things weren’t going the way I wanted them to go.

She said, “Well, I think that’s fine, you go to the West Coast.”

So I flew out to San Diego and played that week, and didn’t play very well.

I went up to Los Angeles next. It was the week of our seventeenth wedding anniversary, and we had never been apart on our anniversary. I knew that we were going to be apart this time for the first time, and it really crushed me. Our marriage was very strong, and even through the tough times I don’t think our marriage weakened much. Our relationship was the one thing that stayed very, very strong.

I felt very bad about missing our anniversary, but I thought, Well, I guess sooner or later you’re not going to be home for one of these. Especially in this business.

So I was in Los Angeles, and I teed off and played the first two rounds. I was playing pretty well, but I bogied a couple of holes coming in. Still I made the cut.

When I walked off the eighteenth green that Friday, there stood my wife. I was overcome with emotion and I said, “What are you doing here?”

She said, “Happy anniversary!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

She hastily explained, “I just thought that we’d made this commitment to each other, and I thought I was going to come out here on a leap of faith that you’d make the cut and make some money, and we could afford to do this.”

“Well–great! But I’ve gotta go practice.”

So down to the range we went for the usual one-hour practice session. We did that, and I was really excited because Saturday was our anniversary. We went out to dinner that night and had a little husband-and-wife talk.

She said, “I just want to tell you some things. I know you’ve been down, but it looks like you’ve got it going a little better this week.

“Anyway,” she continued, “I was in church last Sunday. The pastor talked about members of our church who might give a ‘wheat offering.’ ”

In 1986 dollars, that ‘wheat offering’ the pastor was describing was worth about $10,000.

Then Pam said, “Honey, I committed us to that $10,000.”

“You did what? We don’t have $10,000 to give right now.”

“I know, but we’ve got to step out on faith here that God is going to meet our needs and that if we’re obedient, He’ll honor us. I was sitting there thinking, He’s speaking to me right now. So I made the commitment.

It was almost upsetting to me. But this is the great thing about being married to Pam. She’s always been the stronger of us two when it comes to faith.

I said, “OK, whatever. At least it’s just a pledge.”

We finished our dinner, and when we got up the next morning, Pam asked, “What are you going to do for me on our anniversary? It’s our seventeenth.”

I answered smartly, “Well, I’ll make seventeen birdies. How’s that?”

Of course, we kind of laughed it off. But I teed off and I birdied the first hole. I birdied the second hole. I birdied the third hole. I birdied the fourth hole. I birdied the fifth hole. I birdied the sixth hole. I looked over at Pam and I raised my arms, like in disbelief. I said, “Maybe I’m going to do it!”

I went on to shoot 66 that day to take a one-shot lead in the L.A. Open. I didn’t believe it. Everything was back in place and I was playing great golf.

That night I could not sleep at all. I was so nervous. I kept sitting up in bed, until Pam said, “Honey, just lie down. If nothing else, just close your eyes and let your body rest.”

I bet we prayed 10 or 15 times that night, “Give me some peace, please. Just let me get through this without shooting 100 tomorrow.”

So that proverbial one o’clock tee time rolled around, and soon I came up that big hill there at Riviera where the great players–Hogan, Snead, Byron Nelson–had walked up in victory. Pam asked, “How do you feel?”

I responded simply, “I don’t know. I’m tired, but I going to go for it.”

I went out and shot 8-under par 63 to win the tournament by seven shots. It was the greatest round of golf I had ever played in my life.

I walked off the eighteenth green into Pam’s arms. Of course, I was very emotional. As we were hugging, I pulled back and said, “I guess you can write that check now.”

With bonuses and everything, I won $102,000 for the week.

Pam said, “I guess God met that pledge tenfold, didn’t He?”

I shook my head and said, “Yeah, if this doesn¹t make you believe in Scripture, nothing will.”

I’ve always felt that was a pretty inspirational time because I had no clue that I could do that. I left it in God’s hands. I didn’t think I should ask for the win, but I did ask Him for peace, and to this day, it is still the greatest round of golf I’ve ever played.

Sometimes God uses the people closest to you to strengthen your faith. Had Pam not pledged that money, what would I have done?

Maybe I overreacted to her pledge. Maybe I should have said, “Great! That’s what God wants us to do.” But I reacted in the typical husband fashion—”We don’t have the money, we can’t do that.”

But that isn’t what Scripture tells you. God already knew what was going to happen. He knew the money was going to be there.

COPYRIGHT 2000 LINKS PLAYERS INTERNATIONAL

  • Doug Tewell

    4 PGA Tour wins: 1980 Sea Pines Heritage, 1980 IVB-Philadelphia Open, 1986 Los Angeles Open, 1987 Pensacola Open

    8 Champions Tour Win (two majors): 2000 PGA Seniors’ Championship, 2000 SBC Championship, 2000 Novell Utah Showdown, 2001 Countrywide Tradition, 2002 Verizon Classic, 2002 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, 2003 Farmers Charity Classic, 2004 Greater Hickory Classic