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Over the past months, Inspiring Athletes has brought you several interviews with some of the biggest names on the PGA Tour. Many of these athletes are participating in a forthcoming book about golf and integrity called Life in the Fairway. Some of those to be prominently featured include Jonathan Byrd, Ben Crane, Aaron Baddeley, Kevin Streelman, Webb Simpson, Bernhard Langer and D.J. Brigman.
Stewart Cink is another one who will be lending his wealth of knowledge regarding the topic of integrity. Cink has made a name for himself with six PGA Tour victories including the 2009 Open Championship. He’s also become quite popular on Twitter. In fact, he is the most followed PGA golfer on the popular social media site with over 1.1 million followers.
But most importantly to Cink is what people see in him as a man of faith, devoted husband and loving father. In this sneak peek at his contributions to Life in the Fairway, Cink reveals why he loves the game of golf, how it teaches him integrity, what constitutes the perfect swing and what keeps him from achieving it:
Chad Bonham: Why do you love the game of golf?
Stewart Cink: Golf is so difficult to master. It feels like the better you get, the farther you are away from perfection. A beginner gets so excited when he hits the ball in the air or maybe hits a nice bunker shot. A player who has won major championships doesn’t get that excited about those shots anymore. It takes a lot more to excite you. The closer you get to perfection, the more difficult it becomes. That’s what draws me to golf. It’s such a challenge.
Bonham: What are some things we can learn about integrity from the game of golf?
Cink: I just think the game of golf teaches you so much about yourself like who you really are and what you’re made of. It puts you in situations where you’re tempted to kick the ball out from behind a tree. Not on the PGA Tour, but growing up as a kid, when there’s nobody out there watching and you’re having the round of your life and you hit that crooked ball off the last tee box and it ends up stymied right behind a tree. You think it isn’t tempting to kick it out of there and say, “I found it!” The game has an unwritten rule that tells golfers not to do that stuff. In that way, it tells you so much about who you are. That’s a rules situation, but again, it also teaches you a lot about yourself and how you perform under pressure, when the heat’s on. It tells you about how you’re going to perform in other areas of your life when the heat’s on. The vast majority of golfers don’t go on to play golf as a profession, but they do go onto other professions where there will heat on them from time to time. Some people choke under pressure. If you have that as part of your character—that you don’t perform well under pressure—it’s really important for you to know that. The game teaches you about that.
Bonham: Can you share a story when you’re integrity was tested on the golf course?
Cink: I remember one time when I was in college, I was leading a tournament with three or four holes to play. I hit a ball into the bunker. In college, there are no crowds watching. I was right near the lead, maybe two or three in front. The bunker was pretty deep. No one could see me down there. I took my back swing and I brushed the sand with my club accidentally. I knew I did because I saw the impression in the sand that the club left. That’s a two shot penalty. No one saw it. There’s no way anyone else could’ve seen it because I was below the level of the green and there was nothing behind me but trees and woods. There were no spectators. I was the only who saw that happen. I had no choice but to call myself a two-shot penalty. That’s the way the rules are. I ended up winning anyway. I think I might have tied for first in that one, but there were no playoffs. I ended up getting the win but that was a situation where I had to report it because of the game of golf. The game asks that you report that kind of stuff.
Bonham: How would describe your perfect swing?
Cink: The feel is in the release. Physically, in the swing, the release is when the club head passes the hands and you can only swing the club in a fully released kind of way when you’re at total peace with where the result might end up. You’ve got trouble to the left and right every day now on these courses. If you can swing with a calm and peaceful state of mind and you feel that release right at the perfect time without worry, that’s my perfect swing.
Bonham: What are the things that keep you from achieving the perfect swing?
Cink: I have the most difficulty when I struggle with my wife. That’s the hardest part about our profession—maintaining a good relationship with your wife. My kids have grown up knowing nothing other than me being gone all the time and playing in golf tournaments. That’s what they know. But my wife didn’t experience that until she was in her 20s and she was already set in a certain way and all of the sudden she’s like, “Whoa! You mean you’re going to be gone 30 weeks a year?” There are great benefits to being a professional golfer but that’s one of the tough things. It’s really hard to maintain a good relationship with the wife. I’ve got teenage boys and there are always things happening at home that try our patience. When I can’t be there, it stresses both of us out. There are plenty of times when we argue and fight about things. That bothers me. It does. It makes it really hard to be at my best. Being a professional, I have to set it aside and go out and do my best on the golf course. I can always come back and discuss things later on, but it is tough. No matter how well you think you’re doing at setting it aside, it’s always around and it’s easy to go back and think about that stuff if something’s bothering you.
Bonham: Who are some guys that you respect on the PGA Tour for their personal integrity?
Cink: When I first got out on tour, the guys I looked up to were Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman and Larry Mize. Even before I’d become a believer, I understood their faith and integrity. That was something I was drawn to.
Keep up with Stewart Cink on Twitter by visiting HERE.