How Do You Deal With Adversity?

Steven Fox’s breaking putt trickled down a slippery slope on the 37th hole of the 2012 U.S. Amateur championship and dropped into the cup, capping an amazing – and improbable – three weeks of golf.

YouTube Preview Image

Fox, a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga student at the time and a Hendersonville High School graduate, just made it through the qualifier before heading to Cherry Hills (Colorado) Country Club. He opened with a marginal two-round performance that sent him to a 17-man playoff to make it through to the next round where he secured the No. 63 seed. He began working his way through match play, beating some of the top amateur players in the world to eventually win on the extra hole. He became the lowest-seeded player to ever win the U.S. Amateur since the USGA began seeding stroke-play qualifying in 1985.

His goal was just to make it to match play but he persevered and made history.

I love the definition of persevere: “Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition.” Fox kept pressing forward to the final goal. What a long shot, but he did it!

What about you? Are you content to just play out the holes of your life because you have setbacks? True, adversity can be a momentum killer. Fear sets in and you become reluctant to be courageous and take risks. The easiest thing to do is to do nothing, so you become passive..

Perseverance, however, is the opposite of passivity. It is active. It means even if you have no paddle you are fighting for all your worth to get upstream.

In Matthew 24 Jesus is teaching the disciples about the adversity of last days and he tells them, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (v. 13). It is obvious that the expectation of God for His children is that they persevere. In fact, the books of Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, Hebrews, James and 1 Peter all make clear that: A) If you are in Christ you will face adversity, and B) persevering through adversity is actually a reassurance that you are a child of God.

Don’t let adversity be the sand bunker in your life that causes you to back away from the love of Christ. Embrace it, and experience that love in a profound and real way. It will carry you through the adversity and to the end.

 

Play To Your Strengths

I have been playing this great game for 46 years as my Dad introduced me to it on April 12, 1969 on my 8th birthday. My first solid 7 iron was a little draw and it is still my go to shot. Dog leg lefts are definitely my friends.

I have had to learn that one of the keys to playing golf at a high level is the ability to eliminate one side of the course or the other. It must be in the name as Tom Lehman hits a draw and is able to eliminate the right side of the course. Jack Nicklaus was able to eliminate the left side of the course as he played his patented fade.

In most cases, I am teeing up the ball on the left side of the tee box to give me the best angle to take it down the right side of the fairway and allow my natural draw come back to the middle. What is your natural trajectory?

In life, we must also play to our strengths.

IMG_4667

I love what my 85 yr. old mentor, Mr. Countryman shares with Back 9 men, “whether you are 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80, you are entering into the best decade of your life.” He goes on to tell guys that they should now know what they are good at and it is a season to perfect this God-given gift.

Jack and I had lunch with a guy that had just turned 60 and as Jack spoke into this man’s life by telling him that he will do more for the Lord in the next 10 years that he did his first 60 years. You should have seen how this man’s chest puffed up as he knew that he knew that he knew Jack was right as he had honed his skills of aligning the right companies to the right sponsorship opportunities to get the most bang for the buck.

For many of you that is making money. This next statement may go against the grain of what you have been told especially if you have been sold a bag of lies that you need to sell your business and go live in a thatched roof hut and share the Gospel in 3rd world countries. Are you kidding me? Come on! If you have the gift of doing deals, then go make another deal and seed into the work of the Lord to build His Kingdom and not your own Castle.  Be sure to align to a cause that deeply impacts your heart.

There is a great little book called Kings and Priests by David High. In a nutshell it talks about some of us are called to Preach and share the Good News on a full time basis, The Priests. The Kings on the other hand are to be the fuel to keep the Priests tanks filled as it still takes money to drive the message of Christ across this great land.

I hope this helps you play to your strengths…on and off the course.

How Precise is Your Life?

Golfers today don’t fully understand how well they’ve got it.

 

Years ago, before driving ranges became full service ranges, golfers had to supply their own range balls and retrieve them. Needless to say, spraying balls all over could get quite costly. That’s why golfers like Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan used to have a caddy stand down range and shag balls like they were fielding pop flies. Ernest “Creamy” Carolan caddied for both at different times. He carried a baseball glove with him to the range and fielded balls. This “target” not only required Palmer and Hogan to become extremely precise with their ball striking, it enabled them to dial in club yardages. Their goal wasn’t hitting fairways and greens, but hitting specific spots on each. Here is a video clip of Ben Hogan on the range at the 1967 Masters.

