Sunday, July 13, 2014

Freedom in Sports....

A friend who does not play golf recently asked me "what do you talk about for four hours?" I smiled and said, "well, everything. But really, you just end up talking a lot about golf." And I find that incredibly liberating.
I can guarantee they're not talking about Benghazi

It's funny, but one of the great joys I find in sports is freedom. Freedom from the multi-tasker in me who aims to check 3-5 things off my list at the expense what I am supposed to be doing. When engaged in an athletic activity, the only thing I have to think about the next shot or how to recover from the past mistake. I also relish the freedom from having to offer my opinion on controversial topics like gay marriage or what we pay professional athletes, the plight of being single in San Francisco or family matters. No, when I play golf, I get to talk about how many yards I am from the green, what club I should use and how beautiful the area around me might be.

Each sport can lend itself to its own nuanced conversation. For many teams sports, athletes inevitably discuss how to execute a play or read a defense. As a rower, I know we were constantly rapping about how to improve the set of the boat. Runners discuss pace and food. Insert your own sport and dialogue here. As a golfer however, one thing I had never considered talking about is a passage of Scripture. Thanks to my man Bubba Watson, a devout "Christian, husband, daddy and pro golfer" (@BubbaWatson, Twitter), I learned about a new spiritual discipline.

Love following this guy on the PGA & Twitter
Watson is good friends with Webb Simpson, winner of the 2012 US Open and a fellow Christian. From "Bubba Watson TV," I learned that before Simpson plays a round, he writes one passage from the Bible in his yardage book and reflects on it between shots. He shares this passage with his caddy and the two of them break open its meaning and how it relates to their lives.

Simpson said, "We share what we read, what we learned from that passage and what God's teaching me through the Word." He added, "it's good to talk about other things that just golf out there. We're together for five hours!"

The structure of golf may lend itself to this spiritual exercise. With its frequent interruptions and the fact that both parties are looking off into the distance, golf may make it easier for people to open up about their faith and how God is speaking to each one of us.

Also, that yardage book can also serve as a diary of sorts. Simpson knows exactly what passage of scripture he played with during the final round of the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Simpson carried 2 Corinthians 12:9 in his heart. 
It says:  
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Simpson said "I was so nervous and I felt very weak on that back nine, but God was with me. I didn't pray to win. I re-read it many times that day asking that I'd feel God's presence and peace. I still look at that entry from time to time."
Ryder Cup...coming this Fall. Watson & Simpson teammates and friends.
It might be hard to dive in and ask the next person I play a round with to share a Bible verse, but I know they're on to something there. 

I hope that my next coaching venture will be as a golf coach and I would relish the opportunity to expose young people to this exercise. It might be fun to see who takes to it...who carries it with them on the course...and who makes this their own...inviting family members and friends to pray as they golf. 

Praying on the golf course might offer an unexpected freedom; one that makes me think I should give this a shot...

Photo Credits
Bubba and Webb talk about golf

Twitter Profile Pic

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