Playing Beyond the Maddox Mark
Simply put, golf is grueling. Aside from the obvious physical challenges the game presents, there are countless mental hurdles one must overcome to excel on the links. I first played golf when I was 18 years old, when I was a “cart boy” at Brookstone Golf & Country Club. I purchased a set of old-school Wilson Staff blades found in the golf shop’s “lost and found” storage area for $30, and a 20-year old 10.5 degree no-name driver from the assistant golf professional, Devon Hayes. Thus, my illustrious golf career began.
Little did I know then that a mere four years later I would find myself working for the Georgia PGA in my first post-college job. One of the perks was playing free golf, and even getting free lessons from one of the very best teachers in the country, Danny Elkins. I became somewhat decent, shooting in the mid to upper 80s for a brief time (before I had kids). Over the course of my eight-plus years at the PGA, I had the privilege of playing quite a bit of golf on some of the very best courses in the state: Sea Island, East Lake, The Golf Club of Georgia, White Columns, Peachtree Golf Club, Settindown Creek, Hawks Ridge, Chestatee, and many more.
But, then my career changed. I began working for NorthStar Church, and I quickly went from playing golf a couple times each month to playing two or three times per year! You know how tough golf can be even when you play regularly. So, I went from hitting 280-yard drives and having a handicap in the high teens to being a liability when I played in a scramble or Pro-Am. It actually got to a point when I avoided playing golf because it was so unbearable – not just for me, but for my teammates!
I remember years ago when I was playing golf with Jamie Maddox, who is a friend and co-worker of mine at the church. He made the comment one hot day on the golf course, “Golf should only be 14 holes, not 18. Not only is it too hot to play more than 14 holes, but our (older, out-of-shape) bodies just aren’t made for it.”
Ever since then, my friend Steve Roach and I always refer to Jamie’s statement as we’re nearing the end of a round of golf. It seems inevitable that our swing mechanics have completely broken down once we complete 13 or 14 holes, and we begin to struggle mightily. In those moments, we admit defeat and say that we have “hit the Maddox Mark.”
You know, life can play out in similar fashion. Many times, we are doing well, making strides, doing good things. But, as we near the end of our assignment or approach our goals, we hit the proverbial “Maddox Mark.” The 14th Hole rears its ugly head, and we feel like we’re on the verge of a collapse.
Instead of giving in, we have an opportunity to persevere. To battle. To grind. To overcome.
The writer of Hebrews understood this, and implored us to use Christ’s example to propel us:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
Now, that is a different perspective! We could all use a reminder of Jesus’ “race” to the finish line – death on the cross, and his walk out of the tomb – where he won the ultimate victory for us! If that doesn’t motivate you, I’m not sure what else will do it.
Jesus far exceeded the Maddox Mark. So can you, when you look ahead to the joy you’ll experience when you see the checkered flag and God waving you Home!
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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