One advantage of being in a different city each week is that I get to play golf with a lot people. I love golf. It's like business. You work hard to get to the green and you wind up in the hole. It's actually a great game for pastors. You can put the name of a cantankerous member on the ball. It will change your attitude. When you hit it in the water, you just say, "Drown, you rascal." If you can't find it in the woods, you just say, "I hope nobody finds you." I'm just kidding. Golf is cheaper than Prozac.
Sometimes I'm asked to play with people that I don't know. Last week I played with a guy that missed the ball on his first swing. He stepped back, stepped up to the ball, swung, and missed it again. He put his club down, and I said, "Don't quit now — you have a no-hitter going."
I often golf with a guy who plays pretty badly. He throws his clubs and says things like "this is a dumb," "stupid game," and then uses other words in his vocabulary. He doesn't say "Hoover." He says the other word. His pastor, knowing that I'm a psychologist, will ask if we can help him. I reply that we can drop all of his balls in the water. The pastor asks what good that will do, and I say, "It will save a lot of time." Or maybe we can regrip his clubs with Ritalin; maybe that will calm him down. He doesn't need help with his emotions. He has some of the best emotions I have ever seen. I will put his frustration and anger up against anyone's. This man does not need emotional management skills. What he needs is a golf lesson. And what I need is a helmet because golf is becoming a contact sport.
This reminds me of clients I had when I was still counseling. They want to treat the symptoms rather than look deeper to see that their out-of-control living is causing their out-of-control emotions. Some clients would say that their life wasn't worth living, and I would have to bite my tongue to keep from agreeing they were right — their life wasn't worth living. Many people would tell me that they just needed a little more time to get it together. I've had the opportunity to play golf with the same man over a period of years. Guess what, time didn't help. He was just as frustrated and angry this year as he was last year. He didn't need more time; he needed a lesson. He needed direction, not time.
Let's say that you compete in the national Snickers contest which means that you could win $1,000,000. All you have to do is find the hidden Snickers bar with your name on it. The bar is in New Mexico and you live in Florida. You have twenty-four hours to find it — Go! You are now in New Mexico and frantic. You receive a call from Snickers headquarters asking you what you need: more time or the address where the Snickers bar is located. You don't need more time, you need direction. As a matter of fact, they can triple your time and it won't help. What you need is direction.
The wrong direction in golf is the rough. When in the rough, we usually need another person to help us think objectively so we can get out quickly. I can't tell you how many times I've played with a guy that is in the rough and he decides to go for the green. He is going to hit this ball between twenty-five trees and 1,000 limbs and end up on the green. This is the same guy who just missed a thirty-yard-wide fairway on the previous shot. The problem is he's like most of us; he would rather hope for a miracle than take his medicine and chip onto the fairway.
A year has passed and let's be honest. Many of us are just as angry and frustrated as we were last year or the year before. Why don't you take a lesson? Talk to a counselor or a friend. Find someone who is objective and can help you understand how you ended up in the rough of life rather than the fairway.
A Catholic priest and a pastor were watching the last green of a championship tournament. The player made the sign of the cross before putting. The pastor asked the priest if that would help the golfer. The priest replied that it wouldn't help anything if he couldn't putt.
Harvey Penick told golfers to take dead aim. You can't take dead aim if you don't know what direction you're going. This year, let's take dead aim and I'll bet we will be surprised how far our life can go in the fairway.