Serving the Master at the Master’s – Aaron Baddeley

Aaron Baddeley

This is the third post about Christian golfers playing in this week’s Master’s Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.  Today, we will look at the story of Aaron Baddeley.  Born in Lebanon, New Hampshire,(his dad worked in Indy cars with Mario Andretti) then moving to Australia at the age of 2. Baddeley made a name for himself as an 18 year-old amateur when he won the Australian Open tournament in 1999 and earned a special invitation to participate in the 2000 Master’s where he missed the cut by 1 stroke.  He would defend his Australian Open title a year later, but between those victories, he came close to giving up the game altogether.

He began playing golf at age 8 and took it seriously, setting goals of playing PGA tour golf by the age of 21.  But he also had a knowledge and understanding of who God was, and enjoyed sharing about his relationship with Jesus.  In fact, as you can read in this article from Augusta.com, he even tossed around the idea of being a preacher, and still jumps at the chance to tell whoever will listen, about Jesus.

He knew that God needed to be important in his life, but he found himself spending less and less time in church and with God, and more time on the Golf course.  As you can hear in this story on Baddeley by CBN, he knew that he was heading the wrong direction, focusing more on golf and improving his game then he was working on his relationship with God.  And his game was suffering. He was missing cuts, playing poorly, and less than a year after winning the Australian Open as an amateur, he was ready to give up the game for good.

Instead, he turned his focus back to God, and reset his priorities to let God again be number 1.  He devoted more time to studying God’s word, and his game rebounded.  He went on to defend his title at the 2000 Australian Open and has since become a top 20 golfer in the world.
Here is a feature that CBN did on Baddeley:

Hear Baddeley, Tom Lehman and Bubba Watson share their stories at Highland Church in Scottsdale, Arizona by clicking on this link.

Here are a couple of things that I thought were great points that he made in the articles and videos that I used for this post.

He talked about how he thought maybe he would be a preacher, but God called him to golf. And by pursuing golf and intentionally seeking to honor God with his life,  he is getting opportunities to share what God is doing in his life, and challenge others to keep God as a priority.  Isn’t it cool how God works.  He gets to do both!

Aaron and Richelle Baddeley

I also completely get what he is talking about when he says that he has learned a lot about God’s unconditional love through his marriage to Richelle.  Marriage is a great way to get to know God’s character.  When you are dating someone, there are still places to hide the parts of yourself that you are not proud about.  You can still put your best out for your significant other to see.  But when you are married, those places to hide start to disappear.  The “you” that you try to hide from everyone else gets more and more visible and there is nowhere else left to hide.  My wife sees me at my worse and chooses to love me anyway.  She is loving, forgiving and patient with me.  I am learning more and more about these same things from God when I see God working in her to show me these things through her.

 

Leaderboard Update:

The Saturday Rounds have begun.  At the end of Friday, here are the results of the 3 players that I have blogged about:

Fred Couples and Jason Dufner lead the way,  Bubba Watson is tied for 3rd, 1 shot back.  Baddeley and Ben Crane are tied for 11th, 3 strokes off the lead.  It is very close right now – it is promising to be a great weekend in Augusta!

Serving the Master at the Master’s – Bubba Watson

Bubba and his Pink Driver

This is my second blog about golfers that you will see in action if you check out any of the Master’s tournament in Augusta, GA.  Today, we will dig in to the story of Bubba Watson, one of the most popular players on the PGA tour,   He is known for being self-taught, and for his incredible driving.  That is, he is known for his long shots off the tees, the look of his drivers (the famous pink shafts) and what he drives (he owns the original “General Lee” car from the Dukes of Hazard)

