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Tag Archives: professional golf

Average Isn’t Good Enough

In the context of golf, average is like the par for each hole listed on a course’s scorecard. Amateurs golfers strive for par, hoping to take advantage of the easier holes. Meanwhile, the more difficult holes will challenge players, often satisfied with a bogey, one over par. This isn’t the case for professionals who will usually miss 36 hole cuts if they don’t shoot several strokes under par. Average golf professionals don’t last long on the PGA Tour, demoted to a lesser tour or forced to pursue another career.

Concerning this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull and sluggish in [your spiritual] hearing and disinclined to listen, Hebrews 5:11.

The Bible doesn’t paint a positive picture of average Christians. The author of Hebrews refers to an individual who is dull, ignorant and stubborn. Instead of reaching new heights, an unwillingness to listen has resulted in an average life. The difference between an amateur and a professional is the amateur dabbles, unsure of themselves. The professional is committed, determined and focused, possessing a faith in their God given talent. Most amateurs are content with their current status, falling back on another trade as their main career.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers [because of the time you have had to learn these truths], you actually need someone to teach you again the elementary principles of God’s word [from the beginning], Hebrews 5:12.

According to the Bible, God expects Christians to move beyond elementary principles. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of growing up, from a child into a man, 1 Corinthians 13:11. At some point, the Lord wants all believers to put aside childish ways. Modern churches use the confirmation process as a vehicle for growth, enabling teenage boys and girls to take ownership of their faith. As adults, God expects more, to move beyond an amateur mindset toward the devotion of a disciple. May this blog inspire souls to draw closer to Jesus, eager to serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

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Voices from the Grave

After spending a long weekend enjoying the warmth of Florida, the remaining days of my family vacation served a different purpose.  My wife’s father bought a condo back in the 1990’s when her brother JD was pursuing a career as a professional golfer.  Following my marriage proposal to Leanne, I spent a winter living in Florida with JD to fulfill my own dream.  With the passing of Jim Wagner last fall, it was time to clean out everything that has accumulated over the past 25 years.  Before putting this property on the market, sorting through what was left behind was necessary and to my surprise like hearing voices from the grave.

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead, James 2:26.

When death separates the living from the deceased, one of the few things you have remaining are the memories of your time together on earth.  Two of my visits to Oldsmar, Florida were business trips, serving as a staff writer for Travel Golf Media.  One of the perks of this job was playing golf for free along with a photographer.  Thus, Jim and Leanne took turns helping me, saving several hundreds of dollars in greens fees in the process.  While going through a closest I found several hats, a golf shirt and score cards from these memorable rounds of golf.  Upon seeing these items, it was like hearing Jim’s voice again saying, “thanks for a great round!”

And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead,” Matthew 8:22.

The hardest part about coping with death is letting go.  Some mourning individuals create a memorial in their homes with letters, pictures or clothing worn by this loved one.  Meanwhile, deadly accidents have crosses or wreaths to remind you of the fallen.  Yet, at some point you have to move on.  During a discussion with potential candidates, Jesus urged eager disciples to let the dead bury their own dead.  Jesus isn’t trying to be cruel or harsh.  Essentially, Jesus is commanding his followers to focus on the living, those near you who need your help.  Therefore, if you want to leave your own legacy take Jesus’ advice so that your actions may serve as voices from the grave after you are gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Esau Syndrome

From a historical point of view, Esau is the first boy scout mentioned in the Bible.  Although the Boy Scouts of America is over 100 years old, based upon the passage below, it appears that Isaac invested time teaching and training his son how to live off the land.  This enabled Esau to become a skilled hunter, embracing the outdoors like a contestant on Survivor.  Unfortunately, cooking was a like foreign language to Esau, dependent upon his mother Rebekah and slightly younger brother Jacob to prepare what he brought home.

When the boys grew up, Esau was an able and skilled hunter, a man of the outdoors, but Jacob was a quiet and peaceful man, living in tents, Genesis 25:27.

A syndrome is a condition characterized by a collection of associated symptoms.  If you closely evaluate the life of Esau, he spent so much time outdoors that he wasn’t able to become well rounded.  This short sided approach to life forced him to become dependent upon others for meals, never taking the time to learn how to cook.  Thus, this weakness was exposed following a long hunting trip, handing over his birthright to Jacob in one irrational moment.  Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, Esau squandered the inheritance due to him upon his father’s passing.  This one bad decision has defined Esau’s irrelevant life.

Jacob had cooked [reddish-brown lentil] stew [one day], when Esau came from the field and was famished; 30 and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a quick swallow of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” For that reason Esau was [also] called Edom (Red). 31 Jacob answered, “First sell me your birthright (the rights of a firstborn).” 32 Esau said, “Look, I am about to die [if I do not eat soon]; so of what use is this birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear [an oath] to me today [that you are selling it to me for this food]”; so he swore [an oath] to him, and sold him his birthright, Genesis 25:29-33.

