Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just Bubba

There are just some topics that I must constantly return to, in the same way as the swallows return each year to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. For this article I am addressing two of my favorites: Golf and Jesus.

This past weekend was a real doozy! Yes it was Easter, and that was glorious, to be sure. But it just so happens that the Master’s golf tournament was held that same weekend. This annual event is, in my estimation, the golf event of the year. Played at the pristine Augusta Golf Course in Georgia, the home of legendary Bobby Jones, only the very best golfers are invited to participate. So many great golfers have walked the rolling fairways of Augusta in its seventy-six year history that it has become a golfer’s haven, genuine hallowed ground in America in tribute to the ancient game.

The tournament is played the same way at Augusta as it is anywhere else, except there is that certain “something” that Augusta has. You can always anticipate that special things will happen on and off the golf course on this weekend. The Masters outdid itself this year!

The four-day event began on Thursday with all the “pre-game” hype, analysts prognosticating as to which of the notable golfers would rise to the top and play their best game and win the prize. Oddly enough, the prize for winning the Masters is an article of clothing. Specifically, it is a semi-bright green sport coat, although the deans of the game refer to it as the “Green Jacket.” I’m not sure it is a jacket that would be worn anywhere else but at Augusta. Yet it is an item so highly coveted among professional golfers that it makes all the other jugs, bowls, and platters presented as prizes at other tournaments seem like so many baubles, bangles, and beads.

For the uninitiated, golf is full of terms, idioms, and expressions that make absolutely no sense unless you have been immersed in the game for some time. For instance, in scoring you want to shoot par, which is really an average score. I know this sounds rather odd – that shooting an average score is good – but it is difficult enough to do, trust me on this! If you score better than a par on a certain hole, say the hole is a par 5, but you manage to shoot 4, this is called a birdie. These are highly favored among hackers like me. Now suppose you shoot a 3 on that same par 5. This is called an eagle. Such a score is worthy of many hurrahs for weeks by duffers and hackers. To shoot a score of 2 on that same par 5 is called an albatross! An albatross is also called a double eagle. The odds of making a double eagle are about one million-to-one for the average golfer. The pros obviously are more likely to make such a shot, but even then it is very very rare indeed. The likelihood of a hole-in-one is much greater than the albatross.

On Sunday during the final round of the Masters, the guy who came in second made a double eagle 2 on the second hole, a par five. It is a shot that will be talked about for years to come and will have a permanent place on the sports highlight reel. Along with the albatross, there were two eagles on Sunday, and just any number of amazing shots made by these professional golfers that leave you scratching your head in wonder.

But it was the shot that Bubba Watson made during the second hole of the sudden-death play-off that amazed the viewers. His drive was buried deep in the trees with no view of the green. He made the shot hitting the ball with a severe hook that caused it to land in the middle of the green. The place erupted in shouts and loud clapping. The cheers Bubba received as he walked up to the green were thunderous. He won the hole, and thereby won the tournament. He is now the newest member of the Green Jacket Club.

But I was impressed with Bubba’s humility in winning. He spoke of his father, his mother, his grandmother, his wife and their newly adopted son, but he said practically nothing about himself. His openness and honesty was refreshing. His first comments were to thank all the University of Georgia Bulldog fans who had supported him. And then he said, “And I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” On his tweet page later that evening he wrote, “To God be the glory! #Masters.”

Other Christian athletes contacted him to offer their congratulations, including Tim Tebow who is now with the New York Jets, and Jeremy Linn of the New York Knicks. In an interview following his victory, he was asked what he was thinking about at that moment. This was his reply, “All of these people that influenced me throughout my life, that’s what I’m thinking about, not really me winning a golf tournament. I’m thinking about all of these people that influenced me in the right direction to get to where I am today as a person.”

On his Twitter page he describes himself as a “Christian, Husband, Daddy, Pro Golfer.”

I’d say this young man has his priorities straight. God bless you, Bubba!

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