Golf and the Way I Think


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Nothing has challenge the way I think like the game of golf. To be a successful golfer you must be optimistic and confident. That’s is not going to guaranty that you will be successful in every single shot you make; but without optimism and confident you won’t go too far in this sport.

            Dr. Bob Rotella, in his book, Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect, stated, “People by and large become what they think about themselves.” This is not an original thought; it is actually a Biblical principle. In Proverbs 23:7 the Bible tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” New King James Version (NKJV). We truly are what we think. As I work on my swing, club selection, the short game and all of the aspect of golf, I must keep in mind optimism and confidence. This is not a call to endorse arrogance; but a reminder of the power of our own minds; the power of the way we think.

            I am now reading a second book by Dr. Rotella, this one is entitle, The Unstoppable Golfer: Trusting Your Mind & Short Game to Achieve Greatness. Dr. Rotella makes the point that the successful golfer is psychologically strong. He explains that even as golfers do make bad shots; they do not dwell in them. He explains by stating, “Psychological hardiness is, more than anything, a choice. You decide how you are going to think, how you are going to perceive what happens in your life. You may think this is difficult, but it is one of the things that great golfers do. They remember their good shots and their triumphs.”

            I could use brutal force in any other sport; I can get angry and react accordingly and it may help me. That kind of approach does not work in golf. I must get rid of any frustration, anger, fear, insecurity, etc. and visualize greatness at all times. If I don’t, is going to cost me greatly; my shots will be consistently be in the woods or over water. On the other hand, If I do hit my ball deep into the woods or into the water; whatever the situation may be, I must stay cool; look for a way out, recover and move on. The quicker I get those horrible shots out of my mind, the better. I argue that this is a parallel with life itself. The Bible specifically tells us what to think about, Philippians 4:8 tell us,

      Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)

            The Bible encourages us to focus our minds in very specific concepts. As you can see, there is a list in this Bible verse. Our focus should be on 1) the truth. The word True means, “…real, conformed to the nature and reality of things.”[1]I am fully aware that there are many opinions out there; that it seems like the good seems to be judged as bad and the bad seems to be judged as good. Nevertheless, we know the truth. It is that truth that makes us free (John 8:32). We should not focus on the arguments; the distortions of truth or hatred against the truth; our focus should be on truth itself. 2) We must focus on whatever things are honest. The word honest means, “…to worship, venerate. Venerable, reverend… represents not only earthly dignity, but that which is derived from a higher citizenship, a heavenly one, which is the possession of all believers.[2]We must focus on God; what could be more honest? To focus on what is truly honest is an act of worship to God; it is the highest expression of our citizenship as believers. 3) We must focus on what is just; the word Just means, “Righteous, just… that which is right, conformable to right, pertaining to right, that which is just.[3]As believers our focus should be on what is right; in doing the right thing and in trusting God as our judge. God will judge all things and he will give out proper justice. When we focus on injustices we grow frustrated and bitter.

            Paul continues with this list by encouraging us to, 4) focus on whatever is pure. The word Pure refers to what is innocent or blameless. This is indeed hard to do, as we are surrounded by wickedness all around us. However, our minds must raise above all the evil in the world and focus on what is pure and blameless. In golf we must visualize good shots; we must visualize the ball going in, in our minds, we must see ourselves playing well, etc. We should not be focusing on the hazards, the sand bunkers, the water or the woods. There is no limit in our minds; we must spend time closing our eyes and see ourselves doing well. Again that will not guaranty that you will make every shot, but you will make more and more of those. Visualizing yourself doing poorly will indeed manifest in course very, very quickly. 5) We must focus on those things that are lovely. The word lovely means, what “is dear to someone, beloved. In the NT, used of things, acceptable, pleasing.[4]The mind should focus on things that are not only pleasing, but most importantly, acceptable. Focus on the good and not on the bad. It sounds simple, but how many of us have been guilty of focusing on totally unproductive things? 6) We must also focus on those things that are of good report. The word report means, “Well–spoken of, of good report, praiseworthy, laudable.[5]Sadly, in the world we live in today, bad news sells more than good news. Negative talk has become normal amongst us. However, the apostle Paul is telling us to focus on those good things that are happening. As I said before, we should not be dwelling on our bad shots, but on the good ones. Many of us continue to focus too much on our mistake of the past and are unable to focus on the good things God has done in us and through us; we must start doing so.

            Paul also speaks of our need to focus our minds on 7) Virtue, this word means,  “…moral excellency, perfection, goodness of action.[6]With the sharp decline of morals in our society it is extremely difficult to focus on such virtue. However, that is where our minds should be. We should not be conformed to the culture and fall into the mentality that justifies evil in the name of, “everybody else is doing it.” Lastly we must focus our minds and look for what is 8) Worthy of Praise, that is, anything worthy of “Applause, commendation, praise, approbation.”[7]

            When you put this list together and take a close look at it, there is no doubt that Paul wants God’s people to be optimistic; we should be the most optimistic people on earth. Golf is a game that helps us apply these principles as we play against the course’s degree of difficulty and against ourselves. Every course is different; every course has its own challenges and beauty. My newfound love for golf is challenging the way I think because I cannot be successful in golf unless I embrace optimism. Dr. Rotella in his book Golf is not a Game of Perfect states, “The correlation between thinking well and making successful shots is not 100 percent. But the correlation between thinking badly and unsuccessful shots is much higher.” We can say the same thing about the game of life.