The Scout’s Motto is to be prepared.  From a spiritual stand point, this involves advancing past elementary teachings, Hebrews 6:1.  This includes embracing the good with the bad, James 1:2-6, recognizing that God uses trials to take people out of their comfort zones.  These periods prune individuals, stimulating growth by removing dead areas, John 15:1-5.  As a former professional golfer, I spent most of my time on the weakest parts of my game.  If I just practiced my strengths, I would not maximize my ability to improve.  If you want to live a relevant life, make sure you develop all the areas of your life, not just the ones you like.  Prayer, discipline and accountability partners will help you overcome the Esau Syndrome by becoming mature and complete, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

by Jay Mankus

The Power of Thanksgiving

The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is ydh, referring to a public acknowledgement.  Greek uses the term efcharisto meaning the sense of appreciation, inspiring an expression of gratitude.  When a spirit of thanksgiving is verbalized to the down trodden, hurting and needy, affirmations can uplift anyone feeling down in the dumps.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 106:1

Unfortunately, there is a negative force at work in the world, breeding critics, complaining and condemnation.  Whenever human beings give into the sinful nature, acts of the flesh come forth, usually in a cruel and harsh manner.  This mental barrier prevents individuals from doing the right thing as the apostle Paul describes in Romans 7.  The only way to break free from this addictive habit is through Jesus Christ.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

As a former professional golfer, my mind always got in the way, preventing me from reaching my full potential on the golf course.  Yet, the mind also hampers those off the course, in real life, whispering doubts, failure and ungodly beliefs into your head.  Unless you confront this battle with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, victories will be few and far between.  Despite this troubling reality, with God all things are possible.  Therefore, if you want to make a difference this holiday season, unleash the power of Thanksgiving by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

A Feel Good Story, No Matter What the Outcome

If you are sports fan, then you understand the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.  However, some cities tend to be tough luck losers, as if a curse is preventing their team from becoming champions.  The nice thing above the 2016 Major League Baseball World Series is that one of two lovable losers will be victorious.  Over the next 5 days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will break droughts that have lasted a generation or two.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

On the road to becoming champions, those who finish second are scorned, often labeled as chokers, failures or second losers.  Instead of enjoying the journey like the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, who is the only team to make it to 4 consecutive Super Bowls, the final score devalue their achievement.  Unfortunately, professional sports is a results driven industry causing feel good stories to be ruined by impatient fans, managers and owners.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

As I look back at my own athletic career, one of my most memorable moments occurred in the least likely of venues.  This didn’t occur during my brief professional golf career or playing Ultimate Frisbee in college.  Rather, my most gratifying experience came in a competitive men’s softball league.  Similar to the character played by Kevin Costner in For the Love of the Game, I played every out like it was my last game.  Whether you call this playing the game the right way or not, I found contentment no matter what the outcome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

You’ll Never Know Unless You Try

When I was younger, I thought I was better than I actually was.  I would talk smack, emotionally annoy opponents and wouldn’t back down from a confrontation.  Over time I have mellowed, learned the importance of humility and found contentment in my retirement from sports.  Yet, I’m thankful that I wasn’t afraid to fail as a professional golfer.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

As I step away from competition, my son James faces a similar dilemma.  Despite being a state champion pole vaulter and 3 time all conference golfer, playing division one sports in college is a whole new ball game.  Thus, he has to decide do I risk embarrassment, humiliation or do I play it safe by avoiding disappointment?  My message to him is you’ll never know unless you try.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

In my first golf mini-tour event, I shot 48 on the front nine, shaking so badly it was hard to swing a club.  I could have hung my head, quit or withdrawn from this competition.  Yet, I battled, birdieing the 10th, finding my rhythm on the back nine.  I never made any money nor did I reach the P.G.A. tour, but I walked away from this game knowing I did everything in my power to succeed.  Thus, whether you are my son, a friend or a stranger I meet along the road called life, you’ll never know your ultimate destiny unless you try by utilizing your God given talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

Quitters Focus on the Wrong Things

1. Success is the process of arriving, not victory.

Instant gratification often causes the casual athlete, fan or participant to give up before seeing the fruits of their labor.  Christian apologist Clive Staples Lewis defines success as the process of arriving in his book Mere Christianity.  Unfortunately, a spirit of perfection leads many to fail to comprehend this mindset.  Thus, every year individuals stop pursuing their dreams, end a career prematurely or quit their jobs due to a lack of satisfaction.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established, Proverbs 16:3.

2. Failure is a blue print for knowing what does not work.

In 1994, my fiance gave me her blessing to pursue professional golf in 1995.  I spent the first three months playing on the Tommy Armour Tour, a mini-tour based in Florida.  The day before my first tournament, I completely changed my swing.  After three humbling tournaments, I made my way up north to Ohio before participating in Qualifying School on Vancouver Island for the Canadian P.G.A. tour.  After being even par after 4 holes, I fell apart missing the 36 hole cut.  Looking back, if I would have waited one year before turning professional, I would have had a better chance.  Yet, for now, I know what not to do.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever, Psalm 73:26.

3. Humility strips away pride, prompting hearts to trust in God, not self.

One of the hardest things to determine in life is knowing when to say when.  For me, it didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t belong on the P.G.A. tour.  Facing failure tends to strip away arrogance, especially when you come to the reality “I can’t do this.”  However, today I struggle with determining if I have done everything possible in power to ensure success.  In the past, when I’ve allowed frustration to dictate my decision making, I quit before the timing was right.  Therefore, before you make a rash decision in the future, make sure you trust in the Lord’s understanding instead of yourself.

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight, Proverbs 3:6.

by Jay Mankus

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