Talk about a great golf lesson!

This has been quite a week for sports fans:  Monday saw the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (“March Madness”) wrap up with a thrilling, two-heavyweights, down-to-the-wire Championship, and today provided as entertaining and impressive a day of golf as I’ve ever seen, at the finale of The Masters.

Lots and lots of unusual things I’ve never seen in golf and probably never will again… like BOTH players on the final round of a major tournament making an Eagle on the same hole but then having those very same two players turn right around a few holes later and BOTH chip in a birdie from the same sand trap near the end of the round.

And then there was the fact that a different player shot the (tied-for) BEST score for the front or back nine in the history of that hallowed tournament.

And too many other such unusual things to list here and now but you get the gist.

The only thing it lacked was an exciting finish, as the 54-hole leader from yesterday never yielded his lead all day today (though he did provide some last-minute excitement when he missed not one but two  tap-in putts on the very last hole) but the biggest takeaway for me was two sides of the same coin of a great life lesson.

First, the other half of the “last group” to tee-off was of course the fellow in second place at the end of yesterday’s third round and he came out of the gates red hot, scoring a birdie and going from being down three strokes to just two.

But it was pretty much all downhill from there for him on this crucial, pivotal, determinative fourth and final round.

He started out beautifully but his ending?  Not so much.

Or put poetically:

Great start.
Fell apart.

And that reminded me EXACTLY of a fateful fellow from the Bible named Demas.  Fateful, and fatally foolish.  Why?  Because he was given, he experienced one of THE ALL-TIME GREATEST roles in life:  being in the innermost social and spiritual circle of none other than the Apostle Paul.  We know this because Paul specifically named him, gave him a personal “shout out” at the end of not one but TWO of his Epistles which would later be included in the Canon of Scripture (i.e., I have a strong hunch Paul also gave him similar “kudos” at the end of many of his letters which weren’t  canonized).

  • “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.” (Colossians 4:14)
  • “as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.” (Philemon 24)

Wow!  Wow!!!  Getting a personal shout-out from the Apostle Paul himself for being one of his closest “fellow workers”… wow!!!

I’d be soooo jealous of that if I didn’t know what else Paul would later say about Demas:

  • “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…” (2 Timothy 4:10)

Great start.
Fell apart.

Just like that golfer today.

The other side of the lesson coin from today’s golf finale was the fact that the start-to-finish leader the entire round just happens to also be the #1-ranked golfer in the world.

This is quite common in other sports, too.

Do you suppose it was mere coincidence that NFL quarterback Tom Brady won so many Super Bowls (and MVP Awards) during his legendary career with the New England Patriots?  And then when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he led that  team to a Super Bowl victory, too?

Nope.  Not a coincidence.  Rather, it speaks to his consistency.

Or do you suppose it was mere coincidence when Michael Jordan led his Chicago Bulls to not one, not two, but three straight  NBA Championships in the 90’s?  And then, after taking two years off to try his hand at baseball after the untimely and very sad and senseless death of his dad, his best friend in the whole wide world as we used to say as kids, after two years off he came back and, yep, you got it, led his Chicago Bulls to not one, not two, but three straight  NBA Championships AGAIN to make it six straight for him personally and six out of eight for daaaaa Bulls.

Talk about consistency!

And that could be said of Wayne Gretzky in hockey and Cal Ripken in baseball and Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic or back in the day Pete Sampras or Bjorn Borg in tennis (and I have to include one of my personal favorites, Andre Agassi… not nearly so many titles as these other players but it seemed that for an entire decade or more he was almost always in the top two or three).

And even in the universally-viewed-as-random/luck world of poker, ever notice how the very same players end up at the final table and win tournaments year in and year out?

In all of these cases, it’s not a coincidence, it’s consistency.

As personified today by Scottie Scheffler at The Masters.

As personified most perennially by the Apostle Paul.  (No surprise that he too seemed to be a true sports fan, given the many references to sports throughout his various Epistles.)

May we strive and recommit ourselves to follow the example of Paul, not Demas.  Not just to start well but to end  well.

  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)
  • “… be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…” (1 Corinthians 15:58)


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