Appreciating Your Victories

for the week of August 26, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

When Rich Beem won the 2002 PGA Championship, it was with a four- under 68 that showed he could withstand the pressure of a big match. After all, he had Tiger Woods breathing down his neck with birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie golf on the final four holes of the tournament.

Sports writers called it an "improbable victory" for him. He is far better known for being a free spirit who has occasionally raised eyebrows with his profanity during interviews. But some think and Beem himself claims that he has learned a lot. Matured. Gotten a hold on his personal life.

He was once so frustrated with life generally and his golf prospects in particular that he quit playing professionally. Back in 1995, he packed it in to sell cellular phones and car stereos. It looked like his dream had ended in failure.

Now don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with a career in sales. I know some men and women who enjoy the work. They are gifted sales people who like nothing more than the challenge of showing the excellence of their brand of cell phone, car stereo, or widget to a customer. Every day is an adventure.

It's just that Rich Beem isn't one of those people. He hated his job. He wasn't good at his job. He longed to be back on the course with his clubs. But he would have to be able to make a living at it and that had not worked before.

He decided to have one more go at it. So he scrambled to qualify for the Kemper Open back in 1999 and wound up a contender. Just back on the Tour and with a biggest-ever paycheck to date of $5,000, everyone expected him to fold then. But he didn't! He led the tournament from wire to wire and recorded his first win on the PGA Tour. It was sweet. "The Beemer" had proved he could play.

But what about the PGA Championship? And what about with Tiger Woods charging? He stayed focused and won a tournament that changes a golfer's life.

One thing that helps him with focus is that he still has his ID card from that sales job he hated. "I'm going to keep that card forever," says Beem, "just as a reminder it could always be worse."

Life has its setbacks. You'll get frustrated with a job or relationship and want to pack it in. But if it was ever part of your life's dream, don't abandon it. Focus. Try again. Summon all the courage and strength God can give you.

Today's frustration may yet be your key for appreciating what lies ahead.

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