A number of years ago I got the chance to take my fourteen-year-old son, Blake, with me to watch the Masters tournament. When Blake was born I was no longer on the tour full-time, and he had never had an opportunity to see me play professionally. But he had spent many an hour over the dinner table listening to stories of the courses I had played and the people I had played with, and it was a thrill to finally be able to share a piece of my past with him. Blake had always especially loved the stories of Gary Player and couldn’t wait to meet him.

As we stood along the ropes of the seventh tee box, I retold some of the old tales of my days on the tour. I was busy telling Blake again about the time I once pitched in for birdie on the sixth hole on Saturday of the Masters. Blake’s eyes grew wide as I shared the account from the very place at which it had happened.

 

“I wish every golfer could have the kind of golfing education I had. I wish every child could have the kind of father I had. If someone could grant me those wishes, the world would be a better place, and scoring averages would be a lot lower, too.”

–Davis Love III 

 

Suddenly we looked up and saw Gary Player making his way to the tee box. At that moment it hit me that it had been over twenty years since I had stood with Gary during a practice round on this very tee box. He still looked so young and fit I found it hard to believe.

Gary saw me in the gallery and had a few minutes to kill, so he made his way over to say hello. He shook Blake’s hand and we reminisced a bit. Then he turned to Blake and told him of the time I had ruined his rain gear and stunk up his bag. Blake listened with excitement, though I knew he had heard the story hundreds of times before.

It happened in 1968 when I was caddying for Gary during the Houston Open.

I had slipped a few bananas into Gary’s bag as a quick snack for us on the course. I then forgot the bananas were in there, and a week later, while playing in New Orleans, a downpour erupted on the course. Gary said to me, “Reach into my bag and get me my rain gear and a clean glove.”

I stuck my hand into the pocket of his bag and heard a loud squishing sound. Even Gary heard it. I pulled out a mass of rubber covered in black gook. The smell was atrocious, and everyone near me took a few steps back to gasp for air. I tried my best to separate the glove from the slicker, frantically wiping off the rotting bananas, but to no avail. Gary was forced to play the rest of the round drenched and struggling to hold on to his club with a wet glove.

At the time I had felt like an idiot, but it was good to see that Gary could look back on it and laugh. And I loved seeing Blake’s eyes light up as he listened to the tale again, this time from the great Gary Player himself.

Of all the joys I’ve been blessed to experience during my career in golf, none compare to the thrill I get from sharing my passion for the game with my children. There’s nothing greater than getting to bring your kids into the sport, teaching them the mechanics and nuances of the swing, working with them on the range and on the course, sharing the rich history of the game with the people you love the most.

One of the great gifts God has given me is the opportunity to spend time on the course with my kids, allowing me the chance to mentor them both in golf and in life.

I encourage you to do the same. Use your love of the game to draw closer to the ones you love the most and create a bond that will never be broken.

 

When Your Mentor Mentors

During that same trip to watch the Masters tournament, Blake and I had the opportunity to attend a Fellowship of Christian Athletes prayer breakfast for the players and fans. It was great hearing the testimonies from many of the professionals about their faith in Christ and how he has used them for his glory in their lives and on the course. But even better, I loved that Blake was there to hear their stories with me. That morning made an indelible impact on his faith and life.

 

“I try to learn from everyone. I look at their strengths and ask myself, “What can I do better.””

–Annika Sorenstam 

 

Later that afternoon, Blake and I were asked to help teach a junior golf clinic at a local club, and I got a chance to see him interacting with another young man—a boy who was terminally ill and had been brought to Augusta by the Make-a-Wish Foundation to watch the tournament. I had to fight back the tears as I watched Blake work with this young man, spending most of the afternoon helping him with his swing and making him feel special. Seeing my young son pass on his passion to this little boy and mentor him on the course brought more joy to my heart than I can possibly put into words.

 

Where’s Your Man? 

I have the greatest respect for the Navigator Ministry, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. More than any organization that I’m aware of, they have done outstanding work around the globe to bring people to Christ and then to mentor them in their new faith.

The Navigators bring to the body of Christ a unique philosophy of spiritual growth through discipleship. Dawson Trotman, the founder of this worldwide organization, was a firm believer not only in leading people to salvation but in working with them afterward, mentoring them and teaching them how to share their faith with others. He called it “spiritual multiplication”—a term that is still used to embody the ministry’s philosophy and role within God’s earthly kingdom.

 

“I’m just a plowhand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together—how to lift some men up, how to calm others down, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together as a team.… That’s all it takes to get people to win.”

–Coach “Bear” Bryant 

 

The Navigator’s philosophy is grounded in Dawson’s understanding of 2 Timothy 2:2. In this verse, Paul is talking to Timothy, his spiritual son, and says to him, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” This passage, Dawson explains, is a charge for Christians to sow into the lives of others, from generation to generation. Just as Paul mentored Timothy, he encourages him to mentor other believers, who will in turn pass their faith on to others. It’s a simple principle, yet more effective than any other I’ve seen.

When meeting with other believing men, Dawson was well known for his habit of turning to another man and asking, “Where’s your man?” What he meant by that phrase was, “Who are you mentoring right now in your life?” He was a firm believer that every Christian should have at all times at least one person they are working with and discipling in the faith. More than that, he believed that every believer[AQ3]  should also have a mentor—someone they could look to for guidance and direction.

Dawson used to say, “Somewhere in the body of Christ there is a Paul waiting to mentor you, and a Timothy waiting to be mentored by you.” Today the Navigators still hold firmly to that credo.

But mentoring implies more than just sharing your faith with someone or guiding a brother into truth. In 2 Timothy 3:10–11, Paul says to his young apprentice, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kind of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.”

Paul did much more than teach Timothy; he ushered Timothy deep inside his world, letting him know “all about” his life and faith. Timothy witnessed Paul’s life from inside the ropes. He was given free access to Paul’s successes and failures, to his purpose and sufferings and faith—to his “way of life.” No secrets and no questions were considered off limits. Paul led Timothy into his heart and mind while working to disciple him.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). In effect, he was asking them, “Where’s your man?”

That’s a good question for you and me, as well.