Straight Talk with Bob Estes, PGA Golfer

1988 College Player of the Year, 1994 Texas Open winner, 2001 FedEx St. Jude Classic winner, 2001 Invensys Classic winner

Bob Estes, his return to God brought back his missing joy.

In 1994, I won my first PGA Tour event when I captured the Texas Open. While winning that first PGA event was the fulfillment of a life-long goal, it didn't feel like I thought it would.

You see, I grew up in a Christian home. A home centered on biblical values. I went to Sunday school, church, and Vacation Bible School. I even prayed and asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was 10 years old.

But once I became involved in the game of golf, my Christian faith became a secondary interest. Once I reached college, it was of little interest at all.

The first Sunday I was in Austin, at the University of Texas, I went to church with a friend. That was the last church service I attended in my 4 years at the university. I was at Texas to get an education and to play golf.

My athletic goals were clear: (1) Become the best collegiate golfer in the country, and (2) Play on the PGA Tour.

I could never get enough golf. I would often go out with my friends on Saturday night, and return early so I could be the first one to the golf course on Sunday morning.

Golf had become an obsession.

With golf- and a full load of classes - I didn't need something else [Christian faith] taking more of my time and taking me away from golf. I was so obsessed with golf that I neglected my relationship with God.

The hard work and intense focus on my golf game paid off. I earned All-American honors in both my junior and senior seasons at Texas. I also accomplished one of my goals when I was named College Player of the Year in 1988.

After my senior year at Texas, I was invited to play in five PGA Tour events. Playing in those events gave me the confidence I needed to make it through PGA Tour qualifying school by December. I had now made the PGA Tour straight out of college-attaining my other goal.

After playing on the Tour for just a few weeks I began to notice signs for a Tour Bible study. Whether I was motivated by guilt or by an interest in meeting other Christian players on Tour, I decided to check it out. I began to realize that I no longer had an excuse for not pursuing God on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, it took me more than a few years to truly put this conviction into action.

Eventually, I recognized there is more to Christianity than just saying you believe in Jesus - you've got to walk the walk! You've go to develop a deeper relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ.

I believe that's why my first PGA win in 1994 was kind of hollow when compared to the feelings I experienced after winning the two tournaments last season. I grew in my faith so much between those two points!

There's just no way of knowing the peace that comes from experiencing God's plan for your life until you recognize the importance of close, consistent fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Now it's not just in the tough times that I want Jesus there; it's the good times too.

If you have wandered away from God and allowed other things to consume you, pray the following prayer of recommitment.

"Heavenly Father, I ask for your forgiveness for turning my back on you. I pray that you would give me a passion for a deeper relationship with You, through Jesus Christ. Please take away those passions in my life that have drawn me away from You. I surrender my life to You once again. Please take me, and use me for Your honor and glory. Amen."

Taken from Sports Spectrum, a Christian sports magazine. Used by permission. For subscription information call 1-800-283-8333.

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