In this story from October 2004, the Charlie's Angels star recalls how her faith impacts her love of golf—and, occasionally, vice versa.
Two things I take very seriously in life. My golf game and my relationship with God. Neither one is simple.
I took up golf after playing Kris Munroe in Charlie’s Angels. Those were heady years. Pictures of the Angels were everywhere—magazine covers, posters, even lunch boxes, which I’m told you can still get on eBay. I couldn’t go to the supermarket without being asked to sign an autograph. But behind the scenes my marriage was falling apart.
The year Charlie’s Angels ended I remarried. My husband, Brian Russell, and I discovered golf and rediscovered church together. In 1990 we moved to the Santa Barbara area, full of beautiful golf courses, emerald swards in the soft dusty hills. Golf became a way to escape the pressures of life. Thanks to Brian’s coaching I brought my game up to a 17 handicap. I even made the rounds of celebrity tournaments.
We also made the rounds of churches until we found one that felt right, a Presbyterian church with a minister who helped us work on our spiritual lives in the same methodical way Brian helped me with my golf swing. I read the Bible cover to cover, every word. Passages came alive, and whole books, like Job and Psalms, spoke vividly to me. I trusted God like never before.
All this concentration on my faith even taught me something about my golf game. You do the hard work—your swing, your putting, your short game—and it pays off. Not just in the expected, prayed-for way, but sometimes in the most extraordinary ways.
A little example: Brian and I were playing golf with our friend, tennis champ Jimmy Connors. The weather was perfect. My game was so-so. We were on the ninth hole, a par three. I used a five iron. I stared down the fairway at the pin, 145 yards away. Then I closed my eyes and pictured how I would swing and how the ball would fly. Just hit the green, I told myself. That’s your goal.
I said a quick prayer, opened my eyes and then swung. I watched the ball fly through the air, past the trees, headed right for the green. Good shot. I bent to pick up my tee.
“Cheryl, look up!” Jimmy yelled. I lifted my head. The ball bounced on the green, once, twice, rolled and then disappeared as if the green had swallowed it.
“A hole in one!” Brian shouted.
I looked at the guys in wonder. “Thanks,” I said. “If you hadn’t said anything, I would have missed that.” It was a magical moment, the culmination of a lot of hard work. But it also seemed unearned—like grace.
So that’s what I’ve learned to do in golf and, I guess, in life. Work hard and hit the greens. And don’t forget to look up. You never know what you might miss.
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