Logos Ireland National Golf Day Portstewart GC June 16
We had a super turnout of over 30 at this year’s event and there were a number of non-believers who had been brought along by Christian golfers, which is terrific. There was a super opening to do the talk at the end with several new faces there. A good time!
There are times when God surprises us! Out of the blue I received a phone call from Roy, a club pro in Belfast, whom I had never met, but of course knew of. Roy had been in touch with Graham Daniels from Christians in Sport at his church when they had been having a CiS day, and he rang me up and came along to Portstewart. So we had a long chat and we have discovered another believer in the pro golf ranks. Hallelujah!
PGA Club Pros’ Championship, Luttrellstown Golf Club, near Dublin June 12-13
Whilst this is simply an event where I take part in the survey, it’s one of the few tournaments outside the European tour SMS venture into. Over the last eight years there have been several players who have ‘come down’ from the ET and are now working as PGA club pros and playing in one of the seven regions in the British Isles. So it is good to come across them at this event and renew some previous friendships.
At this season’s tourney my focus was more on who was alongside me on the survey. In the evening I had the opportunity presented to give my testimony to them and tell them all about Logos. They asked questions and got full answers. They were also aware of the other believers on Tour. A good opportunity and as we know we have to ‘make the most of …’ from Colossians 4:5 ….
The Moray Golf Club sits right on the coast at Lossiemouth and has hosted a number of high profile amateur and professional events. It is a mixture of fair and testing holes and even on a calm day presents a test golf. What we were about to experience for the event was something nobody could have prepared for.
I managed to make it up for the Monday practice day and got to play 12 holes with a former European Tour player. It was a beautiful evening and as we played the first hole he asked me if I was playing much. This gave me the opportunity to briefly share with him regarding my role with Logos and how I was hoping to get out there more with the support of Christians in Sport going forward. He seemed quite intrigued but did not really mention much about it after that. We spoke about where we played our junior golf as he recognised my face, probably from the old Glasgow Golf Union days, and when I mentioned my home club of Sandyhills the penny dropped for him. I had played his brother in a match in 1991 at Cathkin Braes and he had been watching so the dots were finally joined. We were conscious of the time so instead of playing all the way round we jumped across to the final six holes. Having played the course before we did not really need to go all the way round and it was just nice to get a feel for the place again after 4 hours in the car getting there. When we finished, we wished each other well for the tournament and had no idea of what was to come on Tuesday.
The weather forecast was not good for Tuesday and Wednesday and as I stood on the 1st tee the rain was driving in from the water and showed no signs of letting up. I was playing with players from Panmure and Banchory. If we had been playing any other course it would have been unplayable before lunchtime but Moray has one of the best natural drainage systems I have witnessed, and the course, especially the greens, were playable despite the amount of rain that continued for the rest of the day. Every single golfer on the course was soaked to the skin and was tasked with completing 18 holes which reminded me of that cult Japanese show ‘Endurance’.
One of my partners decided he could not play anymore so left the course after 9 holes. The remaining two of us continued as we felt we had no other option and there was only word to describe the back 9 – horrific. The one positive was that we both chatted away to keep each other going and I did manage to share with him about my role and my faith earlier in the round. He didn’t really enquire about it on the back 9 but that would probably have been the last thing on his mind during the squall we experienced. We kept saying to each other, “Only 6 holes left”, “Only 4 holes left” and any finesse about playing the game had just gone out the window.
We were just managing to hold on to our clubs and get the ball going forward which was success in our eyes. I still could not believe how well the course held up to it, especially the greens, and felt as though we had achieved something special by just finishing the round. Despite our rounds of 81 and 82 respectively, we were sitting around the top 30 out of 90 players. The scores were the highest ever recorded for the 1st round and when former champions score 19 over and 17 over par for their rounds you can understand how impossible conditions were. Easily the most difficult time I have experienced on a golf course.
