Watching the PGA Tour coverage months ago, I saw a Spanish golfer known for his long drives, tee off. He swings, the shot looks good and long – but only for a few seconds . . . it lands in the bunker and not the fairway. The camera pans back to catch the tour player’s reaction and he obviously he utters a word in disgust. You don’t have to be a good lip reader to have guessed that he had uttered an unprintable expletive – bleeped silent by the TV network. For that matter, expletives are usually indeed unprintable and get bleeped.
Last month BCBP Makati Chapter had its annual retreat under Fr. Mario Bije. More than half a day was devoted to Cursing as well as Blessings. I would not have chosen this as the topic for this issue, but I took that retreat as a leading light. With me in that retreat were BCBP golfers Ronnie Caballero, Edmund Dy and Eric Gustilo.
By now you might be having an inkling of what this article is all about. Let me confirm that with this internet quote: “If profanity had an influence on the flight of the ball, the game of golf would be played far better than it is” ~ Horace G. Hutchinson. I have wavered many times about writing this topic as it touches many of my dear friends from within and outside of BCBP (You know who you are.)
Cursing in the golf course is widespread as in worldwide spread. Much denied, but much practiced nonetheless. Much tolerated, as well, since almost everyone has been guilty of it at one occasion or another. It has also been observed, but obviously to a much lesser degree within Brotherhood. One being a BCBP member and a golfer makes the topic more interesting and indeed challenging indeed. The common explanation offered by the brother golfer is: “Expression lang naman yun bro! nothing personal! I am mad at the ball and my clubs not at anybody”. Quite common as well is: “I am mad at myself for making such a lousy swing” . . . in effect cursing oneself which is a serious wrongdoing in itself. I guess that’s why being a caddy is not easy. They are always in the crossfire. That’s why they get tips.
Christian doctrine makes no distinction as to the object of cursing. It is clear about it whether it is directed an inanimate golf ball or uttered as a “nothing personal” expletive that casts “to whom it may concern” effect. But being BCBP members and playing in a public golf course, the challenge to set a Christian example must faced – not ignored nor denied. We need to be at least, be aware of that. After all, don’t we usually have an opening prayer before we tee off? Didn’t we all go thru the Culture talk of speech and wrong doing? Yes we did! Some of us have given talks about it ourselves!
In praise of BCBP golfer, the “Be Honest” cause (golf version) is faithfully observed and respected specially in scorecards and handicaps. Most of these chaps are quite generous with their words of praise and encouragement – especially to players whom they know they can outscore easily (like this writer). With that I am reminded that I have once come across suggestions from friends in the clergy. It sounds so simple and basic. Try to bless the other player’s game as well as yours. That even helps to alleviate the pressure from yourself. . . it works for me. This is not so easy when there is some betting involved – but that’s another topic altogether. Try blessing your game and others’. It helps one to be more aware of his proper Christian golf etiquette. The occasion to praise will outnumber the occasions to curse . . . hopefully.
Learn to forgive yourself after every banana slice off the tee or bombing a bunker shot on to the next bunker. After all, Tiger Woods has had his own share of double bogeys. Forget about the fact that he still makes more birdies than anybody else including you. The best advice I get before any BCBP round of golf is still “Let’s enjoy the game!” New golfers and high handicappers like me like that.
Last Sunday, during our Family Encounter rehearsals, Ronnie Caballero, my brother spiritual adviser and golf guru made a suggestion. Danny, he said, I am offering to be your “playing caddy” for one round just to help you correct your game. Admittedly not free entirely of my own lapses regarding gracious speech (Ronnie knows that), I am thinking of declining. But then again, I desperately need to improve my game. So I guess we are on.