Over The Rainbow
“Somewhere over the rainbow way up high There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. And the dreams that
you dare to dream really do come true.”
Of course those are the famous words of the song “Over the Rainbow” that Judy Garland touched our hearts with years ago. The song also is a reminder to me of a golfer named Davis Love III. Davis Love III was the son of Davis Love, Jr. who was a professional golfer. In fact Davis was born on the day his father was tied for the lead in the 1964 Masters. Davis Love, Jr. would use the game of golf to teach his sons lessons. Both Davis and his brother Mark benefited from the many lessons that their dad gave them using the game of golf as his example. Recently Davis has written a book about his wonderful relationship with his father. It is called “Every Shot I Take” which entails how much his fathers words of wisdom still come to mind!
Davis played around with golf but as a teenager he decided to take the game very seriously. This of course delighted his father as he had always seen the potential his son had. Davis was able to get a scholarship from North Carolina University and he was on his way! After a couple of years Davis turned pro. As a 20 year old kid he actually thought the majors (golfs major tournaments) would be the easiest to win. He had some great wins in minor tournaments over the years but the majors eluded him for 11 years.
Davis’ father was his best friend, mentor, and loving dad. Davis listened to his fathers advise intently and followed it obediently through the first years of his pro career. Then without warning tragedy occurred. His father who was only 53 was killed in 1988 in a plane crash. His father had always told Davis in his youth to “follow your dream and enjoy the trip.” Davis had learned to follow his father’s advice and was enjoying the trip. Needless to say losing him was devastating. For quite some time the joy of the game faded. He felt like he was playing golf as a job instead of for the love of the game that his father had instilled in him. The years that followed produced victories in many minor tournaments as Davis fought to take his fathers advice and follow his dream. His father was constantly on his mind in losing and winning. In 1997 Davis was 33 years old. He had accomplished a lot in golf but had never won a major. In fact people were labeling him the best golfer who had never won a major at that time.
Davis Love is a Christian. He has been a constant attender of the PGA Tour Bible Study for years which takes place on Tuesday nights. For golfers on tour it is a way to fellowship with each other when they cannot attend a Sunday service. Davis has opened up his home as a host for the Golf Fellowship Conference. It is a getaway for young christian golfers to get together and study the Bible. The organization helps young golfers focus on what is really important in life. He hosts the event because in his words he just wants to give back. “Just to give back to guys like Larry Mize and Scott Simpson who discipled us as young players and led us to the PGA Tour Bible Study and helped lead us to Christ. I just want to give back to the next generation.”
It’s fathers day 1997 and Davis finds himself in first place by 5 strokes in a major. It is the US Open one of the most prestigious golf events and a major! His brother Mark was serving as his Caddy. The fact that he had never won a major and year after year he was reminded of it had to come to mind. Davis admitted that every time he thought about winning and what it would mean to him he would get teary eyed thinking about his father. He was very comfortable with his game but these emotions were making him lose concentration. Suddenly his lead started to shrink. Justin Leonard a young pro was making a charge and before you knew it Davis found himself just three shots ahead and facing a tough shot out of the rough.
I’ve heard stories before about how people thought that God was giving them a sign. Sometimes just in a specific moment circumstances occur that you think cannot be a coincidence. I’m reminded of a pro basketball player named Joe Dumars. While his team (the Detroit Pistons) was playing in the finals in 1990 his father, who Joe was very close to, passed away before the game. Not wanting to disrupt Joe his family informed the Pistons to not tell him until the game was over. Joe had an incredible game that day and there was one particular shot his teammate Isiah Thomas remembered. “Joe shot the ball way up in the air almost hitting the roof and it went straight in the basket.” As they were running back to mid court Joe looked at Isiah shook his head and mentioned how fortunate that shot was. Isiah remembers thinking “yeah your dad made that one for you.” Now I know it sounds kind of strange, but maybe it’s not strange at all. Considering how much God loves us, why wouldn’t he at certain times give us a sign that even through our loss he is still there and still loves us?
“Those last three or four holes were the hardest walk I ever had, much less play golf”, Davis admitted. He kept thinking about his father and all of the lessons his father gave him. His father had played the same course (Winged Foot) in 1974. Davis thought of encouragement he might give like “you are overdue, this is your time!” Everything was in his head except golf. Having his brother Mark on the bag may have been his saving grace. Every time he mentioned doubt Mark would say “Just keep doing what you are doing!” Davis urged Mark to just get him through this last five or ten minutes. The danger of losing snapped his attention back to golf. Finding himself in the rough at hole 13 and in danger of losing two more shots to Justin Leonard, Davis made a miraculous shot that almost went in the hole. That shot gave him confidence that whatever the situation he could get up and down. He kept Leonard at arms length the rest of the way with pars on 14-17. The commentators on my TV kept reminding us of Davis and his special relationship to his late father. After all it was fathers day and it made a wonderful story.
They had been playing through the rain and on the 18th hole Davis rolled in a beautiful birdie putt to wrap up the tournament! He embraced his brother Mark in a victorious hug! “I know I never would have did it without him”, Davis later admitted. “Dad would have been so proud.” Over the 18th Green for all of the millions watching on TV to see there was a beautiful rainbow! Now I know you might say that it was just a coincidence. Consider this though before you say it was just by chance. It was fathers day for a son who missed his dad so much. It was the first and only major that Davis would win and it would have made his father so happy. It was Davis Love III taking the advice of his late father’s wisdom to reach his elusive dream. Maybe in God’s special way he was giving a sign that all is well! I know one thing, as I was watching my TV showing that beautiful rainbow and Davis hugging his brother tears were rolling down my face!