True Strength

by | May 11, 2014 | Strength

During the past few years the friend I’ve golfed with more than any other is Mike Olver. Mike is younger than me, slightly shorter, but monumentally stronger. In fact, Mike has muscles in places where I don’t even have places. He sometimes asks which club I am using just so he can fall over laughing. On a 150-yard par 3 with nothing but water between the tee box and the slippery green, Mike doesn’t have to think about it. He grabs a pitching wedge. I point at some wildlife and pull out an 8-iron, hoping he doesn’t notice. If I hit the pond, he asks, “What club were you using?”

“Sand wedge,” I lie, and he just grins.

On most par 4s I use a Big Mama 1-wood. Mike outdrives me with a 3-wood. And sometimes a 4-iron. One of these days when he isn’t looking I might just bend his clubs.

Mike runs the dining hall at the college where both of us work, and sometimes the golf course manager at our local links asks him to help run the clubhouse. As much as possible Mike says yes. Not long ago when the golf course staff held their annual party, Mike was there again. Checking people in. Taking phone calls. Flipping burgers. Listening to golf stories-a big grin all over his face.

There’s something you should know. Mike takes nothing in return. No money, no rewards. He wouldn’t want you to know about his generosity, but he is not writing this book. I asked him once why he does it.

He said, “What do I need? I’ve got a car that runs, a wife who loves me, and a son to golf with.”

His eyes get a little misty when he tells you this. You may wonder why at first. Until Mike tells you the following story.

One dark August day a friend of Mike’s died of a massive heart attack in the prime of life. He had the build of an Olympic athlete. He was training for a triathlon with his brother. Mike and his wife were shocked. A few weeks after the funeral, the Olvers invited the widow and her eight- and ten-year-old over for dinner. Mike noticed her looking at his golf clubs. “My husband was going to take the kids golfing, “she said, staring into the distance. “He didn’t get around to it.”

Mike was fighting tears.

“Would you do something?” She asked timidly. “Would you take them golfing with you sometime?”

You already know Mike’s response. Of course he would. “Do they have clubs?” He asked.

“No,” she responded. “But I’ll look for some.”

One night after Mike finished running things at the Three Hills Golf and Country Club, he came by the house to show me something. There was a glow coming off his face, and it wasn’t a sunburn. Seems he’d been preparing to lock up the clubhouse, when the manager came over to thank him for filling in. Clearly touched by Mike’s kindness, he said, “You know, you do this for us every year, but you won’t take anything in return. Isn’t there something we can do for you?”

“Maybe,” said Mike.

All evening he’d had his eyes on two items in the corner of the pro shop. When he had a few moments he wandered over to examine them. They were two beautiful sets of Top Flite junior golf clubs. A driver, a putter, and all the irons, shrink-wrapped in matching black and red bags, complete with shoulder straps and kick stands.

“Could you give me a deal on those clubs?” Mike grinned.

It was the manager’s turn to grin. “Take ’em,” he said.

Mike’s grin got wider. “You’re kidding,” he said.

But the manager wasn’t.

Mike couldn’t stop smiling and shaking his head as he told me this. “I’ll get some balls and tees and surprise these kids,” he told me. “And I’ll try to get their mom some lessons so she can take them golfing too.”

Mike is one of the strongest men I know. I’ve played hockey against him, and you can’t move this guy from the front of the net without a crane. But true strength has little to do with the physical. True strength has more to do with gentleness and a servant’s heart. James 1:27 says, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.”

Mike revved the engine and took off to tell his wife. I knew I’d never have the nerve to bend this guy’s clubs.

Phil Callaway, Golfing with the Master. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2006, p. 83-86.


True Strength