I’m not the kind of person you’d ever catch wearing golf shorts and gloves, pulling out my nine-iron to tee off on the 7th hole. My fast-moving, often scattered brain can’t imagine spending a Saturday afternoon this way; much less why anyone would sit at home and watch such a tedious thing on television. Early on a recent Sunday morning, I found myself entranced by a National Public Radio story about an unorthodox approach to playing this very traditional game. And, it wasn’t just the sleep deprivation or lack of coffee that pulled me in.
The story profiled Christopher Smith, a golf pro in Portland, Oregon. A number of years ago, Smith decided to combine his recreational running with golf – playing 18 holes in under an hour (rather than a more typical leisurely five-hour game.) That sounded like some golf I could get excited about!
What he discovered was that he played better when he played faster. “We tend to get in our own way when we play golf over analyzing,” he says. “Really what … playing speed golf does is it forces you to play in more of a reactive, reactionary sort of way. You simply see the shot, and create it. That’s what we’re all trying to move toward, is being more present.”
Church, like golf, is steeped in tradition and tends to move very slowly. Just try to suggest a change, even a small one, and see how fast it gets implemented, if at all.
Could we benefit from thinking like a speed golfer? What if we just saw our shot and created it, rather than enduring endless discussions and planning? Would we more easily be able to adapt to changing preferences in worship? Could we more easily be present to the neighborhood and find immediate, impactful opportunities for service and ministry?
Do you have a story of when you saw your shot and created it? Or was there a situation in which you could have been more present and just acted rather than psych yourself out?