FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME

With Alabama’s winter fast approaching, it’s a good idea to get the Heat and air systems checked out before something goes wrong.  It would be a shame to wake up on a cold December morning with no heat.  So I called-up Brown Heating and Cooling.  You can find them online at www.brownheatingandcooling.com.  So Brown’s maintenance technician came out and checked our system.  We got to talking and he turned-out to be and avid golfer.  What a coincidence!  I play golf and was anxious to show-off my new nine-iron.  So we’re standing in the middle of the living room, taking practice swings and critiquing one-another’s technique.  We were having a great time until…my wife came home.  

There’s something two men bonding over a golf club in a living room that a wife just can’t stand.  It must be all the swinging.  At least, that’s what she said. Something about accidentally smashing a lamp or something.  So, she threw us both out of the house where we made arrangements to play at a local course.  

We went to Bent Brook over on Dickey Springs Road in Bessemer.  It’s a working-man’s course where you don’t go broke on greens fees.  It’s open to the public and adjacent to the Bent Brook subdivision.  My new friend, Russell lives there and it’s a nice place.  We tee’d-up and went to swinging.  

Russell invited a couple of guys he knows and I got to know them while we played.  We all played at different levels. None of are pro’s by any stretch, but we play for the love of the game.  

There’s something else.  Guys like us play for the camaraderie.  Nothing brings out the best in a man like good old-fashioned competition.  It’s a distraction from the job, family, responsibilities, and anything else that causes stress. Life is challenging and so is playing golf.  But it’s a challenge we choose instead of having it thrust upon us.  It gives us a feeling of being in control and men love being in control.  Win or lose, at the end of the day we all had a good time, man-style.  What’s  important is that I made three new friends.  We’re playing again next weekend.

DONALD TRUMP LOVES GOLF

I’ve known a lot of golfers in my life.  It’s a universal man’s game.  You just never know who plays by looking at him.  Some people think golf is a rich man’s game, but that’s not true.   There are clubs where you can play and not break your bank.  Of course, there are courses where the green-fees are pretty steep.  You have to have some money to play and some riches to fit-in with the players.  And everybody knows, Donald Trump plays golf.

There are eighteen Trump courses world-wide.  There are three in Florida, three in New York, two in New Jersey, two in Philadelphia, one in North Carolina, one in Washington D.C. and one in California.  In addition, there are courses overseas: two in Dubai, one in Ireland, and two courses in the country where the game originated, Scotland.

“The Donald” has played them all of course.  Perhaps, his love of golf comes from his wealth and success.  Or maybe he is attracted to the game because of his mother, who was from Scotland.  But I think it’s his love of sports that makes him want to play.  Mr. Trump played baseball when he was young and has loved sports all his life.  He admitted in a recent interview that as an older man, he doesn’t play the more physical sports and golf is more to his liking now.

There was something else and it’s important.  A golf course is a great place to create and cultivate relationships.  You can tell a lot about a man’s character by how he wins and loses.  Does he win with grace and lose with humility?  Does a winner gloat or thank his opponents for a great game?  Does a loser congratulate or throw a fit?  Trump said a golf course is a great place to make deals.  As president, he’ll host world leaders on the golf course and negotiate for the American people.  He’ll invite congressman and senators for a round and ask for their support on issues that benefit all Americans.  And the fact that he owns a golf course in Washington, D.C. is real convenient for everybody.

A golf course: Where Donald Trump will make America great again.

PREACHERS LOVE GOLF

While at a leadership conference at my church, I was invited by my pastor to lunch with a group of his friends. Preachers hang-out with other preachers and when this happens, the topic of conversation often turns to golf.

Preachers love the game of golf.  I don’t know why, but they often tell jokes about from the their pulpits and weave stories of it into their sermons.  On a Saturday afternoon, you will find a group of pastors and their guests on the golf course.  My pastor, noticing that I was not participating in the discussion, asked my opinion about a certain driver.  “I couldn’t tell you Pastor, I’m not a golfer” I responded.  His reaction was one of surprise, “You don’t play?”  How can you be in ministry when you don’t play golf?” he asked.  “Is required?” I asked amid the chuckles of the other pastors.  “Well, yes it’s required!” he almost shouted, “A lot of ministry takes place on the golf course.  You’ll just have to come golfing with us this Saturday Brother Matthew!”

So the following Saturday, there I was on the Green with a whole group of preachers.  For a ministry team-leader and aspiring preacher myself, I was a little intimidated.

“Here,” Pastor Danny said, handing me a golf bag, “I’ll let you borrow my old clubs.  I’ll coach you on which ones to use.  You’ll do great!”  Looking around at the smiles on the other preachers faces, I knew I was only there for laughs. I didn’t say it out loud, but my first thought was, “Holy shit!”

Nervous, I tee’d-up looked down the fairway and let it rip.  Next came a concoughany of laughter.  I couldn’t see where the ball went.  Looking down, I found the ball still resting on the tee.  “Try keeping your eye on the ball,” Pastor volunteered.  “Swing smoothly and follow-through.  

Needless to say, my first golf lesson was a bust.  We did have a good time in the clubhouse though, even though I was the blunt of their good-natured jokes.  I realized that day that I was accepted and that preachers can really have some good, clean fun.

I’m going back.

MY MOTHER HATED GOLF

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When I was a kid, we would often go to my grandparent’s home for Sunday dinner.  Life was different back then. There were fewer distractions then there are now.  No individual devices to peer into, no social media and only one channel in our country home.  

A common distraction among many was the game of golf.  Nobody in my blue-collar family played the game.  My dad’s hobby was gardening, so he rarely left to do anything else.   I grew up spending my summers enduring my dad’s mind-numbing hobby of weed-pulling.  On rainy days, we stayed in to watch TV and often the only thing that was on  were Golf tournaments.  Equally mind-numbing.

So, one weekend day, while driving home from Grandma’s, we passed a golf course.  I always looked at the golfers while we passed by, wondering about the game, and I asked a question.  

Suddenly, my dad launched into professor mode and began explaining the game of golf in intricate detail.  He covered the terms, “par” and “birdie” and pontificated about the scoring process, how the swing of the club was a “stroke” and to win you needed to play all the holes with the fewest strokes possible.  As he launched into an explanation of the different kinds of clubs used, my mother interrupted.  “George!  Are you going to spend all day explaining this game to him?”  She was clearly aggravated.  “Well, he asked a question about the game, Martha.  I was just explaining it to him.”  “Yea, well you don’t have to go on and on about it.” Her aggravation was mounting.   “I don’t see what’s the big deal,” my dad defended, “Why are you so offended that I’m answering the boy’s question?” “I’m just tired of hearing about it.  Of all games to lecture on, why does it have to be GOLF?!”  Her annoyance was reaching fever pitch.  My dad knew when to quit and relented.

Clearly, my mom didn’t understand the game and didn’t want to.  What I didn’t realize was that before my dad took up family-life with all the responsibilities and began gardening, he must have been a golfer.  I knew better than to ask and he never brought it up again.