By Richard Grigonis
The world knows Billy Graham for his enormously successful evangelistic career. But when he wasn’t preaching to the millions, Graham indulged in his great leisure time passion — golf.
Terry Whalin, author of “Billy Graham: America’s Greatest Evangelist,” wrote that, “Golf has often given Billy a means to relax in an informal setting with well-known people.”
Well-known indeed. Graham golfed with many of the U.S. presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, etc.
Author Ken Garfield, mentioning Graham and Ronald Reagan, wrote, “Their friendship dates back to the 1950s—golf brought them together, of course.”
During a round of golf with Lyndon Johnson, the president complimented Graham on his yellow pigskin golf shoes. Graham’s unexpected response was to send Johnson six pairs of them.
In the 1970s, Graham once played in a foursome that included President Gerald Ford and Jack Nicklaus.
Golf was something special to Billy Graham. For example, in 1968 Billy Graham wrote a tract called “God and Golf.”
"For many years, I played golf,” wrote Graham. “I enjoyed the game because it is so similar to the game of life, with its many obstacles, struggles, victories, conflicts, and blessings.”
As biographer Marshall Frady wrote of him in his book "Billy Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness": "It was to the mown groomed fairways of golf courses that he repaired, the carpeted locker rooms of country clubs where he could often be found, standing in his shorts, discoursing to ball-bearing manufacturers and textile-mill magnates on the exhilarations of prolonged Bible study."
Frady also notes that when Graham was made honorary chaplain of Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., he quipped, “The Apostle Paul, you know, said, ‘I have finished the course,’” and further expounded, “There’s no game which opens a man’s personal life like golf. It illustrates an individual’s honesty, integrity, intelligence, and character. Golf demands control of temper, concentration, and integrity. You can tell a lot about a person by playing a round of golf with him. In golf, you cope with the same troubles as you do in life.”
Even during his crusades, according to Frady, Graham would return from playing nine holes to dictate that evening’s sermon.
Graham even exclaimed about Heaven, “Boy, I sure hope they have a golf course up there!”
Quoted in Ken Garfield’s book “Billy Graham: A Life in Pictures,” Graham said, “Somebody once asked me, ‘Will there be golf courses in heaven?’ I said, ‘If they’re necessary for our happiness, they’ll be there.’”
And so we pay tribute to Billy Graham — not in his role as beguiling global preacher, but rather as an avid, well-traveled golfer, a man who sliced and putted his way through many of the gently undulating landscapes that are the game's great fairways, from the original coastal “links land” golf courses of sand washed onto Scottish seashores, to the “parksland” courses found elsewhere in the world, all carefully designed, shaped and manicured by man and machine.
Article and pictures at link: http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/billy-graham-golf-passion/2014/01/03/id/545141