Spare a thought this week for the American golfer, Kyle Stanley. In his first few seasons of professional golf, this week Stanley almost won his first ever PGA title. Coming into the last round he had a comfortable 6 shot lead. Half way through his round he extended the lead to 7. Coming into the last hole, a par 5, which for pro golfers are normally the easiest holes, Stanley led by 3 strokes. He hit two solid shots up the 18th fairway, only to see his third approach shot to the green land safely but roll back down a slope into a water hazard. After taking a penalty Stanley landed what was his fifth shot on the back of the green and then he three putted for a three over par 8. That meant he tied with Brandt Snedeker, who probably could not believe his good fortune. The tie was decided in a sudden death play off one more hole. Amazingly Stanley recovered to score one under par (a birdie) the next hole, but Snedeker matched him. On the second play off hole, following his opponent’s par, Stanley again three putted the hole and lost by one stroke. If you are not a golfer you may not understand all of the technicalities, but you will understand this. By finishing second Stanley earned $US 648,000, but had he won he would have earned $US 1.08 million, meaning his last hole meltdown cost him $US 432,000.
At times golf looks unnervingly like life. Defeat often reappears just when we thought victory was at hand. Life unravels more quickly than we imagine when a mistake, a misjudgement, a misadventure or a misdemeanour can sometimes redirect our life with alarming speed.
Just ask Kerry O’Brien, one of the ABC’s much-loved political journalists. O’Brien found himself in court this week after a speed camera nabbed him travelling more than 30kms over the speed limit. A three-month licence suspension was surely not in his plan for 2012. Some will be very judgemental but many others will remember, at least on an odd occasion, when they have done the very same thing, but fortunately without a camera around to record and convict.
Life can change very rapidly for any of us. The Bible never promises anything less. There are no false promises that our golf swing, our marriage, our business, our family, or even our health will not fall apart. What the Old Book promises is a relationship with the God of the universe who takes a personal interest in our plight. Knowing God is to know the One who is indeed our rock, our support, our strength and our guide.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46: 1-4