I had spoken to one of the organisers briefly on the putting green before play and he already knew about my role from speaking to him at last year’s Northern Open. He was more concerned about the future of the Northern Open due to the event not having a sponsor which has effectively halfed the normal prize money. I half jokingly said maybe we could eventually have a Logos Golf Ministries Northern Open next year depending on how things go. He seemed fine with it and it wasn’t till I said it I thought about how prominent that would be to be sponsoring the second biggest event on the Tartan Tour. Something to pray about.
I was playing with with the same partner for the second round and conditions had eased slightly but there was a lengthy delay in the morning as the rain had continued overnight and parts of the course had started to flood. Eventually we managed a two tee start and two of the holes had to be reduced in length as this was the only way the course would be playable and get everyone out in time. I managed to speak with another player just before the round and he seems keen to participate in the Pro-Am at Dundonald in September so we have almost all our Professionals on board and I just need to speak with a couple more to get our full compliment. A score of 3 over on the second round was not bad but I did leave a couple of shots out there and narrowly missed the cut by the same amount. It was disappointing not to make it through but over the whole I did look back and feel I did pretty much the best I could have done given the conditions. Also, It was a pretty tough cut mark with only the top 32 going through.
Sometimes circumstances can seem very unfair and in an ideal world everything would be in place for things to go the way we plan. Golf is one of those games that is not like that at all and making the best of what we are given definitely gives us a better perspective. Although disappointed not to make the cut, I left Lossiemouth with some confidence and an element of contentment as for the most part I did the best I could. I will take this forward with me and know it will help me in the future.
God is always at work and he always has a plan even if things don’t go the way we would like. I was on the reserve list for the Cawder Pro-Am last week and although I didn’t get to play due to a smaller field than usual, I had the opportunity to play with fellow Christian golfer and his friend. The former has booked a team in the Pro-Am and we have also been talking about his church golf day he is organising that would have Christians and non Christians attending sometime in August. These are exciting times for the ministry in Scotland and I look forward to the plans God has for us. Let’s be honest, If we knew everything that was going to happen it would all be a bit boring wouldn’t it?
Please pray for those mentioned in this report and for the future of the ministry.
Scandinavian Masters Barseback GC, Malmo, Sweden May 30 – June 01
I’ve often mentioned that some of the best contact times are when the other person can’t escape; shuttle bus, courtesy car, when taking refuge from bad weather … this week these came together on four separate occasions.
When leaving Copenhagen airport we had a 30-minute courtesy car run to the course and I spent that time chatting to a caddie from Stirling who has been on the Tour for five years. Then the gale force conditions on Wednesday gave two 3/4 hour chats with two caddies who between them have mustered 58 years on the Tour.
The shuttle bus took half an hour and one of those journeys was spent beside a player from Wales, who has in my time on Tour been back and forth on the EuroPro, Challenge and main circuits – he has ground it out and is still going.
The common thread during these four chats was how aware they all were of; my role on Tour [other than the survey], the amount of believers from South Africa and who they are, the Bible studies we hold and that life in general has more to offer than what they have … How right they are – four super conversations …. When people are on their own it’s amazing just how more open they are to talk as opposed to when in a group where their thoughts and words are guarded.
I also met up with an Asian player, and the only other believer there this week I was aware of …. Always good to get together on a 1 – 1 at these events, and his English is so good I can easily understand him, but not sure if it works the other way round?!
One other interesting and encouraging happening this week was through the social medium of What’s App. You’ll all be aware of a SA caddie who got saved over two years ago and is presently carrying for a player in Asia .. We keep in touch regularly by What’s App and he sent a message saying that his player was treating him badly on the course at this week’s tournament and he was ready to give it up … exact quote ‘I need advice I am really down’ so it was a joy to reply to him and the final sign off from him was ‘thanks, feeling much better now’ – I know social media can get a rough press but there are times when it is positive and when you can communicate instantly with someone in Japan!
Mind boggling …
Upcoming event; Club Pros’ Championship in Dublin – This isn’t really a Logos event but over the years when I have helped out with the survey at it, there has been an increasing number of players taking part whom I have come across on the Challenge and ET, with life on the circuit being so competitive then not everyone can stay in the top hundred or so and around 20 players will be in Dublin who now ply their trade at PGA club level – so we’ll see who the Spirit brings me across this coming week …
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.