The Way of an Eagle
by Bob Darden,
P. J. Richardson,
We've grown to expect excellence from the Weaver clan. DeWitt's father was a legendary football coach at Texas Tech, while DeWitt was a multisport letterman at SMU. As an amateur, he dominated Georgia golf before turning pro in 1964.
On the PGA Tour, Weaver was at his best in the early '70s, winning the 1971 U.S. Professional Match Play and 1972 Southern Open. In 1971, he finished in the top twenty-five in total earnings.
Weaver joined the Senior Tour in 1989 and almost immediately vaulted into the upper echelon of touring pros. He's already earned nearly two million dollars and taken home the winner's trophy at the 1991 Bank One Senior Classic. Weaver has led the circuit in eagles twice and has, in recent years, fired amazing rounds of 61 and 62 at different tournaments.
I was raised in a Christian environment, although we only went to church at Christmas and Easter. I believed in Christ, but I didn't really have a relationship with Him. I didn't really acquire that, or gain that, until I met my wife and a good friend of mine in the late '60s.
My wife, Sheri, was actually going to become a nun when I met her. She is probably the finest woman I've ever met; she did so much for me and brought me so much closer to the Lord. And while I was raised a Protestant, after meeting Sheri, I became a Catholic.
But I still didn't really have a personal relationship with Christ, and I was a selfish person. I wanted to play golf, and I wanted to do everything for myself. I was really selfish in the early stages of my career, when I was in my late twenties.
I was really struggling. I was smoking. I was drinking. I was missing qualifying cuts. I was really depressed and having a hard time. I was away from my family when I met a friend of mine out on the West Coast, Cobby Ware from Atlanta. I said, "Cobby, what do I need to do?"
And he said, "You just need to turn it over to the Lord. Give your life to Christ. You need a personal relationship with Christ. He'll lead you along. You're trying to do things on your own, you're struggling, and you're depressed. Put that responsibility on the Lord and really let Him lead you along."
I immediately understood what he meant. I had been trying to do that myself. I believed in Jesus Christ and knew that He was the Son of God and that He was going to save me, but I really didn't know to just turn my life over to Him. I was taking all of the responsibility on to myself and not giving it to the Lord. I didn't know that until that time, even though my wife was a Christian long before me. She already had a personal relationship with Christ, but I really didn't know how to get this relationship. I had to find out on my own time by being at my lowest time.
Through my discussions with Cobby Ware, I began to understand what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ meant, and that gave me an opportunity to ask Christ into my life. Once I did that, it just seemed like a huge burden was lifted off me.
Cobby and Ramsey Gilchrist are now involved with our Tour Bible study group. They're the two leaders of our Tour Chapel. They come out and lead our Bibles studies and Chapels and they're always there for us. They were with Bert Yancey's family in 1994 when he passed away, and they've been there when we've had problems or somebody is sick. They're wonderful people, and it really has been a great relationship to have them out on our Tour.
Isn't it difficult maintaining your Christian faith in the fishbowl of professional golf?
I don't think it is all that tough. Some people may look at you differently. Some players look at me differently, but they knew me back when I wasn't this way. All I want to project is love. I love my family. I love everybody out there on the Tour. If sometimes they think I am trying to gain favor by being the way I am, all I can say is that I truly love everybody on this Tour. I love the game of golf.
And mostly I love Christ for doing what He did for us. I know we're going to be with our friends and loved ones forever and ever.
My wife travels with me, and all three of my sons and my son-in-law have caddied for me. It has been a wonderful family experience. On my PGA Tour I had to leave them and go out on my own, which was a hard, hard thing. I gave up the Tour in 1976 because of that.
Now, I don't pretend to be perfect by any means, and none of us ever will be, but I really try hard. I always ask the Lord to lead me along the way. I gave my life over to Him to guide me. And still we are tempted by the devil and things happen that aren't really Christlike. But we're always forgiven by the Lord. And things get so much better, and we're less and less tempted, because the Lord's never going to put anything in front of you that's more than you can handle.
In 1971 I was at my daughter's house. She had a tremendous influence on me because she became a Christian at Black Rock Mountain FCA Camp back in high school, and she came back just beaming. And she's continued to beam.
Anyway, I was at her house, and up on the wall was a plaque that said, "Delight yourself in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4).
It made such an impression that, still to this day, I inscribe that on all my golf balls. I give them away to people. It has come back to me in a lot of ways.
I keep that in mind and put that on my golf balls because it always gave me an inner peace when I saw that. It always reminded me that the Lord is with me at all times, regardless of whether I'm winning, regardless of whether I'm playing well or not. It always gives me peace. And if you have that peace, you're able to play to a level of ability you wouldn't believe.
I've played with Lee Trevino in both Tours, and he's had a tremendous change of heart. He has a new family, a new set of values, and I truly believe that the man is a real Christian. And now he talks about the Lord.
It all began when we were playing together not long ago and he looked down at my golf ball where I had inscribed "Psalm 37:4" on it. Then we got into a conversation about what life is all about--as opposed to just golf.
Lee Trevino used to be entirely golf oriented. That was his whole life. All he ever did was golf, golf, golf. And now he has a family. And he truly has a pure heart, where before, golf was all there was to life. I think the man is truly at peace now, much more than he ever was.
And that quotation on those golf balls gave me an opportunity to discuss that with him.
As for the Tour, back in 1991, I finished third in Atlanta and won $50,000. Then I went up to Lexington the next week, and I played the last three holes and two holes of a play-off to beat J.C. Snead to win the tournament.
And the whole time, all I thought about was walking with the Lord in peace. Not for His favor, but for His glory.
It's all balance in golf. Balance is a very important part of the golf swing. It's a transfer of true weight to the right side. If you'll notice, all baseball players are 100 percent on their right side, setting up, ready to hit a baseball. That is the same place a golfer has to be for his backswing. You're making a shift to your right side and actually getting behind the ball. And from that position, you're swinging up and down the line. And once you move your weight forward, you're moving everything into it, and the club will square up right at impact every time.
So many golfers' balance works opposite. They sort of reverse tilt or bend forward going back, and when they come through, they appear to fall backward trying to lift the ball into the air.
A ball has to be hit down in order for it to go up, and hit up to go down. It's just like shooting a cue ball. If you hit the top of the ball, it's going to turn over and roll forward. If you hit down on it, it is going to go up. It's the same idea in golf. And it will help a person's balance to move through from the left side, hitting down while the ball goes up--staying in perfect balance.
You can put both feet together. A great example is Jim Albus. The idea is to put both feet together on the right side, standing together, and step into the ball like a batter does in baseball.
Use a batting tee occasionally, and hit some balls off it. If you can ever get to the point where you can hit it solidly off a batting tee, you'll never miss one off the ground. If you swing at a ball on a raised tee, you're going to hit underneath it every single time. If you learn to hit through, and hit the ball solidly, you'll really improve your game.
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