We were treated to some wonderful athletic achievements and some great, heart-warming stories, as well as some cruel losses and failures. The cruelest loss, however, came not from London but from Putt-Putt at Panama City Beach. I am recommending, by the way, to the Olympic Committee that Putt-Putt be added to the list of events. You see, the Davis family vacation always includes a very competitive round of Putt-Putt/Goofy Golf among the four of us. All we need for it to feel like the Olympics is a few judges or referees.
Like I said, it is highly competitive. My wife doesn’t play golf anymore. She did 20 years ago, but she only touches a golf club now once a year, and it happens to be one of those cheap Putt-Putt putters, built more for swatting flies than putting a golf ball. I, on the other hand, play golf, and pretty well, I might add. Our son also plays golf well. So, there is no way on God’s green earth that this match should be competitive between me and Sheri. You have competition only when the score is close.
Well, she can putt. I don’t know how she can, ’cause she doesn’t practice. Let me tell you, she can really putt. And on top of that, she is the luckiest person on the face of the earth. When I win these matches, it is skill, and when she wins it is luck. What else do you call it when someone putts a golf ball up a ramp, through a windmill, off a brick or two, and into the hole?
Well, she won. And I am none too thrilled about it. (Lest you think I’m exaggerating, she also won two years ago and the year before that.) Actually, this year I finished third out of four. I beat our 9-year-old daughter. I won the bronze medal; Sheri won gold. I will hear about it for a year until I have a chance at redemption in 2013. This has got to stop.
I know that competition has its place. It can be healthy. It can push us to do our best; it can teach us not to accept mediocrity. Our economic system is built on it — you must outdo the next guy. But I also know that unbridled competition leads to conflict. And I know that our worth shouldn’t be measured against the performance of others (though I felt like a louse for 24 hours after my humiliating defeat).
The Apostle Paul, who apparently never lost to his wife in Putt-Putt, once wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
In the meantime, does anyone know some place close by where I can practice putting through a clown’s nose?
Davis is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Carrollton.