Why Didn’t You Watch The 2017 Masters? (It’s A Golf Tournament)

garcia-win

I watch the Masters every year. Well, at least some of it, every year; it’s a tradition for me. So many lessons can be drawn from the game of golf in general, and from the Masters Golf Tournament in specific, that time would fail to detail them all here, but here are a few tidbits.

First, golf is like life and life is like golf. In this tournament and many others like it, you play the same 18 holes each day four days in a row. It sounds monotonous because it is. Life is a combination of proper, principled, daily practices; taken apart or put together they all can be just as monotonous too, but it’s the consistency of living well day in and day out that wins the day.

Second, in golf, the lowest score wins; i.e., you try to make the fewest mistakes and make the most aggressive moves without landing in the rough or plunking into the water. I can certainly relate to that.

Third, in life, you try to live with consistency and accuracy. There are times to drive long and hard, and there are other times to walk lightly and speak softly. Try as I may, when I play golf I try to hit that little white ball really hard and send it very far. But then other times I need not try so hard or to go so far. The tee shot requires you to drive the ball a long way. Conversely, the closer you get to the green and the cup, you need to slow your roll and putt that same little white ball very softly and very slowly into the hole.

I love golf and I love the Masters even more. I can’t play worth I lick, but when I get out on the green and actually drive the ball in the direction I intended it to go, I’m like a kid in a candy shop.

Charlie Hoffman and Sergio Garcia were at the top of the leader board and led the tournament and both looked as if they had the victory in the bag. But not so fast; Hoffman found the water on Saturday afternoon and sunk out of sight. Garcia led at the end of the day yesterday, but today he bogeyed on 10 AND 11 and fell out of a tie for first.

In golf it’s you vs. the field. The field is the competition around you and the grassy greens beneath you that stand between you and the victor’s cup. You have no backup to call in; you can’t call time out or take a break; and you can’t take plays off and it not come back to bite you in the butt. It’s all on you, and all eyes are on you. It’s takes mental toughness and physical acumen and a boatload of gumption and determination too.

Yes you have the roar of the crowd when life is a banquet and you birdie, but you also get the silent treatment when you bumble and bogey. That’s why I love golf. You have to learn how to navigate the ups and the downs, the ins and the outs, the highs and the lows, and the sometimes messy, and other times merry stuff in between.

This year’s Masters Golf Tournament was so thrilling, so riveting, and so captivating that I even got my wife to watch. How’s that for a happy marriage!?

And what about the happy outcome:

Sergio Garcia did it! After trying and striving for years, Sergio won in a playoff against his longtime friend Justin Rose. It was one of the best Masters finishes ever, going into OT; yes, it took extra innings for Sergio, the fan favorite this year, to win his first major at his 74th attempt. The joyful and gleeful golfer became the third Spaniard to win the Masters on what would have been his idol, Seve Ballesteros’, 60th birthday.

Gargia Wins Masters

Congrats Sergio!

I’ll Take An Arnold Palmer

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The combination of iced tea and lemonade is known as an “Arnold Palmer.” It’s a tasty blend of sweet and sour and soft and sharp and tart and tangy. And many who don’t like one or the other will like them both combined. It’s like having the best of both. 

“Think about it,” one sports writer said. “You don’t order a ‘Tiger Woods’ or a ‘Jack Nicklaus’ at the bar. You can go up there and order an ‘Arnold Palmer’ in this country — and every waiter and waitress know what the drink is. That’s being in a league of your own.”

Palmer was born Sept. 10, 1929, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His father, Deacon, became the greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club in 1921 and the club pro in 1933.

Palmer joined the PGA Tour in 1955 and won the Canadian Open for the first of his 62 titles. He went on to win four green jackets at Augusta National, along with the British Open in 1961 and 1962 and the U.S. Open in 1960, perhaps the most memorable of his seven majors because it defined his style. You could never count him out.

.Arnold Palmer charged across the golf course and into America’s living rooms with a go-for-broke style that made a country club sport popular for the everyman. At ease with presidents and the public, he was on a first-name basis with both.  Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.

President Barack Obama tweeted about Palmer’s death, saying: “Here’s to The King who was as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others. Thanks for the memories, Arnold.”

Palmer ranked among the most important figures in golf history, and it went well beyond his seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins. His good looks, devilish grin and hard-charging style of play made the elite sport appealing to one and all. And it helped that he arrived about the same time as television moved into most households, a perfect fit that sent golf to unprecedented popularity.

“And that’s why he’s the king.” On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it. Palmer never liked being referred to as “The King,” but the name stuck.

