Golf’s Redemption

TigerWoodsOct2011Do you blame your guardian angel for not guarding you enough? Or, in the case of golf, is it your caddie? Or do you just throw your clubs (religion) away? Do you cheat – there’s always an excuse in both sports and in life. Do you whine? (It’s the priest’s fault, not mine.)

What if, as Thomas Friedman writes in The New York Times, you say two words to your guardian angel, I mean caddie: “Watch this. And then they pull off a remarkable shot that winds through the trees, over the hill and past the sand trap, avoids the pond on the left and lands right in the middle of the putting green.” Tiger Woods’ 11th hole.

Religion and golf. I don’t follow sports but any movie about sports, I never miss. “The Legend of Beggar Vance,” “41,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Hoosiers.” I’ve seen them all more than once. Now there’s “Draft Day” with Kevin Costner, a wonderful movie.

Religion calls for a union of “body, mind and spirt,” a worthy, fitting tribute from the created to the Creator. Augusta’s “perilous 16th hole, where he launched his ball on the perfect arc over the water, softly curbing right to left with the terrain and then landing the precise two-foot-diameter circle so that it would then roll 20 feet down the slope and stop 15 inches below the hole.” Golf’s union is “geography, geometry, physics, and psychology all working together in perfect unison.”

Speaking of union, Presidents Trump and Obama finally found agreement, both twittered Tiger with admiration. “One small step for mankind,” anyone?

From early success to a growing arrogance to snobby hubris to forced humiliation (is there any other kind?), to multiple back surgeries, philanderer (what a nice word for a stupid gigolo), divorce, DUI, addiction to painkillers, spine fusion and redemption at 43 years old. (Midlife changes people!)

Finally, life’s circle. His dad hugs him after his last victory and Sunday Tiger, the dad, hugged his two children complete with a green sportcoat for each weekday.

“Body, mind and spirit” is the Church’s recipe for not a win but for honoring  our Creator. And, it’s a good idea to have a birdie in your back pocket on judgment day. Just in case.


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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