I sometimes chuckle when I talk to people who don’t know a lot about golf. They wonder how touring pros can walk those long courses four days in a row and it not affect their game by Sunday afternoon. It’s humorous because most of those guys would probably see those four rounds as light workout days!
Most of today’s players workout before or after a round, but it is the rest of the week and during the offseason where the work gets done. It’s not uncommon for a touring pro to put in 12 hours a day working on conditioning, ball striking, putting, chipping and sand play, and then get in a round (to integrate what they’ve learned).
They work…hard, and that’s what the Bible calls us to. “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23; NIV). I look at men like my dad and grandfather and a distinguishable trait of their character is that they worked hard. They didn’t lament what they didn’t have, or came up with excuses for why they couldn’t do something. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
God intends His people to labor with a purpose. “Commit your plans to the Lord and then they will succeed,” (Proverbs 16:3; NIV). Let’s make sure we get our alignment right on this verse. We don’t make plans, ask God to bless them, then get bent out of shape when things don’t go as we intended. Our alignment is correct when we submit our lives to God, seek first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) and allow Him to define our plans.
Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived. He faced the greatest challenge known to man – our separation from God by our sin. He labored hard throughout His life to glorify God in all he did. He deserved better than what He got at the cross, but He took it on knowing the joy that would echo through eternity for millions of people because of the selfless work He accomplished.
How about you? Would you come to someone’s mind if they were asked to name the most industrious people they know? Is laboring well becoming a mark of your character?
I absolutely love this time of year and realize that the spring season is the time to get out and prepare the fields for the fall harvest. We just need to make sure we are laboring toward the right goals in life. What are you working hard toward? Climbing the corporate ladder? Make sure it is leaned against the right wall.
The golf swing only lasts a few seconds. Think about it: from the time the ball is placed on the tee until it is launched down the fairway takes very little time. Most golfers spend the majority of a round walking or riding to their next shots.
But think how complicated those few seconds are, and the fact that they determine everything. You can focus on dozens of little pieces if you break the swing down: ball height, grip, grip pressure, club selection, club angle, stance and much more. Often, golfers obsess about one aspect of their swing and work incessantly on it. Where they fail is in not seeing the bigger picture and how that element fits with their overall swing. The point is not to have a better grip per se, it is to land the ball where you want it for a better score.
Our lives can often be like that. We get so focused on our current circumstance that we lose perspective of life. Maybe we face unemployment, divorce, illness or something else that absorbs our full attention. Time passes and we develop tunnel vision. Often we feel trapped and hopeless, like our lives are in a free fall and not connected to anything. We may even blame God for the “mess” we’re in.
What we need is a change of perspective, to stop looking at the parts of our lives and see them in the context of the whole. The Bible says, “[Jesus] made the things we can see and the things we can’t see…Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:16-17; NLT).
This is great news! If our lives are connected to Jesus by faith, then we are connected to the very One who holds this crazy world and everything that happens in it – and to us – together! There’s hope in that, knowing that the challenges we face have meaning, and lead to His glory and for our benefit.
Only in hindsight do we see the end result of the segment of life we are dealing with now, but Jesus not only knows in advance, He is holding it together for you and directing it toward His intended goal. Trust in His perspective and not yours.
In the summer of 2005 I received one of those phone calls where you have to pinch yourself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. The call from the VP at Promise Keepers went something like this; “hey Scott, I wanted to see if these dates are open in September as we are hosting 40 key donors for a 3 day golf retreat and would like you to lead us each morning in a short devotional on golf & life and also have you on the range for any quick tips that you can give to the guys.”
Well, I knew that PK was based in Denver and thought that sounded like a fun experience to be a part of as those fall dates were open on my calendar. My response was, “it would be a privilege to serve you and your mighty men of God.” Well, the words that came through the phone just about sent me backwards with a Olympic-style landing when I heard; “that’s great Scott, we will cover all of your expenses and give you an honorarium for your time. I will actually need you to fly to San Francisco since the retreat is being held at “The Lodge” at Pebble Beach. We will be playing The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass and Pebble on the final day.”
