It’s Good To Be Humbled

Brent, our church’s first pastor and the man who trained me, was back in town to visit and speak in our church.

Knowing he loved the sport, a number of golfers in the church decided to take him to a local course following the Sunday meeting. Though I’m not a golfer they invited me along for the fun and fellowship.

It was a drizzly day, but we were committed. Because all the other guys were golfers, they were prepared for the weather and had rain gear, hats, etc. I came completely unprepared. So in the clubhouse I secured a large trash bag, which I made into a makeshift parka by slitting holes for my head and arms.

Neither did I have golf shoes like everyone else. I wore tennis shoes which provided no traction whatsoever, especially on wet grass.

So Mr. Doofus in his trash bag and slippery shoes strode out of the clubhouse to take on the fairway.

I was miserable all afternoon. Dripping wet, and slipping constantly in my tennis shoes, I occasionally needed help getting up the slopes on the course. When I’d get ready to drive the ball, the wind would come up beneath me and inflate the trash bag, impeding my swing. Many times I’d barely nick the top of the ball, driving it a good, oh, four inches. Other times I’d miss completely. And when I did manage to connect, I ejected balls into woods, water and other dimensions never to return again.

By the time we got to the last hole, I was thoroughly disgusted. I’m pretty sure my mocking buddies weren’t even keeping my score. And I was wet to the bone despite my billowing trash bag. Sidling up to my ball on the tee, I looked toward the hole. It lay off in the distance beyond a pond. I decided I was going to smash the ball as hard as I could. Cream it. Crush it. I imagined everyone’s jaws dropping as my ball vanished into the heavenlies, only to reappear on the green, 2 inches from the hole.

I whipped the club back over my shoulders as far I could. Vertebrae cracking, neck craning at an inhuman angle, I could see the whole club dangling before me. With all my might I brought the club around, breaking the sound barrier.

Unfortunately, the head of the club plowed into the grass a full foot in front of the ball. The forward motion of the club stopped, but the powerful torque I’d generated, in combination with the slick bottoms of my tennis shoes on the wet grass, launched my feet arcing skyward. I hung suspended in the air. I saw scenes from my childhood. I left my body, coolly taking in the whole scene from above. Then suddenly I slammed onto my back, splattering the soaked earth, hands and feet flailing.

My friends convulsed and squealed with laughter like stuck pigs. “I can’t believe you did that!” one screamed, gasping for air. “I wish I had a video camera,” another shrieked, tears streaming from his eyes. “I’d have $10,000 on Funniest Videos.” It was a full five minutes before anyone could compose himself enough to play. And they told and retold the tale with raucous guffaws every time another foursome returned to the clubhouse.

I forgave them, of course, because it was funny and I know how to laugh at myself. But someday they’ll be sorry when they find horse heads in their golf bags.

photo by leonrw

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.