Getting closer to God through golf
THERE'S a classic scene in the movie "Caddyshack" where a bishop is having a great golf round in a hurricane while Bill Murray caddies for him. As the weather gets worse, the bishop says, "The good Lord would never disrupt the best game of my life!" Then he misses a putt and is hit by lightning. Later, in the clubhouse bar, the drunken bishop says, "There is no God."
The Rev. Dan Chun, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu, would dispute that. In fact, based on a mystical vision by one of his congregation, Chun wants his church to buy the Koolau Golf Course, complete with its huge, swanky clubhouse built by Japanese speculators before the development bubble burst in the 1980s.
Buying the Kaneohe golf course is an inspired move by the Presbyterians because I'm convinced more prayers have been said on golf courses than in churches. Deals with God are made by golfers routinely ("God, let me make this putt and I'll never -- choose one -- drink, swear, cheat, gamble, fool around on my wife, etc., again").
I'm a lifelong Episcopalian, but if Chun pulls off this $20 million golf course purchase, I might just turn Presbyterian. I suspect his congregation will expand dramatically, and many wives (or husbands) will suddenly see their spouses slipping out of the house on Sunday mornings with their golf clubs. ("Gotta go to church, honey!")
FEW nongolfers realize what a spiritual place a golf course is. Many a "Thank You, Jesus" has been shouted after a good five-iron shot into a green or a chip-in from a nasty bunker.
It's also true that some golfers also have felt forsaken when their rounds went bad. Not just the bishop from "Caddyshack." After a particularly bad round, when it began to storm, a frustrated Lee Trevino held his one-iron in the air. The one-iron is a notoriously difficult club to play, but Trevino's golfing buddies were more concerned that lightning would strike the metal club. Trevino said calmly, "Even God can't hit a one-iron."
So, Rev. Chun, I'm praying your golf course deal goes through. When life is handing you slices, hooks and missed putts, maybe it is possible to get closer to God through a nice, straight drive. And salvation? As Bill Murray said in "Caddyshack," "It's in the hole."
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org