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I do not play golf anymore…unfortunately. It has become too expensive for my budget. But as a young person I use to play ever summer at our local public courses in Shreveport and Bossier City.

These were not gorgeous courses like the ones you see the pros play on but non the less I had fun playing and remember my favorite holes to play. Many good memories were made on those courses over the years and many friendships were developed.

I also remember the lakes, trees and sand traps that always seemed to get in the way of me reaching the hole for several years. That is until I learned to play better. I practiced by playing and hitting the range almost daily.

At Huntington one of my favorite holes was the seventeenth. It was also one of the easiest and most aggravating for me too, for several reasons. It’s a par 5 with trees to the right of the tee box.

Now, honestly the trees were actually a short cut…if you could draw the ball that is. Which basically is where you aim your club face along the target line with your shoulders pointing right of the target, parallel to your intended ball flight line. This gives the ball a spin in the air which will make it go from right to left. But the catch was this…..you had to make it through the one and only break in the tree line. I did succeed on occasion, which led to a few birdies on that hole. I ended in the trees with a boogie or double boogie on the hole several times too. Yeah….there were many times I would par the hole if I did not try the short cut.

On that same course was number seven. Another long par 5 with a pond. Safe thing to do was to lay up to the pond and then go over on the third shot. I would always try to go over in two. Not a good idea as a young player.

I remember one time during a summer tournament that I had laid up but then hit the next shot in the lake because I topped the ball. Topping the ball is when you look up before you have made contact with the ball. Frustration set in and I did the same thing again. So I got upset and picked a ball out of the bag and tried to throw the ball over the pond. Well….let’s just say that did not work either.

It did not help any that my partner was over there bent over in tears laughing the whole time. By now I am hitting my ninth stroke due to penalties. I finished the hole with a thirteen.

I have seen people try to hit a ball out of a pond before. That did not work out to well for them as all it did was get them soaking wet from the splash of the club hitting the water. The ball stayed and they still had to drop and take a penalty.

None of the courses I played on had many sand traps yet I believe all of them held my ball at one time or another. Those were always fun….NOT! If you do not hit behind the ball right all you do is bury it even further.

Now the prize for every golfer is the hole and to at least par said hole. But there may be several obstacles in his/her path. The landscaper/developer can set sand traps, put a pond near, or block it with trees. There are many holes that actually have all three.

Once you are on the green it is by far a shoe in. You have to read the green. If the grass is wet you putt different than if it is dry. You have to aim left or right of the hole depending on the slope of the green as well. One read error can bring you from birdie (one under par) to boogie (one over) in a split second. And the fact that they change the pin/flag once a week always makes it an adventure. Many a time I lipped out of the cup…in aggravation.

Carefully laid shots are the key to paring any hole much less the course.

And the same is true with our walk of faith. Thankfully God does not move our prize…heaven…ever. But that does not mean getting there with a par, boogie or even a triple boogie is easy.

Our enemy will and does put trees, ponds and sand traps in our path on a daily basis. Just as hitting the practice range on the golf course helped me to play better golf, reading my Bible and praying help me daily in my walk. I try hard to stay away from my triggers, the sand traps, in life.

Trying the short cut in life is not a good idea as the trees will more than likely ensnare you and knock you down.

You can loose yourself, if not careful, in the ponds of life….as some can be pretty deep. Laying up is a good idea when you know there is a pond coming up along the way. Especially if you are not strong enough to make it over. Pray about you next move with your eyes on the prize not the obstacle in your path.

As Christians our golfing range is our Bible and prayer. Plain and simple. But in order to make it all the way through the course, which is our life, and maintain our faith…our integrity..we must rely on the wisdom of our Trainer, our Teacher, our Guide…the Holy Spirit; who works in one accord with God, our Father. Who will reward our faithfulness, our righteousness not with a trophy….but a crown.

2 Tim 4:7-8 (KJV)

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

God Bless,

Stuart

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