From The Green To The Pulpit

By Stacy Sneed
Updated: January 20, 2008

MARYLAND — It took more than a few corporate heads to convince Marvin Wamble to join the game. It was something everyone in his office was doing Friday afternoons, but still it wasn’t enough to persuade him that he, too, should join the game of golf.

Known as an All-America athlete, he writes in his book, ”From Tee to Green, Seeing God … In the Middle of the Fairway,” golfing was something that athletes didn’t participate in. Matter of fact, he was known for his track and field and basketball and football skills, but golfing was something better left to those who couldn’t play in ”real” sports.

Wamble’s begins his book with the story of picking out his first set of clubs from a Sears warehouse. He talks about, and even takes a few shots at himself, that day when he expected to buy a set of clubs for less than $50.

He said the cashier noticed his mixed set of clubs with different brands and suggested he at least try to buy a set that was the same.

Of the experience, he wrote:

”Are you sure this is what you want?” [the cashier] said.

”Yes, these are the exact clubs I want,” I answered emphatically. ”Do you have a problem with me buying these clubs?”

”Sir, if you want to buy clubs from three different manufacturers to make up a set that’s fine with me, but you should at least try to get all your irons from the same company.”

I smiled, swallowed what was left of my pride and took the clubs back to the sporting goods area …

That was his first insight into golfing.

Recently inducted as a pastor at Shiloh Community United Methodist Church in Newburg, Wamble said, ”I started writing [the book] two years ago, in the context of being a Christian. I started to see a correlation between golfing and being a Christian. Golf is so difficult, and so is being a Christian, but both have great rewards.”

He said while on the course he has the opportunity to meditate while conversations begin with God.

”It’s a great time to relax and meditate while focusing on getting this little white ball in the cup,” he said. ”And as I began playing I began to jot things down as I played. I’ve always been a storyteller.”

Wamble said he has 25 years under his belt as a sports journalist with papers such as The San Jose Mercury News and the Dallas Times Herald.

But this is his first published book.

”The stories I felt were universal. The stories are really funny. I don’t mind laughing at myself,” he said. ”With the golf course you’re basically going through a journey. In each hole, you’re trying to overcome obstacles, you’re trying to be creative, and there are choices you have to make.”

While Wamble repeatedly said he is not a ”great” golfer and the book does not offer an instructional manual for the game, he said it does provide spiritual insights and the basics of the game. ”I’ve been playing golf for 13 or 14 years. … I’m not all that good, but anyone who is really good is getting paid for it. I’m not trying to give anyone instructions. Every time you go out to the course, you strive to be better. As a Christian you have the potential to be great,” he said.

For those who aren’t familiar with golf or any sports, Wamble said the book is an easy read for anyone of any sports level or any spiritual outlook.

”It’ll make them laugh and make them think. It talks about a journey of life. It’s about ups and downs and thinking about the mistakes you made. … It’s sort of set up like a devotional with biblical passages,” he said. ”It’s just to have someone read it and enrich or begin a relationship with Christ. God’s in your life, even on the golf course.

”Some people play a terrible round and they are ready to throw their clubs in the water, until they get that great shot. It only takes one good shot or one good thing to keep us going.”

Wamble said he is working on a second book, ”Tracking God” — a correlation between God and track and field.