Monday, February 06, 2012

The 16th Hole at TPC Scottsdale

The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.

It's just 162 yards. Just a small, harmless par 3.

But it's so much more than that.

The 16th has become more than just a hole. Every Super Bowl week, over 20,000 people crowd into the coliseum that surrounds this tiny hole. It's known as the most exciting hole in golf.

The hole changed forever when Tiger Woods stepped to the tee in 1997. After his hole-in-one at the 16th, the fans roared and tossed their beer glasses onto the tee box as he fist-pumped his way to the green. Golf had never seen anything like it. That day, the "golf clap" was traded in for a new era of celebration from fans and golfers. That day, the 16th became the stage for the "most exciting hole in golf."

You can see the transformation in the pictures above. I've played the hole twice. Without the grandstands, it's just a hole. But come tournament time, the coliseum comes alive.

My question in all of this is: How does one par-3 measuring 162 yards transform the image of a sport overnight? What is it about the 16th that allows the image of golf fans to change from conservative old men with cardigans tied around their neck to rowdy college students who "boo" golf shots that don't come closer than 15 feet from the pin?

Several things converged to make this hole what it was:

1) New leaders who change the boundaries - Golf was a sport for wealthy white men. But Tiger Woods and crop of new young, bold golfers changed the sport. These young leaders pushed the limits of a previous culture with bolder wardrobes, extreme workout regimens, and a swagger that said they could do anything with a golf ball. They stepped over presumed cultural norms and found a way to appeal to a new audience.

2) The Cultural Setting - With Arizona State University and a young city nearby, they appealed to a group of spectators that wouldn't have been caught dead at a golf tournament just years before.

3) Capitalizing on the right moment - Tiger's hole-in-one became the catalytic moment that transformed a golf hole into an unbelievable cultural event.

4) Expectation - People come with the expectation of having a good time. We've all been in settings where everyone expects to have a good time. Usually, the expectation is fulfilled. So, much of life is about expectation. Comedians' jobs are easier because people come to the comedy club expecting to laugh. When people want to laugh, it's easier to get them to laugh.

Other golf holes have tried to create similar atmospheres, but most of them fail miserably because all of the elements needed for such a huge cultural change just don't quite work together as well in other places.

And I got to thinking, there are some serious parallels between the 16th hole and our churches.

Churches don't usually change overnight. And over the years, it's easy for a church to turn inward, circle the wagons, and die a long slow death.

But it doesn't have to be this way!

And if you'll excuse the image, we need a 16th hole at Scottsdale type revival in our day.

On second thought, don't excuse the image. In Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, the synagogue was transformed into a scene much like the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. And do you remember the charge the onlookers made about the spectators in the house that day? The naysayers were afraid the Spirit-filled people from across the globe had imbibed a bit too much wine the night before.

I can't remember the last time I worshiped at a church where we were mistaken as a bunch of drunk hooligans.

We need a fresh wind of the Spirit. We need new leaders who will change the expectation in our worship experiences. We're insane to think that doing the same things over and over will bring new results.

But more than anything, we need to expect that God will show up and revive our churches.

Do you know why our kids love worship at church camp? Because they have an expectation and anticipation that God will show up. And he does!

Do you know why worship experiences in the Fieldhouse at Pepperdine are so powerful? Because we have an expectation that God will show up. And he does!

The 16th hole at Scottsdale used to be just a hole. And without the grandstands, it's just a hole. But come tournament time, it's more than a hole. It's an experience unlike any other. It's a party!

When you attend church this Sunday, the resources of revival are present. God and the Holy Spirit are ready for a party.

The question is: Are we ready?

So, take off your cardigan. Give up your "golf-clap." God wants to reach more than your standard golf fans. He's ready for a new day. Are you?