YouTube Preview Image

Most average golfers are content to land anywhere in the short grass and are excited to hit the green in regulation. Sure, they may be putting from 40 feet, but at least they aren’t chopping out of the rough or blasting out of a bunker. Most never practice precision golf.

 

Professionals do.

 

Is your Christian life like that? Do you practice “Precision Christianity?” Precision Christianity starts by spending a lot of time in the Bible. The Bible is to life what a yardage book is to a golfer. It gives you a precise measurement of what the Christian life entails. The Bible and your life are inextricably linked. The only way to live a life that hits the mark for the glory of God is to constantly check His yardage book. Without it, at best you are simply hitting shots in the direction of the Christian life. There is no precision there.

 

Time to get honest and ask ourselves, “Am I living my life with such precision that I’m hitting the mark for which God wants me to shoot?” This means allowing the Bible to guide your concentration so that every “shot” you make with your life is landing in the right spot. You don’t have a caddy down range, but to gauge how you’re doing you can ask yourself:

  • How am I treating my friends and my spouse?
  • What kind of threads am I posting on Facebook and Twitter?
  • Do they build people up or tear them down?
  • How am I dealing with people in business?
  • How am I leading myself when no one is looking?

 

No, rule keeping doesn’t mean you’re a Christian, but an honest evaluation of how you’re “performing” can reveal how closely you are living out a Spirit-filled life in accordance with the Bible’s direction.

 

But that kind of Christian life only comes by practicing biblical precision.

 

2 “Major” Lessons I Learned from Speaking at The 2010 Masters Week Golf Breakfast

Five years ago, on April 6, 2010 I had the honor and privilege to speak at The Masters Week Golf Breakfast hosted by FCA of Augusta and held at Warren Baptist Church.  Last year, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink and Dr. Morris Pickens were the keynote speakers. This is a story of “full circle” as the Lord revealed (2) major lessons that I am applying to this day.

Lesson #1: Always Be Prepared to Share Your Story

Many of you know that when I have the opportunity to share my story, I start with the 1997 Masters, the year that I received (4) tickets to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Practice Rounds.  Yes, this was one of those bucket list trips and there was a point as I strolled around Amen Corner I thought that life just can’t get any better than this.  It was a WOW experience.  This was the year that Tiger Woods won by….12 shots!

1997MastersBagTag

Just days later as I returned home to Cedar Rapids, IA I was greeted by my wife of two years and the words that came out of her mouth took me from the mountain top to the depths of the valley as she told me she could no longer stay in our marriage.  My reality was; a broken marriage, a devastating financial picture and living a life of no purpose or meaning.  Can you relate?

That experience rocked my heart and was the catalyst for my personal faith journey which led me to a book called, “In His Grip”, which led me to start reading the Bible which led me to committing my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

For God to open up this opportunity at the 2010 Masters Week Golf Breakfast was one of those full circle stories of restoration and I am humbled to think that this May 27, 2015 Leslie and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage.  Thank you Lord!!!

Lesson #2: Always Share the Good News

Just minutes before walking up front to the 800+ people in attendance, the Senior Pastor of Warren Baptist Church, Dr. David McKinley pulled me aside to pray over me and said, “Scott, go boldly, share your story and share the Gospel, the Good News.”  I love that man!  There is plenty of bad news in this world and as a Christ-follower we are now the bearer of Good News and we need to step up and share it.

The Lord gave me a calm confidence and it was one of the most emotional messages I have ever been a part of.  As I shared about my broken marriage, I look down and there sitting in front of me was Leslie who 13 years earlier was ready to throw in the towel.  I don’t know where you are in your life story but allow me to encourage you that God can and will bring you through the trials that life can bring.  The Bible verse that aided in our season of healing is found in Proverbs, Chapter 3 verses 5-6.

Proverbs-3-5-6-copy-2-copy-1024x731

 

As I brought my story to a close, the Lord prompted me to close with an invitation of the Gospel and 22 people committed and or re-commiteed their lives to the Lord.  To God be the Glory!

