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The other night I had a dream; a dream that I was in heaven – golf heaven. I’ll share it. In heaven, there were caddies. None of us up above had any earthly affliction like arthritis, bad knees, bad backs or any other distracting ailments.
So we were free – free to walk. There were plenty of caddies who preferred the joy of coaching their golfers rather than playing. They were wonderful: polite, caring, alert, quick and subdued. And we could play any time at all, since, of course, in heaven there is no sunset or dawning. There were no golf carts, mainly because money doesn’t matter in heaven. Let’s face it: Golf carts are mostly about money; otherwise, there would still be caddies on earth at nearly every club or golf course. The heavenly golf crowd appreciates the history and beauty of the game; they’re sort of old school. Our caddies did not use GPS or laser-range finders. Up here what we see is what we get. Satellites are far, far away. Recently, Mr. Hogan stopped by. He said he always thought it would be like this: “You just have to see what to do and then feel the shot.” But he still doesn’t like to have to make a 6-foot putt for par.
I thought there would be no competition when I got to heaven. Oh, how wrong I was. The competition was really intense and fierce. But not like you may think. No trophies; no money; no bragging rights; no tour exemptions. No sandbaggers, cheaters, loudmouths or whiners. It’s about being the best you can be. About striving all out to reach your God-given potential. Yes, some fall short. No, they are not sent back down; they’re encouraged by everyone else with halos to simply apply their talents. Folks on Earth seem to secretly hope others in their group screw up so they themselves don’t look so bad. That’s all messed up. Over in the classical music group (up here) the same thing happens. People are supportive. They don’t berate or criticize or needle. Composing and playing music are both seen as sacred talents. The golfers also view their art as sacred, sort of like Johnny in “Seven Days in Utopia.” After my most recent round, I listened to Payne Stewart explaining to another player that he felt a surreal calm when he won the 1999 U.S. Open because he was at peace with the Lord himself. He then saw golf as a sacred mission.
Handicaps? That was a term not recognized in heaven. People used to dream on Earth of everyone being “equal,” but they still wanted their own advantage if they could get one. Well, here it was, complete equality. Everyone played the same game with the same chances under the same rules. Folks gave no quarter nor took any quarter. Yes, there were a number of pro teachers, and if you were instructed as how to do something with a golf club in your hand, and you failed to comprehend or practice that method, well, that was too bad. You had all your bodily functions – no disability, no aging – then you probably should do as you were taught. Even in heaven it was your choice to perform as the golf swing was intended. No flailing or hit-and-giggle golf. No one felt bad or angry about mishits; you just resolved to do better next time. No club throwing, excuses or temper tantrums just because things didn’t go as expected. Those childish behaviors were left on Earth. And one more thing. I noticed that not a soul golf nervous. One heavenly player said to me, “Each moment is a blessed moment, perfect in every way, so what’s to worry about.” True. Golfers on Earth worry too much.
In the morning after my dream of heavenly golf I remembered something about being told as a boy that if you entered heaven you therefore had supernatural powers, and you could expect everything to happen as you wanted it to. Not true. Golf is not like that, according to St. Peter: “Even here you have to put intelligent effort into your performance in order to get the desired results.” I then mentioned to St. Peter that we were told that every shot would be awesome and every putt would go in. “No son,” he said, “that would be golfing in hell.”
Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.