Bubba at the Wheel of the Original General Lee

To explain why I am a fan of Bubba Watson, I’ve got a funny story to share about my first ever experience with Golf.  I took a golf class in college, because I wanted to try golf out and see if I liked it.  There are few things that are less elegant than a beginning golfer taking his/her first hacks at the little dimpled ball.  I was as unelegant as they come.  My shots, if they would get in the air at all, would have a vicious slice to them.  So I thought, like all beginning golfers do, that it must be something wrong with my golf club!  (Couldn’t possibly be the golfer could it – I mean I’ve been honing these skills for a full 8 minutes!) So I did what made the most sense.  I took my loaner 5 iron back to the rack and perused the selection for the club that would carry out it’s task of hitting the ball straight.  Well, the only clubs left were left handed, and the one that I returned was a righty.  “Well”, I thought, “It’s not going to be a worse result!” so I grabbed the cleanest lefty club and went back to my spot.  And I found that I was correct.  My shots were traveling significantly straighter.  So from that point on, I became a left-handed golfer (except on the green – for some reason I have more success from the right side – must be all that ambidextrous mini golf training from my younger days)

Anyway, that is a long story to let you know that I take notice and appreciate all the lefties that I see on the PGA tour.  (and there are really not that many of them).  Bubba Watson, though, is a lefty, and as I looked into his story, I came to find out that we have some more things in common too.  We are both competitive, and if we are not cautious, that competitiveness can result in frustration that shows itself through tantrums.  Here is a story from CBN about Bubba Watson and his tantrums that got so intense that his caddy vowed to quit if they continued. For more detail on their conversation you can check out this article by Bruce Berlet found at snegolfer.com.

This part of Bubba’s story resonated with me because I know that I have battled being uber-competitive in my life.  I remember countless times when I would get frustrated and flip out in a small (or occasionally bigger than small) tantrum.  One difference was that most of my play involved pick up games or church league games – not professional vocational competition.  As I write this, I remember a friend of my on a church softball team kinda calling me out for my attitude and behavior.  I didn’t receive it very well.  I dismissed it and continued to do the same things.  It is only here and now, reading this article, that I wish I had been able to take his advice and reign in my physical displays of frustration.  It  would have made me a more pleasant teammate to be around.  Have any of you noticed how important perspective is to things that are troubling us.  Shanking a tee shot on the 2nd hole is not a serious issue.  Popping out the pitcher with the bases loaded in a church-league softball game is not a serious issue.  Good friends can help us gain perspective – and sometimes it requires hard intervention.  Thankfully, Watson listened to the advice offered to him by his caddy.

And that caddy, Teddy Scott, had another special place in the life of Bubba Watson.  Check out this story from Bubba Watson’s website about the part Teddy played in Bubba’s father coming to Christ.  He wrote a letter to Bubba’s dad, Gerry, who was battling cancer and was not a believer in Christ.  Through the letter and the faith-sharing of Watson and Scott, Gerry Watson gave his life to Christ before he passed away.

It is so amazing to see how God works in the lives of his people.  I have seen God at work in my own life, changing me, molding me into the Christian, husband, father, friend and c0-worker I am called to be.  There is still a lot of work to do, but He is faithful to work it out in His way.  I love to see how God is working in the lives of others, too.  That is the heartbeat behind this blog. I wish success to come to those that I write about – but success in God’s eyes.  A chance to live life out loud for Him and let others see and know what He is doing in their lives.  I hope Bubba Watson and his story spoke to you as they did to me.

And congratulations to Bubba and his wife Angie, who recently (like 2 weeks ago) adopted a baby boy!

Leaderboard Check:

At the end of day 1 of the Masters, Lee Westwood leads.  As far as the guys that I have blogged about…  Watson and Ben Crane are both currently tied for 4th.  We’ll check in tomorrow to see how round 2 goes.

 

Serving the Master at the Master’s – Ben Crane

The Master’s Championship is happening this week in Augusta, Georgia.  It is one of the great sporting events each year.  The Master’s has an unmatched blend of a great competition and austere history and tradition.  It is one of the PGA’s 4 major tournaments, but the only one that happens on the same course every year, and as such, it has a certain pomp that draws even casual gold fans to join the die hard enthusiasts.

This year, I am going to (hopefully) spend the next few days highlighting some members of this year’s field that are among the best golfers in the world, but also that have a relationship with God that they rely on to carry through the good and the hard times.  We will begin with Oregon native, Ben Crane.

As I looked in to his story, I found these facts and stats about his golf game.

