James 3:13-16: Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly and unspiritual. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Our Family Night study on the book of James has led to dozens of very interesting conversations. But after session seven, where we discussed the difference between the “False Wisdom” of the world and “True Wisdom” from God, I came across this amusing, true story, that I so wished I had read before our class discussion so that I could have shared it with the group.

The book of James makes it clear that unless we seek wisdom from “above” (the truth from God), our old sinful nature will most often lead us to decisions based on our own self-interest and arrogant conceit. As proof, consider this episode in the life of professional golfer, Tommy Bolt.

It was a well-known fact the Bolt was hard on his caddies. Nowadays, pro golfers pay their loopers big money to, not only carry their clubs, but to give advice on things like course management, the contours on the greens, and club selection. If you ever watch golf on television, you’ll often get to hear the strategy conversations between the golfers and their caddies before important shots. But Tommy Bolt was known to be very particular about asking for and taking advice from his caddies. In the 1952 Los Angeles Open, being played at Riviera Country Club, on the tee box just before the final round, Bolt told his caddy, “Don’t say a word to me. And if I ask you something, just answer yes or no.”

The obedient caddy followed instructions throughout the round. Then, with a two-stroke lead and two holes to play, Bolt hit his drive under the trees on the left side of the fairway. The ball was under a tree with full, heavy, low-hanging branches making for a very tough shot. Looking at his caddy, he asked, “five-iron?”

“No, Mr. Bolt,” was the reply.

“What do you mean, ‘No’?” And with that, Bolt reached into his bag himself, took out his five-iron, and proceeded to hit a rocket under the overhanging tree, and on to the green, not more than two feet from the pin. He smirked at his caddy and said, “Now what do you think? …You can talk now.”

“Mr. Bolt,” the caddy said, “that wasn’t your ball.”

Written by Jim DeHorn