I love golf. There is only one problem: Golf does not love me.

As a young adult, I could pull out the clubs and shoot in the 80s and not blink twice. I never took the game super seriously, so getting down to par (around 72) was probably not going to happen. Shooting in the 80s would work for me.

Most of the guys I played with struggled to break 100. They would get very irritated when winter ended and the courses opened. I show up and shoot an 84 while they tried their hardest to not take an 8 and break the 100 barrier. In those days, I loved the game and the game loved me.

That all changed in an instant. I was playing flag football. I was the quarterback and driving for a score. Instead of pulling my flags, the big guy on the opposing team two-hand touched me right in the middle of my chest, somersaulting me backward.

Did you know that when a quarterback throws the ball, his opposite arm and hand fly behind him? I didn't, either. I figured it out when I got up and grabbed my wrist. My arm was in the right place, only my palm was up when it should have been down. The wrist was a mess. Little did I know, my arm had a splinter break. It was going to be a long recovery.

The doctor wanted to operate. He said the bones would not line up and I would lose power in my left wrist. I have a philosophy: If you don’t have to cut open the body, don’t. I told him to set it and let it go. He warned me I would not be hitting home runs as a softball player and if I played golf there was going to be a slice. He wasn’t kidding. Instantly, I had a banana slice.

About the only fun I had was setting up for the slice with someone I had never golfed with before. They would interrupt me when they noticed I’d lined up far left. I told them to take a video. They were about to see some amazing golf. I figure I can hit the ball 300 yards. The only problem is it travels 150 yards straight and 150 yards to the right.

No use losing any sleep over it all. I will never win the Masters. Golf doesn’t put food on my table. I’ll live. Lately, with the help of my friend Bob Jarrell, I’ve been able to get the boomerang under control. At least I can enjoy the game some.

Today I got in nine holes over at Okatie Creek. I didn’t hit the ball all that bad. I didn’t hit it all that well, either. I was disappointed. Last week I shot a 44 on the back nine and was hoping good things were ahead.

My friend noticed I was peeking. In case you don’t know golf, that’s when you lift your head and don’t keep it down with your eyes focused on the ball. It’s hard to hit a good shot when you are not looking at the ball. It’s a common error. An old friend said to spit where the ball once sat after you hit the ball. He laughed, “That will keep your head down.” Well, I wasn’t spitting today and my head was all over the place.

My buddy asked me if I knew why we pull our heads. I answered, “We want to see where the shot went.” He laughed once again. “Nope,” he said with a smile. He continued to educate me: “It’s our pride.” It didn’t take long to admit he was right. We want to admire our own shot instead of letting our playing partner follow the trajectory.

We talked some more. It’s like life, actually. Our pride takes our focus off the important things, those being God and our loved ones. We don’t let things pan out as they should. Each of us wants control.

So instead of spending some time in the word of God, I’d rather pull my head out of it and plan my day without being reminded that God is in control. Instead of focusing on my family, I’ll just hope they can catch up with me. When they don’t, tempers flare. Meanwhile, I miss connecting with them on an intimate, caring level.

Just like golf, we blame everything else. Let’s see, I’ve blamed the clubs, the turf, the ball, the lie, the weather, the grip and the course. There is a common denominator: me!

When we focus on everything other than the grace and love of Jesus Christ, we are bound to get in some sort of trouble. The sand traps of life are hard to miss when our heads are looking all around.

We all have some form of attention deficit disorder. Thank you, Jesus, that our faith is not dependent on us. Instead, our faith is made whole by the one who kept his focus as he journeyed to the cross.

Our hope is indeed Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. I just wonder one thing: Can Jesus hit a 1-iron? I can’t, even with my head down.

 

John Ring is minister of family counseling and community outreach at Grace Coastal Church in Okatie.