Wise Guy, Eh?

Wisdom in a Golf Shot

Harvey Penick was the golf coach at the University of Texas from 1931 to 1963 and the golf mentor for some of the truly great golf professionals of all-time. These golfers include Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Kathy Whitworth, Betsy Rawls and Mickey Wright. They returned to Penick even after years on the pro-golfers’ circuit to seek his help with their putting, chipping, and long-iron play.

Like any good coach, Penick was a careful observer who learned how to golf from watching others. In fact, for decades Penick scribbled his random observations about golf into a notebook.

One day he mentioned these golf diaries to a writer named Bud Shrake. Shrake saw the publishing potential in Penick’s notebooks and collaborated with him on a book published in 1992 under the title Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf.

The Little Red Book sold more than a million copies, becoming the best-selling Sports book in history. Penick was 87 years old.

Most older people haven’t wrote a Little Red Book, but like Penick observing golfers, they have observed life and learned important things the hard way. A wise person takes seriously the wisdom of older people. This piece of wise advice goes against the grain of our culture.

Don’t Lose your Soul

There are many today who, like Ruth Gordon in Chaim Potok’s novel “The Promise”, want to go to great lengths to convince us that they are “all mind, all molded and formed by the century in which she had been born…..” Sometimes people try to be so clever and avant-garde that they end up losing their soul in the process without realizing it. What is even more tragic is that these people tend to surround themselves with friends who think the same way.

No generation, no ethnic group, no socioeconomic class, no male or female has the corner on wisdom. We all can learn from each other. This is why the Judeo-Christian Scriptures puts such a premium on a teachable spirit. For example in Proverbs 16:18,20 we read these words:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall……..Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

Our present science establishment has made many wonderful discoveries and advancements in the last 200 years. And for that I am profoundly grateful. But the science establishment has also given us the nuclear bomb and acid rain. Many in the science establishment believe we are only material beings. This is a radically narrow view of what a human being is.

About a generation ago, the scientist Carl Sagan made a declaration on his television special, “The Cosmos”, that the visible earth is the only thing that ever was, is and will be. He presented this statement as a fact. Many people did not realize that this kind of declaration is not good science. How can you demonstrably prove or disprove this assertion?  You can’t,  because it is a faith statement of a materialist. It is the same kind of declaration when a Christian or observant Jew say that “Yahweh God was and is and will be and He is the only self-sufficient One.”

No one has the corner on wisdom in this world. Let us be teachable and not be afraid where our truth-seeking will take us.

QOTD: Do you possess a humble heart and a teachable spirit?