Work on your short game

There is nothing better than stepping up to a tee box with your driver and crushing it. One time in a competition, my game was lousy. The last hole was a par 5 double dog leg. In sheer frustration, I just aimed for the green and hit one of the best drives of my life. The ball landed 150 yards from the green. Easy 5 iron shot put the ball right next to the whole. A fee more inches and I’d eagled it. It was not my long game that set me back, it was my short game.


An article from Golf Digest said to build your golf bag, spend the most focus on: your putter, then your wedges, then your irons, then your woods, and your driver last. Let’s face it, people rarely brag about their putters, but we LOVE to talk about our drivers. One practice with my high school team we all got excited as a teammate got a new BOOM BOOM driver. (We also laughed when he lost his grip and the club flew into the pond. After practice he went swimming.) That same practice my dad let me use his ’72 Ping Anser putter with a bronze head. People shrugged and said that’s nice. I had to work hard to get good at driving the ball. Dad giving me his putter shaved more strokes off my game than my driving practice. Dad picked me up at the 9th hole from practice where I sank a 60 foot put.


Practice was everything. When I said I was done, I often heard dad say a word I dreaded: Again… I started to place practice balls in impossible shots. Good golf practice trains you to get out of difficult situations. As people bragged about their drivers, I obtained the most beautiful club, the lob wedge. My lead up shot in a match was stuck at the base of a grassy knoll by the green. I needed two strokes or less to beat my opponent. He stood in plain sight to be intimidating. Grabbing my lob wedge, I took a three quarter swing before my opponent realized what I was doing. (His pants seemed to have darkened after this.) The ball popped straight up into the air and landed two feet from the hole. The Ping Anser had that wonderful chime when I tapped in my final put to win. (Dad laughed when I told him what happened with the lob wedge.) I hated to hear “again,” but “again” won the match.

Put-put is practice

Hanging out with some friends, we played put-put at the town course. One hole, shaped like a heart, we called lover’s lane. I of course brought my Ping Anser putter to this occasion. Legend states that if you get a hole in one, you truly love your sweetheart. Stepping up and hitting a dead on shot, my friend blocked the put. It’d clearly gone in. Tossing the ball back I was challenged, try that again. Same story. Same story the third time, but my friend let the ball drop in. Kelly and I got married a couple of months later. This event occurred years after playing competitive golf in high school. But coach’s advice was if we ever went to put-put, bring our putter because put-put is practice. How you practice is how you play.

The bottom line:

The number one thing I am hearing from pastors across the country is trying to figure out how to grow their church with all the chaos, fear, and confusion our current challenges bring. The often repeated phrase in this discussion is “we can’t do what we used to do.” The problem is we love drivers more than putters. We love to hear stories of 300 people drives, not consistently winning 6 foot puts with the person next to us. Each ministry philosophy is like a club in our golf bag. We raved and bragged for years about our “drives,” and neglected building up our short game. Bag your driver, and get good with short ga Lives depend on it.

2 thoughts on “Work on your short game

  1. I’m looking to take up golf next spring. I’ll remember that. My ministry is taking a drastic shift – I’ll remember that.

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