The Church and the Country Club

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

The Golf Gods: Towards a Religious Philosophy of Golf

The Church and the Country Club

The church my wife attends was mobilizing a fund raising campaign to build a new worship complex. I am an “associate member” of the church, but one may have already detected my lack of enthusiasm for traditional, organized religion. My wife, Jennifer, is substantially more active than I, and asked how much we were going to contribute to the building campaign. I responded, “Contribute an amount with which you are comfortable. For my part, however, I already contribute enough to my chosen institution of worship, Golden Eagle Golf and Country Club.” It seemed reasonable to me. She contributes to an institution that brings her happiness, and I contribute to an institution that brings me happiness. I did not, however, get a lot of support for the idea that my golf and country club was a religiously sanctioned institution. I did offer to bring my sand wedge and join in the ground breaking ceremony for the new church, but that comment was not well received either.

Nevertheless, the church and the country club may have more in common than traditional religious folk would like to admit. Granted, country clubs are generally business enterprises whose primary interest lies in profit, and churches are generally “nonprofit” organizations whose primary mission is ministry. Further, though there appear to be many “churches” whose primary interest is also profit, I am unaware of any country clubs whose primary mission is ministry. Nevertheless, as this book attests, golf clubs do minister to the golfer’s heart and soul.

“What nonsense,” you say, “to compare the church and the country club!” The church, after all, does not have a pool, gymnasium, weight room with steam and sauna, billiard parlor or game room, bowling alley, grill or dinner. “Oh wait,” I say, “many contemporary churches do offer these facilities.” These facilities are housed in what are called “Christian Life Centers,” or something of the sort, and they have significantly blurred the distinction between church and country club. Churches have encroached upon the role of the country club in this regard, and the only thing that keeps some churches from becoming country clubs is the lack of a golf course.

What appears most lacking in the country club, as far as concerns a religious mission, is social ministry. Yes, golf clubs help generate support for various charities (Toys for Tots, Christmas Connection, Boys and Girls Town, educational foundations, hospitals, medical research, etc.), they help generate support for junior golf, and they may help generate support for individual members who have come upon hard times. But, I am unaware of any clubs that contribute directly to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, or clothing warehouses. The church is, or ought to be, more socially minded than the country club; or perhaps, to be more fully religious, the country club needs to take on a stronger social commitment.

Whatever the case, for me worship services begin at 11:50 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The Reverend Doctor Roy M. Barineau (or someone similarly qualified) will be presiding. Hopefully, the services last no longer than four hours. There are no sermons, but I assure you that the name of God will be mentioned (for good and for ill) on many occasions. Every player is a deacon or presbyter bound to guard the game of Golf against perversions. Those who break the rules will be shunned and prohibited from attending future services. Refreshments will be served during and after the ceremonies. There will be fun and fellowship, and offerings will be collected.

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

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