 

 

This year I will be again attending the Masters Week Golf Breakfast as I have been asked to do a book signing with my new book, “More Than A Game” that was just released on April 3, 2015, Good Friday.  I pray that you have a Masters-filled week.

 

 

A little over 4 years ago, I prayed that the Lord would provide me with a Godly man who could be my accountability partner and mentor.  A month later I met Scott after church and we hit it off.  Little did I know that the Lord not only provided me with a mentor and accountability partner, but He blessed me with a best friend, a brother, and father-figure all in one.

BrettandScott

Scott has challenged me in so many different areas of my life, such as, becoming a better leader on and off the field, a better husband, father and most importantly to grow in my relationship with Christ. “More than a Game” can and will challenge you in the same way Scott has challenged me. Scott makes connections between his personal experiences and golf stories that captivate and encourage.

We need help along the way from other brothers in Christ; we need encouragement; we need to be challenged and held accountable for things we struggle with.  “More than a game” challenges you in those areas of life.

 

If your lacking passion for Christ, or just feel lost in your relationship with Him, this book will get you back on track with where you need to be with Jesus!  I would encourage men to get together and go through this book and challenge one another to grow in their relationships in Christ!

IMG_3922

 

 

More Than A Game (Nashville: In His Grip Resources, 2015)

Are You A Competitive Christian?

No professional golfer in history has faced greater challenges than did the great Ben Hogan.

Hogan turned pro in 1930, but after a brief stint, had to take a job as a club pro – twice. Ten years later he finally stuck on the tour, only to be swept into WWII with so many other Americans. Once the war ended in 1945, he won 38 tournaments over the next five years. And that’s when everything changed.

Hogan, known for his buttery swing, nearly died in 1949 at age 36 when he and his wife were in a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus. Hogan suffered multiple fractures and life-threatening blood clots. He was in the hospital 59 days and told he could possibly never walk again. Never playing golf again was a foregone conclusion.

But the “experts” underestimated Hogan’s love of the game and his tenacious competitive spirit. Months later he won the U.S. Open. It was his competitive drive and dedicated work ethic that drove him to become one of the greatest golfers of all time. I love this golf tip by Ben:
YouTube Preview Image

How about you? Do you like to compete? Have you ever considered your Christian life to be a competition?

The Apostle Paul sure did. He was stoned in the city of Lystra and left for dead, but Acts 14 says, “He got up and went back into the city.” He wasn’t going to let a good stoning keep him down!

Too often I think people expect Christians to roll over and lay down when challenged. Too often Christians have propagated among themselves that Christianity equals passivity. Unfortunately, that is an extremely poor representation of Jesus and His mission to come into this world and save souls. That mentality also does a disservice to all the saints throughout history who competed for their faith in the face of certain death.

I love this Scripture passage from Revelation 19. “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God…On His robe and on his thigh He has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords. (NIV)

What do you think? Does that sound like a passive Savior, or a competitor who fights for the glory of God?

Life may be a struggle sometimes and may even get the better of you, but I encourage you, by faith in Jesus stand in there and compete knowing that the One called King of kings and Lord of lords has you covered.

Are you a competitive Christian? I would love to hear your thoughts…

In His grip,
Scott

Proper Alignment to Hit Your Target On and Off the Course

Next to the foundation provided by the grip, alignment is considered by many instructors to be the number one fundamental of a good golf shot. Even minor alignment problems can be a problem for players at any ability level. Our mind needs a specific target and our shoulders, hips, and feet need to be in line with that target. This improves our chances of hitting the ball in the intended direction. Even tour professionals practice their alignment and focus on it during a round.

Here is a great tip on alignment from a friend of mine, Mike Bender, swing coach for Zach Johnson.
YouTube Preview Image
Brian Mogg, former PGA tour player and a teacher at the David Leadbetter Schools, refers to Hebrews 12:2 to compare alignment in golf to alignment with Christ. Alignment with God requires aiming your life at Jesus by (1) getting to know Him, and (2) becoming like Him. We get to know Him by spending time with Him in prayer, reading God’s word, and fellowshipping with those with similar beliefs. We can easily get caught up in the do’s and don’ts of religion, but ultimately the best approach is to fix our eyes on Jesus and align our beliefs and actions with Him and God’s word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
John l: 1-4

FINAL SWING THOUGHT:

My life must be aligned with the target of knowing and serving Jesus Christ.

