As a professional golfer, there is no greater pressure than that of having to go through qualifying school to gain your credentials to play on tour. It has been this way for over thirty years. The school is held only once a year, and only a few select players make the cut.

My first attempt to qualify was in 1971, when I missed the cut by three strokes. In 1972 I found myself back at the Silverado Country Club in Napa, California, trying once again. If I earned my qualifying card, I’d be able to play on the PGA tour that year. If I failed, it meant another year of playing minor tours around the country.


Dry grips make for better golf. Heck, Ben Crenshaw lost a chance to win a Masters because his grip was wet and it slipped in his hands as he played a shot on the 72nd hole of the tournament.

Davis Love III


During the final round of qualification, I found myself in great position. I’d posted some really good scores during the first three rounds, and all I needed was a decent finish to make the cut, somewhere around a 75 or a 76, I figured. I was sure I had it made.

Before the round I asked my caddy to wet the towel for me, assuming he knew I meant just a corner of it. On the secondtee box I discovered that he’d soaked the entire towel. Storm clouds were brewing, and it was too late to go back for a dry towel, so I hoped against hope that the rains would pass us by. They didn’t. By the eighth hole we were in a downpour, and I had no way to keep my grips dry. At Silverado the tenth tee is almost a mile from the clubhouse, so there was no way to get a dry towel at the turn. After the ninth hole I found myself in the shelter bathroom (outhouse, really), trying desperately to dry my grips with toilet paper. It wasn’t one of my better ideas. I wouldn’t advise that you try it—trust me on this.

My clubs were slipping and twisting every direction. With each shot, I searched in vain for another dry corner of my shirt, trying desperately to keep my hands in place, but everything was soaked to the bone. It was all I could do to hang on to the clubs, and my score was losing ground quickly. It took all the skill I could muster to make it to the green. Once there, I fought to keep my putterface straight enough to get the ball into the cup. By the seventeenth hole my grips were so slick that a 5-iron flew out of my hand and halfway down the fairway. It was one of the most frustrating rounds of my career.

Surprisingly, I was able to hang on well enough to post a 78 for the day, but that wasn’t good enough. I missed the cut by two strokes and had to face another year of mini-tours before getting the chance to try again.


“Most golfers prepare for disaster. A good golfer prepares for success.”

Bob Toski


That year I learned a lesson that has stayed with me to this day: Never underestimate the importance of taking care of your equipment and be prepared for anything. Whether it’s keeping your spikes clean, your gloves fresh and dry, your rain gear close at hand, your umbrella in your trunk, or a dry towel on your bag. You can spend years developing your skills, honing your swing, working on your short game, perfecting your putting stroke, but if your equipment isn’t working, your game will fall apart. If you can’t hang on to your clubs, your score is going to suffer—no matter how hard you’ve worked.

Prepared for God’s Service

There have been times when I’ve sensed the Lord feeling the same frustration with me that I felt that day on the course long ago. He takes hold of me by the grip, takes his stance, gets ready to make a shot, and suddenly I begin slipping out of his hands. Before the next shot he dries me off and makes another attempt, but once again I twist and turn and wriggle away, causing yet another duffed shot into the rough. Sometimes I even fly out of his hands entirely. In spite of his best attempts, my slippery grips continue to foil his plans for a solid shot. I can imagine his disappointment.

Thankfully, God is better at recovering than I am. In spite of my slick grips, he always seems to post the score he’s after.

The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to become “an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). That same advice is good for you and me.


“The best equipment in the world, used improperly, won’t elevate our game an inch.”

—John Freeman


As a follower of Christ, it’s my job to stay ready for anything, to keep myself in top condition, and to remain yielded to his will rather than pursuing my own agenda. I have a role in God’s golf bag, and when he needs me I should be ready, with a willing attitude and clean, dry grips—in essence, I must stay in his grip.

In real terms, staying in his grip means staying in his will and remaining disciplined, physically and spiritually. It means staying in prayer and continuing to seek God’s wisdom and vision for my life. I need to understand my purpose within his greater plan—what kind of club I am in God’s divine golf bag—and then allow myself to be refined for that unique and specific purpose. I must stay sharp, be prepared, and remain ready and willing. I must stay in God’s grip, dry and usable, fit for service at all times. I must stand with the prophet Isaiah and say to the Lord, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8).

Staying Clean and Sure

Since that frustrating day in 1972 when I failed to qualify, I’ve learned a new ritual. Before teeing off the first green, I always check one last time to make sure I have a clean, dry towel handy. One missed cut was enough for me.

I also have another ritual. Every morning, before my feet hit the floor, I pray that God would guide me through the day, that he would check for any hidden flaws or blemishes that might hinder me from his true purpose for me, that he would help me stay pliable and ready for anything.

My goal as a believer is to always offer God a clean heart and a sure, dry grip and to remain prepared for his use, whatever and whenever that might be. The last thing I want is to be left in the bag during one of God’s exciting and important rounds!

A Dry-Grip Tip

Players will often find themselves on a wet course with more than one club in their hands before shooting. I notice a lot of golfers choosing the club they want, then dropping the others onto the wet ground. Try instead taking a few seconds to stick a tee into the ground and then place the handle of your club across the top of it, keeping the grip propped up in the air. It’s quick and easy and will keep you from having to constantly dry off your clubs during play.