Hit the Shot

I love the game of golf. It has a rich tradition, and the history is fascinating. If you’ve ever played the game, then you understand how challenging it is. Many avid golfers will argue the “perfect round” can never be obtained. While a golfer may never be able to play the “perfect round,” I would argue that a golfer can experience the “perfect finish.”

In 2012, the golf world witnessed Bubba Watson win the 2012 Masters in dramatic fashion. If you don’t know Bubba, then do some research. He’s known for his unorthodox swing and for his long ball off the tee. His style of golf would never be found in any type of swing manual, however, it’s gained so much popularity that it’s been given its own name – BubbaGolf! Furthermore, Bubba is a normal guy – a down to earth, southern boy who loves to joke around and have fun.

Watson’s shot from the trees on the 2nd playoff hole at Augusta National will go down as one of the best shots in Masters history. Jack Nicklaus was even quoted as saying, “That will go down as one of the greatest shots ever played in the game.” The average person doesn’t realize how crazy of a shot it was. Just when it looked like Bubba’s chances were coming to a halt, he shocked the world with his 40-yard hook from the middle of the trees that stopped ever so graciously on the green. To put it simply, it looked like Bubba was down for the count. However, he took a risk, did something that no average man can do, and it paid off for him (See ESPN’s Sport Science Video Here).

While I sat on the edge of my seat, screaming at the television, Bubba took his time to tap in his 8-inch putt. What came next was something that I will never forget. As his caddy embraced Watson with a hug, Bubba wept. It was an uncontrollable sob. As he let go of his caddy, Bubba’s mother approached the green. More hugs and tears transpired. Then, something took place that I have never seen in professional golf. Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Aaron Baddeley and Ben Crane all approached the green and smothered Bubba with hugs.

It wasn’t just the hugging that caught my attention. It was the fact that Bubba had these four men in his corner, and when they each hugged him, I could tell they were genuine hugs – not just “bro hugs.” In all my years of watching golf, I never witnessed four other players celebrate with the champion on the final hole. As I sat and dwelled on that for a bit, tears came to my eyes.

“That’s what it’s all about,” I thought to myself. I knew right then that Bubba had a huge part of life figured out. Golf doesn’t define Bubba Watson. Genuine relationships are what Bubba’s life is all about, and the men fighting with him in his corner proved it that day.

I think Bubba’s experience at Augusta National can be compared to what we face in life on a regular basis. Don’t we often feel beat down? Don’t we get to the point where it seems like we don’t have the energy to keep battling? We may struggle with our marriages, raising our children, battling addictions, living for Christ, etc. In those moments, most of us take the easy route – we give up or give in. If we were in Bubba Watson’s shoes on that Sunday evening, we would have played it safe by punching out to the middle of the fairway, hoping to make bogey, and we would have settled for a runner-up finish.

However, Bubba Watson took a different approach. He did what most of us don’t have the courage to do. He took a risk by trusting in himself and following after his dream. Why?

I believe he took the risk because he knew that his identity wasn’t in the game of golf. He took the risk because he knew whether he won or lost, he still had his team of men in his corner. He knew that no matter what took place, he still had Jesus Christ to lean on.

Men – I encourage each of you to take a risk. Do not fall victim to the “norm.” Follow your dreams. Hit the shot. I know each of you have it in your bag. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Remember, you’ll never play the “perfect round,” but you can certainly experience the perfect finish. Your “caddy” encourages you every day. Are you listening?

Play well today, sir. I’ll be one of the guys hugging you on the 18th green when you win.

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

Be Quick to Listen & Finish Well

It’s inevitable.  We will experience difficult times.  Over the last several months, I’ve been close to people who are experiencing extremely difficult times.  I’ve sat with these people, listened to them, tried to put myself in their shoes, etc.  More often than not, I’ve realized they just needed someone to listen.

As men, I think our initial reaction is to throw a bunch of advice down people’s throat, which doesn’t do any good.  It leaves people feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and ineffective.  God’s been convicting me of that lately.  I am quick to have an answer, yet I rarely take time to truly listen, reason through it, and then give advice.

One friend in particular  has been faced with an issue that I would never desire to deal with.  Honestly, I believe he’s dealt with it better than most but it’s still a struggle.  There have been multiple times over the past few months where me and him have sat together early in the morning and late at night just talking through his “stuff.”  My heart breaks for him, however, I know my job is to keep him accountable to staying strong and pressing through all of it.

I received a text message from him a few days ago, which hinted at the fact that he was struggling in that particular moment.  My gut reaction was to text him back and say, “Just stay strong.  Keep pushing forward.”  As I was about to do that, I felt something inside me say, “Slow down, Garret.  Just listen…don’t react.”  I swallowed my pride and I did exactly that.  I said to myself, “Ok, God.  I’ll wait on you.”

I picked up my Bible this morning and started reading Joshua Chapter 14.  This is where Hebron is given to Caleb.  I encourage you to read it.  At this point, Caleb is at the age of 85.  He was promised an inheritance of land from Moses when he was 40 years old, and he’s just now getting the opportunity to seize this inheritance.  As I was reading this, I thought, “Well, what’s he going to do?  He’s old.  It’s been 45 years since he was given this promise.”

Caleb does the exact opposite of what I thought he would do.  He says, “So here I am today, eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.  Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.”

Wow!  What a response.  Think about it– this is 45 years later!  Can you imagine going through turmoil, questioning and frustration for 45 years?  Wouldn’t most of us just give up and give in?  Caleb finishes well.  There’s a certain drive and intensity within him.

When I read that, I immediately picked up my phone and texted my friend back.  I said, “Read Joshua chapter 14 today. Be Caleb. Stay strong.  Stay focused.  Keep pushing forward.”

Friends– life wouldn’t be so hard if all of us didn’t expect it to be so easy.  Life is tough.  God never promised us a bed of roses.  A good friend of mine once told me, “You’re either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or about to go in to a storm.”  We will all be faced with difficulties and challenges.  I just encourage each of us to be Caleb.  Keep the faith.  Stay strong.  Stay focused.  Seize the opportunity to overcome your situation.

Garret Barbush, Executive Director