The Way of an Eagle

by Bob Darden,
P. J. Richardson,
Robert Darden




Stan Utley

My parents were both Christians and I grew up in the Church of Christ tradition in Thayer, a small town in southern Missouri. My mom's side of the family, she has a sister and 2 brothers, are all Church of Christ. Going as far back as my grandparents, there have been no divorces on that side of the family. So there's been a great example set, and that had a big influence on my life.
My upbringing in the Church of Christ is very fundamental. We were taught that not only must you accept the Lord and ask forgiveness, but you need to be baptized as well. I feel like I understood the principles at an early age, but I was about 15 or 16 before I actually made that commitment, went up and was baptized.
I think it was a decision I'd labored with for a long time and I don't know whether I struggled with the commitment or simply the display of faith. Certainly, in my upbringing, I understood that it wasn't just good people going to heaven – there was an acceptance there you had to make.
It was a great day in my life, and I certainly remember the circumstances. There was a preacher doing a revival, speaking every evening for a week. A couple of us went up that night, including a friend of mine. It was a great day.
As far as pressures from being a Christian, I think I dealt with those early on – even in high school – because I never drank or did drugs. You have to make those decisions early on, because either you're going to or you're not going to. I found myself something of a loner in high school and college because I was in a minority as far as that stand goes. But I also found myself being respected, especially in college among my golf team members. I played golf at Missouri and they never pressured me; they always respected the fact that I made my choices and they made their choices. So I dealt with things like that early on and they haven't been a problem since.
One of the interesting things about being out here on the PGA Tour is that I grew up in a small town and small church atmosphere, so I wasn't exposed to a variety of regions. I found out later that several Christian churches claim to be "the church." Yet the Church of Christ people I grew up around felt like you needed to be a member of the Church of Christ in order to be saved. When you grow up with that belief, that's just something you accept.
The thing that's been enlightening on the PGA Tour has been being among strong Christians who didn't come up from the Church of Christ and yet are good Bible scholars, Christians who are stronger in their faith than I might be.
And the more I learn, the less I judge. That's kind of been my approach.
I have a church that I go to at home, one I've gone to for the last 3 years. It's a Bible church; it doesn't even have a title. And I like that! We have a great pastor who teaches from the Word and I'm comfortable with that at this point.
I've felt very blessed being involved with the Bible study on the Tour. I know that in 1992, when I was off the Tour, I missed it. Even though they have the FCA Bible study on the NIKE Tour, which I attended pretty regularly, Larry Moody and David Krueger are about as strong as it gets when it comes to teaching from then Word. That's been a good influence out here.
The Tour is also interesting in that I wouldn't call it a close bunch of people. It's so businesslike, it's so ongoing, and there are so many demands on you. If you've got 2 or 3 couples you can go out to dinner with once a month – you're doing pretty well.
My wife travels with me on the Tour some, though not full-time, so we're really close and we do great – just the two of us. Out here, I can't say that there's been any pressure put on me as a Christian, nor have I taken any harassment at all.

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