Golf on a Land of Faith
Thank you, Scruffy, for that fine introduction and your faith in me. I suppose it seems a wee bit
curious for the pals to have a priest playing the game of golf. The truth of the matter is that many golf
courses are built on land that was once, or is part of, a seminary.
For example, Shepherd's Hollow Golf Club is located in Clarkston, Michigan, on property leased from
the Society of Jesus, the Roman Catholic Jesuit priests. Noted golf course architect Arthur Hills was
required to route the course around the cemetery in which numerous Jesuits are buried, and also was
called upon to build the course around a residence for retired priests that is also located on the property.
The Jesuits once operated a seminary on this 350-acre contemplative site, near the intersection of
Interstate 75 and the Dixie Highway. The course was named in recognition of the property’s former
and current residents. Shepherd’s Hollow feels very much like a sanctuary; it is very serene. To read
more about this unique course, visit
Another interesting course is St. Johns Golf Club, one of the first layouts to be built in the
Metropolitan Detroit area, which was originally built as the 9-hole Mission Inn Golf Course and part of
the seminary for Catholic priests. The golf course features three separate nines, named after the
apostles Mark, Luke and Matthew. St. Johns is a scenic course, with lots of interesting hazards to keep
you on your toes. It is a real value and a recommended golfing experience, although it will not fulfill
your required Sunday obligation. For more information,
The site of an entirely different relationship that existed with golf and priests can be viewed at the
12th hole on the Waterville House and Golf Links in Waterville, County Kerry, Ireland. This hole is
named the Mass Hole because priests used to say Mass in a large hollow immediately below the green
during a time in Irish history when Catholicism was outlawed. You won’t find priests today, but you
may just pray that your ball reaches the plateau green on the 200 yard, par 3 hole. Review the rest of this course at
Faith and Freedom on the Golf Course
When it comes to my game of golf, it is true that my faith far outreaches my skills. And it is equally
true that on many an occasion, I have seen my playing companions looking up to heaven, scratching
their heads and trying to make sense of my “faithful shots”. Faith comes in many forms, you know, and
is defined as believing, having confidence, trusting, and accepting without question. Now that’s exactly
what I have; faith in my swing. Ya see, I believe I can take the club back and return it to make impact
with the ball; I am confident that I can repeat that motion and I trust and accept without question the
outcome. Because I have faith in my swing, I have no fear of failure. Learn to have faith in yourself,
and you will have the freedom to enjoy your game. Freedom is a good thing, now isn’t it? Faith and
freedom go together like birdies and pars and they just make life a little easier, don’t ya think?
As a priest not only am I a teacher, I am a student as well. I study scriptures and observe people
to find ways of communicating what I learn, in hopes of nurturing the development and understanding
of faith in our society. I have found golf to be a good study for the interaction and behavior of man.
It is a familiar quote that says, “Spending a day on the golf course with someone will tell you everything
you need to know about their character.” In doing so, I have discovered there are many parallels in life
and the game of golf. I will have some examples to share on your next visit with me.
Don’t Let the Rules Bug You
But for now, I need to address this issue with Knothead and Hoss. To make my point and illustrate
it to Knothead, I posed this question to Hoss. “You are playing a round of golf by yourself and you have
a putt on the 18th green, which, if you sink it, will give you a record round. You start the putt rolling
straight for the cup with the proper speed and perfect line, and just before your ball reaches the hole, a
little beetle runs in front of it, deflecting it, and causes the ball to roll left and just hang on the lip.
Would you take the putt or the stroke?” He looked at me through his little shades and said, “Father 'O’,
I would kill that blessed beetle, take my stroke and head for the 19th Hole!”
I then turned to Knothead and said, “My son, golf is the only sport where you police yourself. You
must do what your heart tells you and I have faith that you will do what is right! Oh, by the way,” I added
“in case you’re interested, I hear confessions at 4:00 on Saturday evenings.”
I also have faith that you will make all the right choices and be back to visit me again at this site.