A few lessons from the Masters

Published 9:35 pm Friday, April 17, 2015

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Just a week ago, golfers were locked in a pitched battle to see who would reign as the 2015 Masters champion. Eventually, the title was grasped by 21-year-old Jordan Spieth of Texas, who shot a dramatic 18-under-par for the tournament.

If you like golf, chances are you love the Masters. Even if you don’t play golf, it is the one tournament you have probably heard of. In many ways, it is the Super Bowl of golf. It is a special tournament, and it is played in a special setting, Augusta National golf course in Augusta, Ga.

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What makes the Masters so special, and what can even non-golfers learn from it?

First, everyone can appreciate beauty. Augusta National is set on land that used to be a nursery, a place where spring flowers were grown.

When the land was developed into a golf course, the founder, Bobby Jones, decided to retain the feel of that flowering beauty. In fact, all 18 holes are named after some type of flower or tree. And since the tournament is always played in April, the azaleas and dogwoods and God’s other lovely signs of spring are in full bloom.

I have been blessed to attend the Masters on a couple of occasions, and I felt like I was entering a modern Garden of Eden.

And that brings us to application No. 1 from the Masters: Don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t get out and enjoy the beauty that God has brilliantly crafted.

Take a walk or a run or a bike ride. Breathe deeply. Look around. It’s amazing out there. We are blessed to live in an area with loads of natural springtime beauty. Enjoy it, and thank God for it. It will elicit your praise and help eliminate your stress.

Something else we can learn from the Masters is a virtue that is much in need today, and that is civility.

One of the things I like about golf is the courtesy that is typically displayed. There is no taunting or chest thumping. Players are expected to treat competitors with respect, deference and friendliness. If you are a man, you are expected to be a gentleman. If you are a woman, you are expected to be a lady.

(Speaking of which, I hope Tiger Woods can regain his form and rebuild his life, but his frequent vulgarities when he hits a poor shot are so incredibly out of place, especially at the Masters.)

That brings us to application No. 2: In a world where people are frequently rude, unkind and out of control, strive to be the opposite. Hold yourself to the highest standard in this area. Our world of incivility needs it badly.

Fortunately, the new Masters champion, Jordan Spieth, is the epitome of a gentleman. The same can be said for some of the other young stars of golf, like Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler, Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer.

These guys know how to act. They are in control of their tongues and their emotions. That’s another thing I love about golf. To play your best, you have to maintain a sense of balance and equilibrium and inner peace.

Actually, that’s how we play best on and off the course.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.