The Grip is the Foundation

Many golf professionals describe the golf grip as the foundation for the golf swing. The grip is the only way our body connects with the clubs, the instruments with which we play the game. The force and finesse produced in the swing must be transmitted to the club by the grip. A proper grip allows the strength and skill of the swing to be imparted to the ball to produce distance and direction. Without a proper grip you will not achieve your potential despite other improvements you make in your equipment and/or swing.

Check out this quick tip by Brian Mogg on the proper grip:
YouTube Preview Image

There is a parallel for life. You are, in a sense, like the golf club. If you let him, God will take hold of your life and provide the direction and power to fulfill his purpose. He can help you find the fairway and show you how to progress on the course of life. He helps those in the Master’s grip avoid the bunkers and deal with adversity. In life you get to choose to accept or reject living in the grip of the Master’s hands. In golf the clubs have no say in the matter.#IHGGolf Glove

Psalm 37:23-24
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

FINAL SWING THOUGHT:

Your grip on the golf club
is the foundation for the golf swing.
God’s grip on your life
is the foundation for your life

Visualize Your Target

Visualizing the target is important in golf and life. Byron Nelson said “One of the most important–and often overlooked–factors in making a good golf swing is visualizing your target beforehand.” Instead of making the ball the target, you get better results when, “The spot where you want your ball to finish is the target, and by being aware of that spot, you give your swing direction.” (“Shape Your Swing the Modern Way”, Golf Digest, 1976, p.74)

What is the target of your life? Bob Buford wrote in Half Time that many men come to the half-time of their life, analyze what happened in the first half, and realize they need a new strategy for the second half. A later book by Buford, Game Plan, is about making plans for the second half by figuring out what is significant in life and setting a course of action to get there.

Significance is based in who I am as a person. Success is based in what I do as a person. Unfortunately, many people realize too late that to achieve significance you have to include it in your target. Otherwise you are likely to aim only at success.

asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him,
bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10

FINAL SWING THOUGHT:

A life of significance is a worthy target.

5 Keys to Hosting a Golf Retreat

FarmLinks Hole #17

I have been playing this great game of golf for over 46 years and have been on my share of golf retreats.  In fact, I am putting finishing touches on our Annual In His Grip Golf Retreat that I host at Farmlinks Golf Club in Sylacauga, AL.  A great course with the amazing Parker Lodge on site.   Experience has revealed a few “best practices” and I would love to share them with you.

1.  Define your Purpose: You may want to talk to your guys first to see what would be their ultimate golf retreat experience.  I am starting to learn that guys want to play A LOT of golf, BUT, they also want some DOWN TIME (a.k.a. fun time).   We always try to use our In His Grip retreats to have a life message in the evening or make it available for certain prayer requests.  Over the past few years this has been a deeply meaningful time for the guys including me.

2.  Date and Location: Most of the golf retreats I have been on are either in the spring or in the fall.  When booking your date and location remember to stay away from course maintenance weeks (punching the greens) and you may want to consider daylight savings time.

3.  Determine Your Budget: Hey, we all have family financial responsibilities and that means that our personal budgets are more sensitive than ever.  Searching the internet for deals is still a great resource and most golf facilities need the business so don’t be afraid to ASK.

4.  Define your Formats Upfront: I like to send out the formats and teams ahead of time.  I also like to switch it up.  For the last few years, our IHG golf retreat has been a Ryder Cup format and the guys love it. We have 20 guys this year and 10 will come home with their individual cup.

5.  Caravan to Build Camaraderie: We always try to have a central meeting point, like our church, and then load up the vehicles so we don’t have anyone driving solo.  It is amazing how many memories are also on the ride to or from the course.

I hope one or two of these keys will help make your next golf retreat experience more memorable.  You may even want to consider a survey from the guys to get their input.  Let me know what some of  your golf retreat experiences have been and what is your favorite golf retreat location and why?

I hope to see you on the course.

Scott