Monday, December 21, 2009

Pebble Beach

I played Pebble Beach today. It was most likely the only time I will get the chance to do so. About a month ago my father in law informed me that a close friend of his had won 2 free rounds. This guy works for the Pebble Beach company and had said for over 2 years that the next time he wins the two rounds (given away each month to employees), he'd give it to my father in law and I to go play. Turns out that the official rule is you're supposed to play with one person, but by working some strings he was able to get himself on with us. Then by working one more string they had left, we were even able to get my brother in law on for free too! $2000 of golf for free! It was a Christmas miracle I tell you.

So, anyways, I totally stunk it up today. Since last week I have developed what I believe is known as the "yips" in the golf world - an unforeseen problem with your swing that causes you to hit the ball in the wrong direction. I didn't have it on every hole, but on enough to be sure. Not only that, but it rained for about 8 holes. And I'm not talking the misty kind of rain that comes on coast almost every day. I'm talking about side ways rain that felt like the ocean was just spitting on you! We were drenched through and through but kept on going... I mean, this is Pebble Beach here! You don't just quit after 11 holes because of a little rain. Not only was I soaked, so were all my clubs and their grips. On the 15th hole I took off my glove (who needs a glove in a down pour?) and took a whack at it, and I'm pretty sure the club flew further than the ball. It soared for about 3 seconds through the air, hit some branches and tumbled down. Poor 5 wood... it doesn't deserve to be treated so poorly. Fortunately the rain stopped on the 15th hole and the sun actually came out pretty quickly. I miraculously got par on hole 16 and 17, then bogeyed 18 (perhaps the most famous par 5 in the world, literally) just before the clouds threatened again.

If you've made it all the way to this point, I'm impressed. Most people fall asleep when talking about golf for more than 5 minutes, let alone when reading about someone else's round for a couple paragraphs. But let me mention a few things I was thinking about either before playing, during the round, or afterward in reflection.

1. It's amazing that God created a world with such creativity that we can mold it and make golf courses all over it. That also goes for parks, fields, and many more things. God providentially allowed grass to be planted, bunkers to be placed in certain spots, and all of that. Awesome.

2. Amidst such beauty, who cares how you play. And if you do care too much, then you either need to be getting paid tons of money for playing on some professional tour or you need to quit. It was horrible weather and an incredible experience all at the same time.

3. Sometimes, when I'm at places where I know some people have been before, I just get this awe-struck sensation. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, and countless other golfers and celebrities have been held captive by the beauty of Pebble Beach for many years, and now I'm in that number - not in the talent sort of way, but in the "I've-been-there-too" way.

4. Jesus is better than Pebble Beach. No, seriously, I was thinking this. The good news about Jesus coming to earth to die for my sins, and rising again and being the Ruler over all the earth is much cooler than saying I played Pebble. Who really cares about Pebble? OK, I do and so do many others. But just think about it... if who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for us isn't more important than a place like Pebble, or your favorite vacation spot, or your dream vacation, or that home, or that financial goal, or that relationship, something is seriously wrong with us. Honestly I don't always think in these terms, but as I was thanking God for this beautiful place he made and allowed mankind to carve up into that golf course, I realized that while it's cool to play golf along cliffs and watch your golf ball sail into the ocean several times, it's way better to know my sins have been paid for by Christ and totally forgiven.

More could be said about my day today, but that's all anyone would want to read. I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to play and would have played 18 holes in terrible weather if I needed to. But while this was a day I'll remember the rest of my life, I'd be OK if it had never happened. Life would go on, God would be God, Jesus would be my Savior, and I'd still be OK. This is the perspective I hope to have on other things as well, and by God's grace will grow into as I mature in him.

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