by Gary Graf
Teacher’s Comments: Not as profound as I hoped, and sometimes hard to follow, but still a decent read.
And God Said: Tee It Up is a wonderful premise for a book. What author Gary Graf tries to do is to illuminate “the many remarkable, mystical connections between that sport and Spirit, links and Lord, game and God.” He professes to be neither a good golfer, nor a biblical scholar, but instead a student “of scripture and sport.”
The book is organized into nineteen chapters—one for each hole on the course, plus the clubhouse. Each chapter begins with an examination of famous holes with the same number as the chapter, and then branches off into related golf history, and then finally to scripture.
For example, in the sixth chapter, Graf begins by describing the sixth at Winged Foot East (nicknamed “Trouble”), the sixth at Carnoustie (the “Beast”), and the sixth at Saucon Valley Country Club Old in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. That leads directly into a discussion of the Holy Family’s trip to Bethlehem. Graf then muses on the fact that Jesus was born into humble circumstance, which in turn passes into a discussion of Lee Trevino’s humble beginnings.
The twelfth chapter begins with a discussion of the Chicago Golf Club’s Twelfth (Punch Bowl) and the twelfth at Southern Hills. Graf then digresses into a discussion of the Masters and a list of its multiple winners, and then to a description of Augusta’s twelfth. That leads into a discussion of the number of Apostles, Jesus’s prayers to reconnect with his Father and the value of prayer in general.
If it sounds a bit disjointed, sometimes it is. Graf often has to stretch a bit to reach his point; non-sequiturs abound. At times I wasn’t sure how he got from point A to point B. Often, Graf doesn’t so much make connections as point out coincidences, and offer reminders. But in the end, it’s ok, because Graf writes in a pleasant, breezy and conversational style that covers for any logical shortcomings.
In a way, the book reminded me of an old country music song called “Deck of Cards,” written by Texas Tyler and recorded by Bill Anderson, among others. It’s about a soldier who gets in trouble for having a deck of cards on Sunday and who explains that in the field, the deck serves as his Bible. The soldier explains that the Ace reminds him of the One True God; the Deuce of the Old and New Testaments; the Three, the Holy Trinity; the Four, the four gospels; the Five of the five virgins; the Six of the Days of Creation; The Seven of the Sabbath; the Eight of the Righteous spared from the flood (Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives), the Nine of the Lepers who did not thank Jesus for healing them; the Ten of the Commandments; the Jack of Satan, the Queen of Mary; the King of Jesus Christ, the 365 spots of the days of the year to be thankful; 52 cards of the weeks of the year to be thankful; the Four Suits of the seasons; and the Twelve Face Cards of the Apostles.
If you’re looking for a deep theological discussion, And God Said: Tee It Up! isn’t it. But if you’re a golfer who wants to reconnect to his Church and God, this just might be the vehicle.