Written by Bob Schindler, Executive Director of CEDE Partners – an Initiative of CEDE Sports
I had just played the best round of golf in my life..
The round came on the last day of the crucible of PGA Tour Qualifying School, or Q School as it is often called. According to John Feinstein, “The chances of getting from first stage to second stage to the finals and the PGA Tour are pretty close to 100-to-1….In fact, most of the players who enter Q School will never make it to the tour. Only about one-third of them will ever make it to the finals, and about half will never make it out of the first stage.”
I spent two years preparing for this, my first Q School. The top 15 would advance to the finals for the privilege of playing on the PGA Tour. After three days of play, I started the final day in 33rd place out of the 144 golfers. Teeing off, I felt the pressure and knew it would take something special for me to advance.
The events of that round were almost magical, but I didn’t begin to realize that until I got to the fifth hole, the toughest hole on the course. After a great drive, I hit a one iron s to 15 feet and drained the putt to go to 2 under par. “Game on,” I thought. I went on to hit every fairway and 17 of 18 greens shooting what became the low round of the day. Now I had to wait while the 32 golfers with lower scores who teed off after me finished their rounds.
I had a mixture of emotions in those 90 minutes. On one hand, I felt great excitement for the performance I managed in light of the challenge before me as I teed off that morning. I played other sports. I had been in other tense situations that included some anxiety but nothing like the nerves I faced at Q School. It was exciting to play well amid such pressure.
On the other hand, I was afraid, afraid to hope, afraid that if I hoped too deeply and wanted it too much, it would be yanked away from me. In the fear, I resisted the encouragement from fellow players about my round and their hopes it would be low enough to qualify. As my position continued to rise, I worked harder to downplay it all. Trying to keep at bay the hope that was trying to rise in my heart.
As the final group finished and the results were posted on the scoreboard, I stood there in amazement. My round moved me from 33rd to a tie for 14th with five other players. Dictating a playoff among the five of us for the final two spots, 14th and 15th.
It started to drizzle as the five of us headed to the first tee. The rain increased as we stood getting ready to tee off, so much so that I almost asked the official to delay the start. I didn’t, nor did any of the other players, probably because we were all trying to keep a grip on our steadily growing nerves.
The playoff began. I bogeyed the first hole and was out. Just like that. After two years of preparation, four days of golf, four hours to play the final round, two hours of waiting—it was over.
The other four players headed to the next tee. I went in a much different direction as I trekked back to the clubhouse alone, what little hope I had now vanished. I tried to console myself and overcome my disappointment by thinking about the excitement of the good play that day that got me there. It wasn’t helping.
When I got to the clubhouse, I called my wife, Beth. While not at the qualifying site physically, she had been on the journey every step of the way. As I called her, I was keenly aware of the several ways in that last round that my score could have been lower. I left two putts hanging over the lip – one downhill defying gravity – two deep lip outs of putts that actually came back at me, and one frustrating 90-degree lip out on a 5-foot birdie putt. If one of those five putts go in, I advance.
I was also aware of the reality that if my play in the other three days had changed up or down one shot, I wouldn’t have been in the playoff. I would have either qualified in the 14th spot with those other 4 playing off for the 15th spot or I would be out of the playoff altogether.
As I called Beth to tell her about what happened, I had in mind a very personal question –
“Did God care who won that day?”
I want you to imagine you are on the other end of that phone call. I ask you this question. How would you answer?
It seems like a simple question yet it’s an immensely complex subject. If you say yes, does that mean God favors the winners more than the losers? If you say no, does that mean that there are things in the world that God cares about and others that he doesn’t?
There are no simple answers to this question. However, the answer does matter. It certainly mattered to me. Certainly it matters to anyone who has ever missed a penalty kick or made the game-winning shot. To anyone who coached an undefeated team, or counseled a defeated athlete.
It matters because we definitely care about who wins. The question is “Does God?”
Bob Schindler has written a book to delve deeper into this question. See this resource page for more information about the book, how to get a copy, as well as FREE resources to use this book in your ministry.