I Think God is OK with Golf!

I’ve known several staunch Christians who consider golf to be a silly waste of time, and question why one shouldn’t devote spare time to more serious pursuits, rather than chasing a small ball around a pasture.

I beg to differ….I believe two of the main things God wants us to accomplish during our time on this planet, is to grow as individuals, and serve as positive witnesses, by living our lives well.

Most golfers can fully appreciate the life lessons embedded in golf. I’ll open up a discussion about these in a future blog post. For now, I would like you to consider a quote from Emmy winning actor Craig T. Nelson (Photo credit: Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0), as it appears in the dust jacket of my book:

 

“In Joe Bullock’s novel, Walking with Herb, I was pleased to find out that God cares about golf. Over the years of my golfing adventures and misadventures, I had become convinced that God didn’t like golf at all, and didn’t appreciate me playing it . Mr. Bullock’s book adjusted my mistaken point of view. God loves me and is invested in what I am doing and how I am doing it. His love is constant, mine is sporadic. The lesson is ongoing in the novel as it is in life, and filled with wonder and faith in the face of obstacles.”

The PGA tour has always been heavily populated with professional golfers who are very visible as witnesses to their Christian Faith. The current crop includes top players such as Jordan Speith, Bubba Watson, Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, and Stewart Cink.

Bill Rogers, 1981 British Open Champion, former PGA Player of the Year, and a life-long Christian, is very active in Christian-related philanthropy. He wrote the following endorsement for the book:

“Joe Bullock has managed to use humor and the great game of golf to weave a beautiful faith message in Walking with Herb. This book will put a great big smile on your face.”

One of the most notable international devout Christian golfers is Bernhard Langer, former Number 1 ranked player in the world, and a two-time Masters Champion. He is a shining example of being very public about his Faith. When I asked him to read my book, and respond with an endorsement, he was quick to get back to me with the following, which is on the book’s cover:

 

“This inspirational and unique story touches every golfer’s heart. We know we have a big God, but do we dream big enough to prove it to the world and to ourselves? Do we trust our God enough to accomplish the things He wants us to? A truly captivating read and engaging story.”

For every famous Christian golfer, there are thousands of ordinary golfers who use the sport as a witness opportunity. My father was one of them, as were many of his old golfing buddies. An article I wrote about him which appeared in Golf Digest a few years ago. I’m looking to find the article on-line, I’ll get back to you guys as soon as I do.

I honestly believe that golf is one of the many gifts God has given us, but with the caveat, that like almost all of His gifts, we need to use it wisely. Golf is wonderful for teaching life lessons, providing wonderful witnesses, raising money for good causes, etc., but it can be harmful if not used in moderation wherein it conflicts with family time and our other Christian pursuits.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on Golf and God.

Have a comment or a question? Just write below! I love getting feedback and it motivates me to put even more time and effort into my work. Thanks! 🙂 /Joe.

5 tips to help you reach any goal

I believe the most important thing about goals, is simply to have them in the first place. As Herb says,

You can’t hit a target, if you don’t have a target.

SLEPPINS_TARGETGoal setting can be a somewhat painful process, as it forces us to actually think about what we really want in life. Too often, the process leads us to the recognition that we need to make some significant behavioral changes if we want to get where we want to go.

Here are some helpful rules about goals:

1. Goals should be personally rewarding. This provides your motivation. I’m not necessarily talking about only self-serving goals such as “I’m going to be able to retire by age 55.” Altruistic goals such as serving you church, etc., can be just as motivating.

2. Goals should be challenging, but obtainable. Unless a goal pushes you, you aren’t going to gain much from achieving it. On the other hand, impossible goals are just another form of day-dreaming. It’s fun to think about them, but they make no practical difference in your life.

3. Goals should be measurable. This goes back to having targets. “ I want to have a 5-handicap” is much more focused than “I want to be a better golfer.”

4. Goals should be time-based. If not, they may never get done. Having them time-based is part and parcel of developing a plan “ I want to have a 5 handicap someday,” is not nearly as powerful and directional as “I want to have a 5 handicap by the end of this season .”

5. Big goals should be divided up into progressive, intermediate goals. You can’t go from an 18 handicap to a 5 handicap in one step. It is more logical to have intermediate goals of gradually lower your handicap. If your goal is to be a 5 at the end of the season, set intermediate goals of being a 15 in 30 days, a 10 in 60 days, etc.

In my professional life, I have worked with the staff at my bank to develop daily goals. I encourage them to make a list of goals for the next day before leave the office in the evening. This allows them to hit the ground on the run in the morning. As a further refinement, I ask them to prioritize their goals. I advise them to start each day with a couple of easier, or more enjoyable tasks, to get them in the flow, and then tackle the harder tasks in order of importance. This is not unlike a professional golfer preparing for a tournament round. They invariably start with hitting some easy pitch shots before taking full swings.

It has always seemed to work better for me if I put my goals in written form and review them periodically. There is something powerful about this process, which deepens your sense of commitment.

The most difficult part for most of us is to honestly decide what we really want out of life and stop putting off what is keeping us from getting there. It’s a lot easier to hit targets when you have them.

A God-given mulligan

It’s not uncommon for friendly golf games to allow an occasional mulligan. For those unfamiliar with the term, a mulligan is a “do-over”. If a player hits a particularly bad shot, he/she is allowed to try it again, hopefully with a better result.

Sometimes life is like that (a teacher gives you a chance to re-take a test, etc.) but more often it is not. Off the course we mostly have to get it right the first time, and unlike a golf shot, we often don’t get instant feedback with regard to the result. We have to wait for the results, and view them with hindsight to see how we could have done better. By then, it is usually too late to take a mulligan. Continue reading A God-given mulligan

How Herb Would Fix Tiger’s Golf Swing

Hi Tiger. Here is some unsolicited, free advice from Herb.

You have been trying to fix your swing with a serious of complicated mechanical adjustments, which work on the practice tee, but are virtually guaranteed to fail you on the course during tournament play.

Let’s start by admitting where the problem started. Continue reading How Herb Would Fix Tiger’s Golf Swing

3 Tips to pressure-proof your golf game

I have received several positive comments from well-known golfers and golf instructors about the solid advice contained within Walking with Herb, with regard to the mental aspects of the game.

One of the first lessons Herb conveys to protagonist Joe Goodman is how to deal with pressure. Herb first explains that pressure is really just a self-generated illusion, an unhelpful response to an outside stimulus. In spite of all the TV commentators’ remarks about the pressure applied to golfers by outside circumstances, such as being in contention to win a tournament or make the cut, bad breaks, challenges from other players, etc., no person or circumstance can put pressure on you. All they can do is deliver it to your doorstep. It is entirely up to you to open your door and let it in or keep your door shut. Continue reading 3 Tips to pressure-proof your golf game

Jordan Spieth: faith at the 18th hole

By all accounts, Jordan Spieth is an amazing young man. He has an amazingly mature golf game for a twenty-one year old. Equally, if not even more amazing, is the maturity he demonstrates off the golf course.

It is safe to assume that as a product of Catholic schools growing up, he has a well-grounded spiritual background. His humility and public comments about the importance of family, especially his relationship with his special needs sister, speak volumes about his character. Continue reading Jordan Spieth: faith at the 18th hole