The seventeenth hole at Crane Creek Reserve Golf Course (Melbourne Municipal Golf Course) is a challenging par 5 for me. This hole is 470 yards long. The first 400 yards are straight ahead off the tee. Water is along the right side and out of bounds is on the left. At the end of the straight fairway, there is a sharp dog leg right. The dog leg is a narrow strip of land between the water that is on the right and water that is beyond the hole. It takes an accurate shot to get to the green without losing a ball along the way.
Playing with my wife, Helen, the other day, I was pleased with my tee shot. It was straight down the middle of the fairway. However, I don’t hit the ball as far now as I did when I was younger. My suspicion is that today’s balls have been manufactured in such a way as to restrict the distance they will carry. Whatever the reason, my good tee shot had left me a long way from the dog leg.
My plan was to hit my second shot as far as possible toward the end of the fairway, leaving me with a short shot to the green. As often happens when I’m trying to hit the ball a long way, I swung hard which got me a little out of rhythm and off balance. I hit the ball fat, meaning I struck the ground before the ball. Instead of being where I’d planned, I only advanced the ball about 50 yards.
I still needed to get further down the fairway to have a shot at the green. The next shot was better, and I was left with a little over a hundred yards to the green. This was a doable shot. The only problem was that I hadn’t gotten past the water.
Water hazards on the golf course play games with my mind. The more I try to ignore them, the more they get in my way. My balls seem to have an attraction to water.
This time, I took plenty of club knowing I wanted to be sure to get over the water while at the same time wanting to block the water out of my mind. I visualized my shot arching high over the water and landing softly on the green by the cup, or perhaps in the cup.
Again, I swung hard. Instead of a fat shot, I hit it thin. The ball rocketed forward about 2 feet above the ground. As it got over the water it started to drop and then I saw a splash. What happened next was amazing. The ball skipped off the water onto the grass and rolled up to the edge of the green. It was like when as a boy I skipped flat rocks at the lake, however, this had happened with a round, white ball.
Helen hadn’t been paying attention to my struggles; she had enough of her own to worry about. Looking up, she saw my ball by the green and commented that it was a good shot. I had to tell her, “It was better than I deserved.”
“Isn’t grace a wonderful thing,” she said.
Grace was exactly what I’d experienced. But more important, grace is what I experience everyday through the redemption of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, the Lord is giving me “better than I deserve.”
Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”