After pulling off a triple back flip with a twist I composed myself to ask him to please walk me through the agenda as drool was pouring off my chin. I don’t really remember anything else but his last statement was, “oh by the way, you are more than welcome to invite a guest and we will take care of his expenses also.” Oh my…any guesses of who I asked to join me? First person to comment with the correct answer will receive a FREE In His Grip hat.
I look forward to sitting back this weekend and watching the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-AM. How about you?
In His grip,
One year ago, Leslie and I embarked upon the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show with a plan to find a few new vendors for IHG Golf. One of our main objectives was to find an apparel company that would be able to supply our needs for all of the demands of guys wanting to wear the IHG branded polos and pullovers.
We marched from one big company to another all with the same results. Nothing! Each door we walked into seemed to shut quickly for one reason or another. It just wasn’t a fit. We found ourselves in the middle of a 1,000,000 square foot building filled with 40,000+ golfers and 1,000+ golf companies feeling a bit overwhelmed and frustrated to say the least. I remember saying underneath my breath, “come on God, we could use a little help here.”
A few minutes later I looked up and saw the PING Apparel booth and said, “honey, let’s go check them out.” As I walked up to the booth, a gentleman looked at my badge and asked, “is that a Christian organization?” I immediately said, “yes sir, our mission is to introduce men to Jesus Christ through the game of golf.” This same guy then asked a very simple but direct question…”why are you here”? I told him that one of our key objectives of the show was to find an official apparel company for our In His Grip Golf organization. He quickly answered, “you found it”. I chuckled and said that I would really need to talk to the decision maker and as he turned around his badge, it read Vice President of PING Apparel. He again quickly answered, “I am he.”
That divine appointment spawned an amazing relationship with PING as a few weeks later I found myself flying to Phoenix to go through a personal fitting with PING and had the opportunity to tour their incredible factory where all of their clubs are assembled. Each of the employees I came in contact with had a sense of joy and there was this sense of community that was almost family-like. Truly amazing!
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
I have had the opportunity to support many great golf companies over my 45+ years of playing this great game but I am beyond excited to share with you that I have been adopted into the PING Family and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship. I love their tagline:
“Play Your Best”
Be on the lookout this spring for new IHG Golf Gear Powered by PING Apparel.
I look forward to strolling the fairways of life with you.
In His grip, Scott
Last year as this time I drove to the Mickey Mouse Mecca a.k.a. Orlando and arrived Sunday battling the flu bug the whole way down. I woke up Monday morning in the fetal position not knowing if I could even get out of bed. By noon, I was feeling a bit better and wanted to do ONE thing to be productive. I decided to drive out to Bay Hill Golf Club to buy a few items for our IHG Celebrity Invitational golf tournament. I said a quick prayer of..”and Lord, if there is any way you could introduce me to Arnie, I would greatly appreciate it.
Well, as I was heading to the Pro Shop counter to buy a few BH flags and hats, a gentleman walked in to announce that Mr. Palmer was heading to the first tee. What??? Are you kidding me? I grabbed one of the flags and went walking out the door…ok, I sprinted out the door and sure enough, there was the king of golf sitting in his golf cart getting ready to tee it up. I don’t recall everything that I blurted out of my mouth but I was able to share the IHG Celebrity Inv event with him and ask for his autograph and of course a picture. Mr. Palmer was most accommodating and then he was off to the 1st tee. I went back into the Pro Shop to pay for the stolen items and must admit that I was kind of numb from this amazing experience. As I walked back to the IHG rig I asked the Lord what just happened.
This is what I heard in my heart of hearts…”My son, I answered your prayer by introducing you to the king of Golf, but remember, I AM the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, I can do ALL things.” Yowsa! Oh, how I need to be careful not to worship any man as that can only be one and his name is Jesus.
I may just have to slide over to Bay Hill Golf Club again this year and see what the Lord may unfold.
