The Way of an Eagle
by Bob Darden,
P. J. Richardson,
Getting this self-effacing, soft-spoken Alabama boy to talk about himself is like pulling teeth--unless you ask about Crimson Tide football.
After a couple of years of knocking around the periphery of the Tour, Lowery exploded in 1994, winning his first tournament and finishing with nearly $800,000 in prize money. In fact, few players played better in 1994's closing tournaments, including an eighth-place tie at the season-ending Tour Championship. His opening-round 66 included only the second hole-in-one in Tour Championship history, on Olympic Club's challenging No. 8, no less.
I did not grow up in church; we occasionally went, but I really didn't come from a Christian background.
I was led to Christ by some Christian golfers. I wanted to have what they had, the peace that I could tell was in their lives. I'd experienced a lot of success all through my life, but as I turned pro when I was twenty-four, things changed. I started going to a lot of Bible studies, and people like Dick Mast made an impact on me.
One night during that time, I went home and started listening to Charles Stanley on the television. I made a decision to accept Christ in my life that evening. I acknowledged that I needed Him, that I was a sinner.
God had allowed a lot of great things to happen in my life, but through them all, I was searching for what I was supposed to be doing. Looking back on it, it was the only way He could have done it, because I'd played golf my whole life, and I was basically led by the euphoria of playing well. The highs and lows of this life are very dramatic. But Jesus was the constant that I needed. In the low point of my life, He used that to bring me to Him.
If you'd continued to play successfully, do you think you would have ever come to a personal relationship with Jesus?
I'd like to say so, but probably not. I grew up playing golf; that's all I really knew. I thought I had the world by the tail; the reality was that I didn't know as much as I thought I did. I'm sure this is a similar story to many out here on the Tour, but it is still miraculous when it happens to you.
Because golf is an individual sport, when you do well, you tend to feel as though you are the one who's doing it, that you are the one in control of it, that you are the one who's deserving of it. But when God opens your eyes and makes you realize that everything you have is a result of Him and that you're totally dependent on Him, it makes a huge difference.
It's important for me to know that I can rest in the fact that God--not Steve Lowery--is in control of my life. I don't have the worries and anxieties of trying to be something I'm not. He sent His Son to die for me, so I'm already--in His eyes--all that I need to be. I just need to be myself as He created me. I don't have to worry whether I'm witnessing for Him through a low point in my life or a high point--He thinks enough of me to send His Son for me.
Is it easier or harder being a Christian as a pro golfer?
If being a Christian is serving other people, it is hard to serve people on the Tour because they do everything for you. If you're trying to humble yourself and exalt other people around you and all they want to do is put you up on a pedestal, it's a challenge to try to make other people feel more important. People are always trying to do things for you, so you're constantly trying to serve from that position.
At this point, through October 1994, I've already had the best year I've ever had on the Tour, and I'm trying to constantly remind myself that God has allowed this to happen and that He's the one that's orchestrated my whole career. Not that I feel like I've done it, but I'm constantly reminding myself that He's given me the talent, He's given me the health, He's given me every opportunity--everything is from Him. I'm constantly coming back to that.
As a Christian, you always want to have the right attitudes, but the world is constantly pushing you up here, and you're trying to have this personal relationship separate from that, knowing, in your heart, that He's given you everything that you have. Even though people are telling you something totally different, that somehow you're some kind of hero, you have to constantly humble yourself before the Lord.
Is it possible to remain "fed" as a Christian on the Tour?
It's much harder, even though there's a Bible study and a group of Christians; we're just not constantly together. There are some weeks when half of the guys aren't playing. There are other weeks when you have a 7:10 A.M. tee-time and you have to be out there at 6:30 A.M. warming up, and it is hard to be at a Bible study across town until 9:30 or 10:00 the night before. It's a challenge.
You have to push yourself to the fellowship and to the other things, because it's not like it's all there before you. It's not like you show up at church and there are three hundred people there with whom you can spend time. Basically, we have a couple hours on Wednesday evening. If you're home, you try to go to church. But it's not like the normal eight to five, off on the weekends, go to church on Wednesday night and all day Sunday lifestyle.
I have my own Bible reading times. And one thing about this life, you have a lot of spare time on the road. If I'm on the road by myself, and my wife Kathryn and the kids aren't with me, I have a lot of time to spend praying and reading the Bible. There's lots of time on the airplanes. So actually you have a lot of quiet, quality time.
I guess missing the fellowship with other Christians is the one aspect that's harder than any other.
In 1994 I won the Sprint International. I eagled the seventeenth hole, the second eagle of the back nine. That was the shot that was really something else, something special.
You know that God is always working in your life, whether you shoot an 85 or a 65, but it sure is apparent when something is really amazing in your life.
My parents don't come to a lot of tournaments; they live in Birmingham. But my mom and my dad, my mother-in-law, my wife, and my daughter, three or four other couples who are friends of my parents, and some other family friends all flew into Denver that week. We were all there. My caddie had his girlfriend, his dad, and his stepsister there--and they were all at that tournament. It's a fairly off-the-beaten path tournament; it's not like Orlando, where I live. Still, they were all there, and I won it! It was so amazing, not only to me, but to everybody. Everybody said, "This has been decided on from up above. This is not something that is mere coincidence."
That was a point in my life where you can point there and say, "That was definitely God intervening." You see, my parents had not only never seen me win as a professional, but they always felt like they didn't want to come watch me, because it made me nervous and messed me up. They were not the type to even come out and watch.
But this one time, they all came, and they all watched, and I won my first tournament! A lot of people have their parents there every week, and their parents have watched them forever, but my parents always felt like maybe this was a distraction. They really didn't want to come out much--"it isn't the time" sort of thing.
That was a really amazing tournament for me, especially the way it happened.
Whenever I give a lesson, it's really tough because I'm not a mechanical person, and I do not teach someone, "You need to do this" or "You need to do that." I'm more of a "feel" kind of player or a "react to the shot" type of player.
Putting is the strength of my game, and most "feel" type players are good putters: Ben Crenshaw, for example.
Consequently, I don't work on mechanics: perfectly straight back, keep it low, all that stuff.
Instead, with me, it's like you're a basketball player dribbling down the court. The defender moves left, and you just shoot. You don't really think about it--you just do it. I'm that kind of golfer.
My thought process goes like this: This putt's going to break a little bit to the left, so I'm going to play the ball off a little to the right. I'm looking at the point where I want the ball to go in.
Now, I will say, if it's real windy, widen your stance a little bit, but not a whole lot. That's kind of a feel thing too. If I'm uncomfortable, if I feel like I'm going to get blown over, I just do it. I don't worry about the structure thing; it's just another feel thing.
Then I line it up where I'm going to hit it and trust that it is going to go there. And, just often enough, it does!
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