I enjoy giving golf lessons because cool things usually happen. First, I make money; nothing wrong with that. Second, it’s fun to see the look on people’s faces when they hit a nice shot — possibly for the first time ever. And third, sometimes these people end up being your friends.
That’s what happened when a guy named Robin came to me for lessons way back in the early ’80s. We both lived in Casper, Wyo., at the time and he was the new associate pastor at the church I was attending. I gave Robin a couple golf lessons and we soon discovered we had more in common than just golf. After that we spent countless hours trying to beat each other in racquetball, basketball and Ping-Pong. Unfortunately, he usually won. Plus we both loved God and challenged each other in our spiritual lives.
About that time I moved to Phoenix to be able to golf year-round and to try out for the PGA Tour. A few years later Robin called me and said, “Hey, I’m moving to Phoenix to start a new church. Wanna help?”
“Sure,” I said, “Where?”
“I guess there’s this place called Ahwatukee that has been really growing and could use another church,” he said.
“Sounds good. How do we do it?” I asked.
“I found this telemarketing approach that supposedly works really well. We just call up people and ask them if they are active in a church. If they say ‘yes’ we say, ‘Good job, keep it up’ and if they say ‘no’ we ask them if they would like a brochure on a new church we are starting. Supposedly, 10 percent of the people we call will ask for a brochure and 10 percent of those people will actually show up at the first service.”
So how many phone calls do you want to make?” I asked.
“I’m thinking 20,000,” Robin said.
“Dude, that could cut into our golfing time,” I said jokingly.
So Robin recruited about a dozen other people to help and we started making phone calls. After 23,000 conversations we had 2,300 people wanting a brochure. And, believe it or not, just about 230 of those people showed up at the first service. How cool is that! The date was Oct. 18, 1987. We started out in Pueblo Middle School’s cafeteria, then moved to Mountain Pointe High School’s auditorium and, finally, into a building at 24th Street and Pecos Road.
It cracks me up now to walk into the Sunday service and have an energetic greeter hand me a bulletin and say, “Welcome to Mountain Park, is this your first time?”
“No,” I say, “I’ve been coming here for awhile.”
I look forward to the next new person I give a golf lesson to. I just hope it’s not a pastor saying, “Can you help me make a few phone calls?”
• Brad Butler is head pro at the Arizona Golf Resort and worships at Mountain Park Community Church in Ahwatukee Foothills.