the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life
Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have long been linked as two of the "Big Four" of the older set in golf. Between them they have almost thirty major championships. Both of them have had countrymen whose swings were buttery smooth and nearly picture perfect. And both of them have wondered what they could have done with the physical blessings of their countrymen had they been given them. Their comments have been grist for the golf tabloids and served as excellent fodder for replies from the targets of their comments.
Jack Nicklaus is undeniably the greatest golfer who ever lived and is the benchmark by which greatness in the golf world is measured. However, Jack, for all his prowess, has imagined what it might have been like to have had the golf swing of fellow Ohio State University alum, Tom Weiskopf. Weiskopf had that certain fluidity that made his swing look absolutely effortless. Sam Snead once remarked that Weiskopf almost looked as pretty as him when he swung the club. Nicklaus has wondered out loud at different times why, with that beautiful swing, Weiskopf never won more than what few tournaments he did when, had Jack been blessed with that swing and Weiskopf's physical blessings (6' 3", 210 lbs.), Jack surely would have won more than he did.
South African Gary Player has watched his fellow countryman, Ernie Els, for a number of years now. "I don't question Ernie, ever," Player said in a recent interview. "But if I had his body, I would have won fifteen or sixteen Majors instead of nine." Els, like Weiskopf, is an imposing physical specimen standing six feet three inches tall and weighing in around two hundred and twenty pounds. He looks like a linebacker when he stands on the tee. Like Weiskopf he has one of the legendary swings of golf to the point where he has been nicknamed "The Big Easy" for the effortlessness with which he booms three hundred yard drives and two hundred and seventy yard seven irons.
So why haven't Weiskopf and Els become the dominant players of their generation instead of being competitors? Weiskopf said it himself. "No one has the will to win like Jack Nicklaus." Ditto the diminutive Player. What drove these men to achieve the success they have is an indomitable will. That has always been what has set the leaders of the pack apart from the guys whose only blessing is great skill and the perfect body for golf. Ever look long and hard at what separated the great servants of God from the rest of the pack in the Bible when all had the same God blessing them? Their will.
One of my favorite passages concerning Jesus has to do with His will. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." Luke 9:51 Jesus, omniscient Son of God, knew what lay ahead for Him in Jerusalem, but His will would not allow Him to fail in the task for which He had come to the earth. That is what separates a life of what could have been for the Lord from a life of what has been for the Lord. "Remember now your Creator...when the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is a burden, and desire fails." Ecclesiastes 12:1, 5 It is desire, will, that makes the difference between a life of regret and one of victory.
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