He has 7 wins as a pro (4 on the PGA, 3 on other pro tours). The most recent coming last October – according to Wikipedia, it was the day before his daughter Saylor was born.

He has finished as high as 9th (tie) in a major, and his best showing at the Master’s is a tie for 25th.  He is known as one of the slowest, most deliberate players on the PGA tour, and also known as one of the funniest and most likable guys on tour.  Here is a glimpse of some of the fun to be had with Ben Crane – one of the 4 members of the all-PGA boy band “Golf Boys”.

You can click here to see the video of their song “Oh, Oh, Oh”

And check out this video response to his “slow play”

But while he may not take himself too seriously (that red outfit he is wearing in the video is evidence of that) he does take his faith in God very seriously.  As you can read in this article found at Faithwriters.com, he is precise and exacting, which consumed him as he constantly sought to better his game.  Golf was #1 in his life until he met a pastor at his home golf club and through the building of their relationship, he decided to live his life for God.  He still is diligent in his work on his gold game, but his perspective in from God’s purposes.  He desires to use golf as a platform to share God with others.  And God has given Crane some great places to impact lives.  He has given Crane some great accountability in friends too, like his friend Mark Teixiera of the New York Yankees.  He is using his web site to impact others, too.  He offers videos on improving your golf game (as well as more videos like the one above).  But also on his website, he has devotional thoughts and readings about God and living life for Him.

The Foundation that he and his wife started (The Ben and Heather Crane Foundation) also supports and raises money for H.O.P.E. Farm – an organization that runs an after school program for boys without fathers.  and also Love 146 – an organization that ministers to, and aids children who have been recovered from the sex trafficking trade in Asia.

So, if you are a casual golf fan, or a die-hard, looking for who to cheer on at the biggest golf tournament of the year, I would like to recommend Crane, and the others that I will focus on over the next couple of days as valid possibilities, if not for any other reason that with the biggest audience of the year, there will be a chance to proclaim what God is doing in their life, both through word and action.  Enjoy the tournament!

Amazing Racers – The Story of Andy Finch

I am a big fan of the TV show “Amazing Race”.  I think it appeals to my love of travel and my fascination of other cultures around the world.  I have watched many of the seasons, though not all of them, and each year I have a team that I find myself rooting for.

This time around, I think it is the team of Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin – professional snowboarders from California.  They have been doing well, and unlike most teams that compete, have been completely laid back the whole journey thus far.

When looking into who they were, I came across Andy Finch’s story on a cool website for ThisIzMyStory ministries.  They are a ministry that exists to spread the story of what God is doing in and through the lives of a handful of surfers, wakeboarders, snowboarders and more (Brian Jennings and Bethany Hamilton included).  Check out the video below.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/PDbwlwbdQZc?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0

Through his story, we see why he seems so laid back on the show.  He has had to deal with some hard times in his life – and now he is taking advantage of a chance to travel around the world, see some sights and enjoy it all as he does it.

He has some other videos both of his snowboarding and lessons about God he is learning from snowboarding on the YouTube channel for thisizmystory

Jake Sawyer – Olympic Swimmer

It is fun to share the story of of Christian athletes, sharing their faith through sports and life. It is even more fun when I get to share the story of someone that I know personally.  Today I’m going to share the story of a young man from here in the greater Twin Cities metro area – My friend Jake.
Jake Sawyer is a swimmer that will be representing the USA at the Special Olympics in Greece at the end of the month.  He did some Polar Plunges as part of the fund raising process.  (For those of you that don’t know what that is, it means he jumps into a lake in Minnesota, in February – No Thanks!) You can check out the web site for the event here.
He is excited about all that lies ahead, and I am very excited about this opportunity for him.  He is a great guy, who loves sports, movies, giving out hugs and smiles.  He also loves God, and God’s loves shines from within him.  I am praying for him and know that he will have a great experience in Greece (I am more than a little bit jealous about his trip – I’ve always wanted to go to Greece – He will spend 3 weeks there, starting on Friday of this week)
One of our local news stations did a short feature on him.  Check out the video here.

Go get `em Jake!