Golf book offers chance to sharpen your short game with God

March 11, 2009

Bobz Book Reviews

“And God Said Tee It Up!”,

by Gary Graf

Gary Graf is not a theologian, nor does he pretend to be.

But he’s done a whale of a job of research about both great memories in professional golf history and down-to-earth spirituality that move readers painlessly from the the fairway to reflecting on their own relationship with God.

The stories about golf’s great moments and the detail that describes the particular holes at great golf courses like St. Andrew’s, Winged Foot, Troon, Oakmont and Pebble Beach are likely to be gobbled up by sports fans.

When it comes to connecting those moment to faith, Graf takes more of a regular-guy, meat-and-potatoes approach. A scholar might take exception to linking which club to use to appreciating all the gifts God gives us, but you know, it’s really not all that much of a stretch. And Greg Norman’s dying — in the Masters — and rising to terrific success in several businesses is a good reminder of not only Jesus’ dying and rising but our own.

As Graf writes, “Granted, Norman’s fall and subsequent rise are but poor human analogies to something divine and mysterious. But each and every day we must die to something old and rise to something new. . . . Life presents us with the opportunity for rebirth, if we are open to it. As for Jesus, paradoxically his most devastating moment — his crucifixion — was the catalyst for his crowning glory.”

Take a hole at a time

Each chapter heading is a hole on a golf course — including the 19th, the post-match session in the clubhouse to congratulate and commiserate — and that makes for 19 short reading sessions if you read a chapter at a time.

That would be a good way to play — I mean, read — “And God Said Tee It Up!”

You can only absorb so many golf facts and so much golf history in one setting before they become a blur, and that will give you time to reflect on the spiritual points that Graf offers for pondering in each chapter.

The stories of Lee Trevino, Payne Stewart, Arnold Palmer and more are good copy, as are the background anecdotes about the naming of holes called “The Pulpit” and “The Valley of Sin,” the berms called “Church Pews,” and the course called “The Sistine Chapel of Golf” — Cypress Point Club at Pebble Beach, where “every hole is a work of art.”

Thanks to Acta Publications for being willing to get “Tee It Up” into print. — bz

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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