The Masters golf tournament may not command the television ratings of the Super Bowl and March Madness, but it still qualifies as one of the cultural sports holidays that many Americans gather around and observe religiously. During Sunday’s final round, I saw all nine fruits of the spirit (from Galatians 5:22-23).
Love. Every player who walked up the fairway to the 18th green—including Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabel, America’s Ryder Cup nemesis, received warm and gracious standing ovations regardless of where they stood in the standings. Such unconditional love is not typical in our performance-driven culture.
Peace. Rocco Mediate, a smiling guy who was within a nose of the lead, hit three (yes three!) balls in the water at the 12th hole and scored a 10 on a par 3. His response was a deep breath, a smile and an on to the next hole—an inner strength that we could all imitate when we face our failures this week. That hole probably cost Rocco about a quarter of a million dollars.
Patience. Anybody that plays golf has it. So do fans who sit for five hours in one spot; at my church, people are ready to go to lunch after an hour.
Kindness. 46-year-old Fred Couples missed several short putts, but was usually greeted by loud ovations at the subsequent holes.
Goodness. Phil Mickelson saved his fellow competitor a penalty stroke by reminding him to replace his mark before putting, after their balls were on the same line. In other sports, most players try to get away with what they can while hoping the ref catches the other guy.
Faithfulness. Bucking a commercial trend at big events, the network and its advertisers ran only four minutes of commercials per hour.
Gentleness. Golf is a rare sport where no one points a finger in his opponents face or celebrates another’s demise or dances when a competitor fails. Fans work not to be a distraction, and etiquette is held in high esteem.
Self-Control. Tiger Woods—playing while his father lay ill in Southern California—was poised for a comeback win to become the second-greatest Masters champion of all-time, but he missed short shots all day. However, he never lost his composure (okay, maybe one exclamation) and was still around to make a valiant run in the closing holes.
Joy. When the excellent shots occurred—no matter who made them—there was raucous applause that echoed throughout the woods and across the course, much louder than the outpouring of praise at most churches this day.