[1]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[5]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[6]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[7]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

Golf and Me


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I believe I received my first invitation to play golf when I was a pastor in North Carolina back in 2005. I was not even tempted, not even a little, to start playing this “boring game.” One time I remember one of my brothers in law had a wedge and a golf ball. We all took turns trying to hit that ball; I did not even touch it; that small experience with golf moved my interest for golf even further way. Golf became a little closer to me; every time my father in law came to visit us in Fairbanks; he always came prepared to play golf. Honestly, I could not understand why folks get hook on this game. I went as far as driving my father in law to the golf course and then picking him up later; but that was about to change.

            Precisely, on August 18, 2018 I started playing golf. I was working with a group of teens. That particular day we did not have anything in our agenda. That’s when one of the teens suggested for us to play golf. He had some old clubs; it was a beautiful day, so I said, why not. We went to North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks. We got a bucket of about 30 golf balls for $5.00 and we just started hitting balls. Obviously, we did not know what we were doing!

            This time I was able to hit a few balls with a drive. The feeling of hitting those golf balls caused in me  an instant addiction for golf.  That is all it took! I inquired regarding golf classes. I knew enough to know that as winter was approaching I needed to be working on good techniques and avoid the development of bad habits.  I took a couple of classes with a Hawaiian lady by the name of Bernie. Bernie was the golf teacher at this particular club. She gave me some very important fundamentals. She told me that I needed to practice chipping and pitching twice as much as the drive. I, like may others, love the drive because I love to hit the ball far away. For starters, I spend too much time on that drive; I should have listen to Bernie more. However, she was able to give me a good head start. She also gave me a few wedges to begin to form my set of unmatched clubs. I am grateful for Bernie; she was a very nice lady.

            In Fairbanks we experience very long, cold and dark winters.  The ground gets filled with snow and ice starting at the end of October and it remains that way all the way until about April. As a matter of fact, today we had our first serious snow in Fairbanks; the ground is white and it will remain that way until April or May. That is why the people who are able to leave for the winter do. Bernie was one of those; she was out of here before the snow hit the ground. To make matters worst, North Star Golf Club is now officially for sale. I love the people there; they were truly nice to the kids I brought from Family Centered Services and to me. I made up my mind very early, that I was not going to let obstacles get on the way of my dreams regarding golf. From the very beginning I was determined to be an Amateur Golfer by next summer.

            Play Again Sports is a local sport store in Fairbanks; there they have three indoor Golf Simulators. These golf simulators are very useful as it tells us exactly how we are swinging the club, distance and all. I was able to meet Matt, the owner of the store. As I was swinging the club, he politely volunteered to give me some tips. Every tip was well received and very helpful. In this journey of learning how to play this game I also decided to buy some books that would give me insight into this game I know nothing about. I now want to learn about this sport so I bought a few books. The first book I read was Golf is not a Game of Perfect, by Dr. Bob Rotella. The book is helping me to approach the phycology of the game. I am currently on my second book by the same author, entitle, The Unstoppable Golfer: Trusting Your Mind & Short Game to Achieve Greatness. I am so glad that my golf book collection started with books written by Dr. Rotella. I will be writing about these books and the impact they are causing in my golf game and life, in future articles.

            My wife and I went to New York last week; it was so awesome to see my parents, my sister and my brother. My father in law Raymond also came up; I could not wait to play golf with him and my brother Carlos. I was on a mission to, not only play with my father in law, but also get my brother Carlos hook on this game. Raymond gave me a few pointers and, regarding my brother, I think we can say mission accomplished!

            Matt, owner of Play Again Sports, invited me for a little get together they have on Wednesday where teams of Golf play against each other using the Simulating Golf. We pay $25.00 to get in and the winner team split the money. Obviously, is not about the money; there is not much money to be made; but it is exactly what I needed in order to keep going during the winter. These guys are fun to be around, knowledgeable of the game and well organized. This is a great opportunity to learn and meet some of the golfers in town. I have to tell you that playing that first Wednesday with these guys was one of the most fun times I had since I came to Alaska; can’t wait to go back!

            So far I know that the average golfer in the USA hits 108 strokes. By playing all of the simulating games I have played so far I can say that I am officially a part of the average golfers in America. Judging by my last 5 games, I am a little better than average. Average is not enough for me; this is a game I can play for the next 20 plus years and I will probably dedicate more time than anything else I have done in my life, outside of ministry. I am determined to be an outstanding Senior Amateur Golfer. Golf is improving my quality of life, is challenging me emotionally, physically and even spiritually. I think that golf and me are going to get alone just fine.