RBC Heritage

Lehman recalls valuable lesson from caddy at Heritage breakfast


A good back swing and strong putting can only get a golfer so far on the course.

What distinguishes a good golfer from the great is a dedicated caddy -- someone who knows how to get the best results out of a player when he has all but given up hope.

The same is true for a Christian, said seven-time PGA Tour winner Tom Lehman.

Lehman spoke at Wednesday's 15th annual Christian Heritage Breakfast about being consumed by guilt for his inability to be "good enough" as a player and a person.

"Golf is all about me and my effort. It's an every-man-for-himself mentality," Lehman said. "I was constantly nagged by the feeling of being a hypocrite, that if I called myself Christian, how could I do this or how could I think that? The more I struggled with that, the more I came to see myself as a sham."

Just as pro golfers need help at times judging a shot or reading a green, Lehman needed someone to show him how to ease his guilt. That someone was close friend and professional caddy for 19 years, Andrew Martinez.

Lehman told a story about a tournament in which his every approach shot to the green on one hole seemed to find a bunker.

"To say I was angered is an understatement," Lehman said. "I was steaming and pummeled my next tee shot. Andrew cleans the ball and said, 'Hey, Pro, I want you to know I'm caddying for the best player in the field this week.' That, to me, was perfect caddying."

Lehman said that moment helped teach him to be "a man for others," like Martinez -- a person "bent on serving others and making others the best they can be."

One of the goals of the breakfast is to inspire young athletes to make a difference for Christ, said Mike Brock, the event's chairman. The breakfast is sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Presbyterian Men of the Church, an organization that is part of First Presbyterian and Providence Presbyterian churches on Hilton Head Island.

Several athletes, coaches, church members and area teachers attended.

"The money we generate from this, we send kids to camp," Brock said. "You hope someone has a chance to experience sports and have Jesus enter into their lives while that's going on, and that's where FCA comes in."

Lehman was the first Christian Heritage Breakfast speaker in 1997, the year after he won the British Open and was named the PGA Tour's Player of the Year. He is a member of both the PGA and Champions tours and is playing this week on the Champions Tour's Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament in Savannah.

Should this be the last year for the Heritage golf tournament, Brock said FCA will probably move the breakfast to the Legends of Golf event.

"God forbid, if for some reason the Heritage didn't fly," Brock said. "... It would be sad. I hope someone would see it in their heart to witness the tournament this week and get involved (as a title sponsor) and see how great it is and to come along and say, 'I'd like to be a part of that.' Even for a year."

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