Sunday, April 18, 2010


Jim Furyk is for me a golf hero, and not just because he has a bizarre swing. He’s not a “celeb” like some other PGA Tour players I could mention—he’s a hard worker who has enjoyed success because of his work ethic. And he won the Heritage at Hilton Head today. Or should I say, he didn’t lose it?

This is because of a strange occurrence during the playoff. His fellow-competitor was Brian Davis of England. And Davis “gave” Furyk the championship. Hitting a ball out of bounds, Davis was readying for his approach shot when his club tickled a reed, causing it to move (the picture above shows where Davis was when he committed the infraction). Davis was probably the only human being to see this. But technically (and golf more than any other sport lives and dies by the word “technicality”) this amounted to “grounding the club” in a hazard—forbidden by the Rules of Golf. Davis called himself on it, gave himself a 2-stroke penalty, and thereby “gave” the victory to Furyk. Yet it could well be said that Davis did indeed “win” today…

It is reminiscent of the scene in the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, when the young hero, in an exhibition against Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, also commits a technical rules violation and calls himself on it, though no one could see. The movie’s ending is a joy for all golfers!

This all leads me to ask, “When is the last time I called a penalty on myself—in anything?” I could phrase this question in a different way: “How authentically do I examine my conscience, and am I ready to accept the consequences of that proper and rigorous examination?” After all, it is said that "character" is what you do when no one is looking...

Bobby Jones lost the US Open by one stroke after calling a penalty on himself for a violation similar to that which Brian Davis committed. Jones’ reply, when commended for his honesty: “Sir, that’s like congratulating a man for not robbing a bank.”

Are we ready to “tee it up” in our life?

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  1. From "Evangelium Vitae"-Encyclical written by Ionnas Paulus PP. II (Pope J P II)

    When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that "new" and "eternal" life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this "life" that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance

    Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time, in fact, is the fundamental condition, the initial stage and an integral part of the entire unified process of human existence. It is a process which, unexpectedly and undeservedly, is enlightened by the promise and renewed by the gift of divine life, which will reach its full realization in eternity (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-2). At the same time, it is precisely this supernatural calling which highlights the relative character of each individual's earthly life. After all, life on earth is not an "ultimate" but a "penultimate" reality; even so, it remains a sacred reality entrusted to us, to be preserved with a sense of responsibility and brought to perfection in love and in the gift of ourselves to God and to our brothers and sisters.

  2. I have to admit I don't quite follow the logic that leads from my post to this comment. But if we are going to cite authors by their "foreign" names, we must at least spell them correctly--it should be Johannes Paulus.

  3. Ioannes Paulus PP. II
    Evangelium vitae
    To the Bishops
    Priests and Deacons
    Men and Women religious
    lay Faithful
    and all People of Good Will

    The spelling is from the encyclical itself...Don't know why the spelling is with an "I" instead of with a "J", but didn't want to change the original spelling as it is written/spelled in the document.

    What it means (to me) is that we are called to a higher order of "Life", and so by listening to that higher calling, one would automatically do the right right thing, whether in the presence of others (or the acknowlegment of others) or not. Your lesson just happened to bring me back (or triggered a memorty) to what I had remembered reading in this document.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

  4. It reminds me of a story told by a friend. She realized that she'd been given too much change at the store, and returned to the cashier to give the money back. The cashier asked her, "Are you a Christian?" and was surprised to find out she wasn't. The friend was sorta offended at the implication that non-Christians wouldn't have enough morals/sense of justice to return the extra money.