The Putting Green is a very special place to golfers. Putting is one of the most important parts of the game of golf–remember that almost one half of all the strokes allotted for a score are putts! And because the green is such a special place, and because putting is so important to your game, there are LOTS of etiquette rules to know about when you are on the green. I would say repairing your ball mark and NOT stepping in someone’s putting line are two of the most important things to which any golfer should pay attention. It is considered extremely rude and inconsiderate if you ignore this etiquette. It’s almost as if in golf you are expected to live Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.”
The etiquette expected in golf parallels the concept we taught in our “GROWING KIDS GOD’S WAY” Bible study about the “preciousness of others!” The whole lesson was centered around having an awareness of others and being considerate, modeling it first, and then teaching your kids the concept. We all know that our kids will not “buy in” if we don’t live it.
I can remember when our children were very young and we would point out to them to respect and consider the people coming behind them. It started just simply by helping them understand how important it is to throw away their trash, to leave the world a cleaner and better place. When they started to drive, it was as simple as pointing out the things that made us mad. For example, we would go to the grocery store and, invariably, someone had been too busy, careless or inconsiderate to return their cart. That cart took up one, or sometimes two, needed parking spaces. It would make all of us so mad but it counted for a very teachable moment–someone being very self-centered and not considering others, only themselves. My kids got to see and experience first-hand how it felt when someone was only thinking of themselves.
As our kids started to play golf, I learned very early that one of the great thrills in golf was to watch your well-hit shot sail through the air, land on the green and roll up to the cup. I watched a smile stream across their faces as each of the kids experienced this great feeling. As thrilled as they were over great shots, we had to constantly remind them that when the ball landed on the green it, no doubt, made a dent in the surface of the green. This dent required them to repair the green thus requiring them to live out Philippians 2:4—looking out for the interest of the players coming after them. No player ever wants to walk up to a green and find un-repaired ball marks. If you are not a golfer, but have heard it said, “Golf is a gentlemen’s game”, I think this one example would help you understand why it is considered such.
In life, I wonder what the world would look like if we all applied the simple Scripture found in 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own good but the good of his neighbor.” As humans we are fond of focusing on ourselves. Nearly everyone is guilty of not thinking of others as they should. There are many lessons that I have learned from the game of golf. One of those being, if you are selfish and inconsiderate, “YOU WILL NOT BE WELL RECEIVED BY MOST WHO PLAY!” If we could all remember Mark Twain’s quote, “KINDNESS is the LANGUAGE the DEAF can HEAR and the BLIND can SEE!” It applies to all parts of life, not just the game of golf.