Palmer went head to head with Nicklaus two years later in a U.S. Open, the start of one of golf’s most famous rivalries. It was one-sided. Nicklaus went on to win 18 majors and was regarded as golf’s greatest champion. Palmer won two more majors after that loss, and his last PGA Tour win came in 1973 at the Bob Hope Classic.

 Golf writer Tom Callahan once described the difference between Nicklaus and Palmer this way:

It’s as though God said to Nicklaus, “You will have skills like no other,” then whispered to Palmer, “But they will love you more.”

“I’m not interested in being a hero,” Palmer said, implying that too much was made about his return from cancer. “I just want to play some golf.”  https://www.yahoo.com/news/arnold-palmer-dies-87-made-golf-popular-masses-012931638–spt.html 

And if we compare the game of golf to living life, then we all should just want to live a good one.

The Goofy Game of Golf

Jordan Spieth Swing
Some say that golf is silly and senseless and trivial and trifling and seductive and instructive and a tease and a taunt all rolled up into one, small, white, rubber band of a ball. And such is life.

Golf has some goofy stuff.  Golf has birdies and bogeys, eagles and playing even, irons and Tiger Woods, back greens and Bermuda Grasses. Golf has drivers and putters, the Back Nine and backspin, hooks and holes, strokes and sand traps. In Golf you have Tee shots and short games, bunkers and bad bounces, keeping pace and making par. And it’s all up and down and through and through from the first Tee to the final put.

In golf, you start near the end; the 18th green is nigh near the 1st Tee. In golf, you hope for the best but have to brace for the worst. In golf, you aim for the green but could end up all wet in the water. In golf, you have to push past bad breaks and be moderate after great makes. And if it sounds like I’m describing my life and not the game of golf, I am. I love golf, but most times I’m not real good at it; and I certainly love life, but sometimes I’m not quite good at it.

Golf is like life. It never ceases to amaze and yet is forever afire and ablaze. Golf is like life because it startles and surprises, delights and dismays, disappoints and displays the wonders of God’s love and grace. Golf can astonish and astound, stun and stagger, and shock and shudder you to your very core. Or is that what we say about life? Golf is full of joy and gladness, sunniness and sadness, amazement and fulfillment and everything else in between.

In golf and in life, you have to have hope and fight the good fight of faith and love in spite of loss in order to lay hold on the prize.  In golf and in life, prolific players have missed chip shots, and unsung and unheard of players have hit a hole in one. And there’s no rhyme or reason between the two.

The Masters - Final Round

So here’s to the 2015 Masters Golf Tournament Champion, Jordan Spieth, a 21 year old who tied Tiger’s Record and finished at -18, and at one point set the all-time course record of -19. And he’s only a kid. That’s right; he’s young enough to know how good he is but not quite old enough to know how good he’s got it. He was only three years old when Tiger won at 21 in 1997. And so we have another “Jordan” who could be another prodigy.

Golf is like life and life is like golf. It can be goofy and gaffy, rational and reasonable, predictable and implausible all at once at the same time. When placed next to life, it’s amazing how playing the secular game of golf can be a sacred thing. And some, a small, slight some, realize how similar playing golf and living life really are.

The Master’s Golf Tournament 2015: Just Who Is Jordan Spieth?

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For starters, he’s a twenty-one year old “kid” who is mastering the masters. Yes folks, the millennials have come of age and they’re come around and they’ve come to stay. I recently wrote about “kids” — not baby goats, but young professionals https://godandsports.net/2015/04/06/kids-these-days/ – and it seems that every time I turn around, the kids have something to say and something to prove. It seems that in any profession and in every sport, from college basketball to professional golf, the kids have not just come, but they’ve “come to.”

Jordan Spieth is making the 2015 Masters look easy. The 21-year-old budding superstar, who finished tied for second at Augusta last year, is on a historic pace after two rounds. He shot a six-under 66 on Friday to move his overall score to 14 under par. Fourteen under par! That’s ridiculous! That’s like leading by fifty,  five minutes into the game. A football game.

But’s it’s not over. It’s only halftime, and we’ve got a lot of golf to go. By comparison, On April 13, 1997, Tiger Woods was also 21 when he won his first major tournament, not coincidentally the Masters at Augusta National in Georgia. Woods’ 72-hole score, an amazing 18-under-par 270, was the lowest in the tournament history and shattered a record of 271 shared by Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd.

By comparison, in this years tournament, Phil Michelson is at -6 and Tiger, who is certainly thankful he even made the cut, is at -2. But Spieth is at -14?! Wait! What!?  . . . Whew!

Let’s hang on till Sunday to see if the “kid” can come to close out the deal.