Faith was sealed with a 90 yard chip-in
Published 10:16 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023
By Wyatt Emmerich
It only took me 50 years of golf to finally get my first hole in one on the fourth hole at Lake Caroline.
It was a 145 yard shot and the hole was slightly hidden. I saw the ball bounce up but then it disappeared.
As we approached the green the ball mark was clearly visible about 18 inches from the hole. At that point, I knew it was in the hole and it was.
Apparently it bounced once and went straight into the hole. After that, there was much whooping and hollering, including fellow golfers from nearby holes. A moment of glory!
Statistically speaking, only 20 percent of serious golfers ever make a hole in one. That’ll probably be my first and last.
What made it even more special was the spiritual element.
On the second hole, a fellow golfer, who was facing some serious life issues, hugged me and thanked me. “You told me to quit doing it myself and pray,” he told me. “I did and it worked.”
On hole three, that same golfer and I were off the green about five feet. He was slightly farther away, and I was gleefully looking forward to him going first, which would give me valuable insight about the break of the green.
The rule in golf is that the golfer farthest from the hole goes first.
At the last minute, a thought came over me, “I should love my brother as myself.” So instead, I went first, giving him the benefit instead of me.
Surprised, he thanked me for my kindness. We both sank the 30 footer.
As we were walking from the third green to the number four tee box, I started waxing eloquent about doing things God’s way instead of the selfish human way. I rarely preach while golfing, but his heartfelt hug on number two got my spiritual juices flowing.
My sermon was continuing as I teed up my ball on the fourth tee box. “You can’t do it, but God can do it for you, if it is in his will.” Then I hit what felt and looked like a perfect shot, my hole in one.
This was not my first spiritual revelation on the golf course. Thirty years ago, I was playing in the hot summer sun, my ball in the woods, losing a money bet, when I got down on my knees and prayed in front of my golf buddies, Bob Crisler and Kemal Sanli.
I had wanted to play in the cool morning hours, but my church-going friends refused, choosing church instead.
“Dear Lord,” I prayed. “I know I haven’t been a good Christian and I don’t deserve your help, but I’m getting my butt kicked and if you would help me out that would be a great way for you to show me you are real and care about me.”
I then won the final three holes by one stroke each, chipping in from 20 yards, 30 yards and then 90 yards, a blind shot over a sand trap. When I hit that last shot, the curtain of reality started to fray as I swung, which felt like slow motion. It seemed like, for the briefest of moments, I could see beyond the veil.
I’ve never heard of any golfer ever chipping in three holes in a row, much less an average handicapper like me. The odds of me doing that after getting down on my knees and praying are one in a number the name of which I do not know.
As I approached the 18th green, Bob and Kemal (who will be happy to
verify this story) stood utterly still and speechless as I calmly walked over and removed my ball from the hole. My faith was sealed.
It was only years later, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, when pastor Josh Cole tied the story up with a bow in his sermon on Luke 11:8: Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Wyatt Emmerich publishes the Northside Sun in Jackson. Write to him at email@example.com