I wanted to follow up on the video I posted of Ben Hogan’s slow-motion swing drill and share with you today’s model. Take a look here at Luke Donald’s swing, not a bad one to emulate for 2014 and beyond. Take a look at the down swing and where does the butt of club point to?
During these cold days of winter, grab your seven iron and head to the bonus room, garage or basement and start swinging in slow-motion. I love this drill and it only takes me .09 seconds from takeaway to a full finish. You really start to get a sense and a feel for a balanced consistent swing. Isn’t that what we are all longing for?
Please comment with any other questions you may have.
Have a blessed New Year.
Listen to world class athletes and you will hear them say that on days of their best performance; “its like I am running, skating, skiing and swinging in slow-motion.” For golfers, there is this keen sense of feeling the shape of this repeatable tension-free swing. I know that you have had or have come close to this experience. Remember that Par 5 where you had to lay up? You took out a 5 iron and flushed it 200 yards with this amazing tension-free lay up swing. Do you want to know a secret drill that you can do over the winter season and come out in the spring a better player? It is the .09 second drill that will get you closer to your best swing ever.
I recently had a conversation with Buddy Harsten, Director of Instruction at the Vanderbilt Legends Club here in Franklin, TN and he shared a video clip with me that was mesmerizing. He set up the clip with a question. Who’s golf swing has been the model swing over the years…and I quickly said, “Ben Hogan.” He then shared with me that Mr. Hogan would routinely swing so slowly that when he actually made contact with the ball it only traveled a few feet. Are you kidding me? Watch and learn.
Super-slow practice works like a magnifying glass. It lets us sense our errors more clearly, and thus fix them. Have your swing coach walk you through this drill and have him take photos and video to give you a image of your best swing ever.
Do you really want to make 2014 your best year of improvement in your golf game? I do. Join me in implementing the slow-motion swing drill, it only takes a few seconds.
Have a blessed New Year my friends and I look forward to seeing you on the fairways of life.
In His grip,
Brian Mogg, a former PGA Tour player, says that when sizing up a hole or particular shot, it is important to always choose a target and a plan on how to most effectively get the ball to that target. Having a target and plan helps overcome doubt and negative thoughts in decision making and execution of the shot. Otherwise, under the pressure of competition, it is easy to fall victim to distracting thoughts and feelings.
In life it is all too easy to focus on the obstacles rather than focus on the goal. Brian points to this passage in Philippians as one with wise counsel for the challenges of every day living and for golf. According to this verse we are to focus our attention on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, and worthy of praise. That is a positive thought for golf and for life.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Focusing on the positive makes life more fun, rewarding and successful. It will do the same for your golf.
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.
How many of you watched the final round with Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson yesterday? What at an example of being in the depths of the valley and in one swing you land on the top of a mountain. I have been with Zach when he had 162 yards into the 18th green at TPC at Southwind in Memphis and he hit the same 8 iron and with two bounces it ended up in the bottom of the cup for eagle. It was one of those nice chest bump moments even though it was in the Wednesday Pro-am of the St. Jude Classic. I was shocked just as much as you were to see him hit that 8 iron into hazard coming down the 18th yesterday.
Let’s be real guys, how many of us would have had a mental beat down on ourselves and thrown in the towel and given up…and say, ”oh well, I guess it wasn’t meant to be, at least I came in second.” What? Are you kidding me? It is never over until it’s over. There are too many times when we face adversity, the world will tell you to just cut your losses and move on. If you hit a tough time in your marriage (I have been there men), find yourself in the deep bunkers of debt, (yep, been there) or find out that you just lost your dream job (oh yes, been there too) I want to encourage you to stay the course and keep swinging.
James 1: 12 states; 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
I am so proud of Zach and how he persevered and committed to hitting the next shot to the best of his ability and allowed the results to take care of themselves. We ALL face difficult times in life and remember, we have a God in heaven that can pull us through any situation. I love this quote by Max Lucado; “Don’t measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it.”
You may be just one swing away from standing on top of that mountain that seemed so big and so insurmountable. Let this shot by Zach be an inspiration to keep swinging even when you find yourself in the hazards of life.