News Articles

Even a tee, Baptist golfers told, can help nudge someone to faith

HOWIE-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. (BP)–Tackling the course in the fierce summer heat, 120 Baptist men swung their way through the 18-hole Florida Baptist Open at Mission Inn Country Club.
The three-year-old tournament has become a hit, said Fritz Wilson, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’ s men’ s department.
“ We have 30 foursomes,” Wilson said. “ We fill up every year.
“ We have a mission emphasis,” he added. “ This year it’ s how to use golf as a ministry.”
That emphasis brought Billy Hutchinson, executive director of Christian Golfers Ministry Inc., to Lake Yale Baptist Assembly, Leesburg, for a dinner the evening before the late-July tournament at the Howie-in-the-Hills golf course.
At the dinner, Hutchinson told the Florida Baptist men how finding a tiny message of God’ s love on a golf tee brought one teenager to know Christ.
Hutchinson had simply left a golf tee with the message, “ Christian Golfers God offers love, forgiveness, eternal redemption,” at the tee during a game in North Carolina.
“ This grown man, about 16, came up to me and said, ‘ Hey Mister, are you the one who left this tee? For six months, I’ ve been trying to find out how to ask Jesus to come into my heart.’
“ I shared with him,” said Hutchinson, of Oak Island, N.C. “ Today that man’ s bound for heaven.”
Using golf as a ministry has become a passion that Hutchinson shares with others in the Southeast. He encouraged the Baptist men to lead their churches into specific ministries for golfers, such as holding an Easter sunrise service on the course or leading a morning devotional and prayer at the first hole.
“ Country clubs and golf courses are always looking for events,” Hutchinson said. “ Take your church hayride to the country club.”
Other ways a church can minister to those who frequent the golf course is by putting a prayer request box in the lobby. Hutchinson said one pastor did that and picked up 300 requests dropped in the box over a three-week period.
Another way a church can minister on the course is by asking to utilize some of the unused space in the pro shop for meetings of divorce recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous or Bible study groups. A group of people involved in such a meeting can become a “ satellite” of a church, Hutchinson noted.
Hutchinson said people sometimes don’ t realize that those who have enough money to frequent the golf course don’ t necessarily have everything they need in life.
“ There is not a poorer man on the face of the earth than a man with all the wealth in the world who doesn’ t know Jesus,” Hutchinson told the Baptist men. “ Every time you play the game, make a conscious effort to live a Christlike life on the golf course and share him. Whatever we do, it’ s got to make a difference.”

    About the Author

  • Polly J. Haines