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GO FOR THE GREEN: Spiritual Lessons for Life From the Game of Golf
Jeff Hopper
J. Countryman Books
Devotional
ISBN: 1404101020

If you're looking for a gift book that will suit the avid golfer in your life to a "tee," look no further than GO FOR THE GREEN. Jeff Hopper's 365 competent, straightforward golf-themed devotions, packaged together with graphics and photos, make a compelling combination.

What do golf and faith have to do with each other, besides make for a gifty devotional? Writes Hopper, "…golf has taught me that God doesn't show up only at church. He can meet us wherever we are. Often for me that has been on the golf course." Judging by the number of golfers out on Sunday mornings, one would think he makes a good case.

The first thing you notice about this well-designed little gift book is how beautifully it fits in your hand --- or would fit into your golf bag. J. Countryman is a leading publisher of gift books, and its expertise in making this volume irresistible, aesthetic-wise, is obvious the moment you pick it up and leaf through the pages. From the embossed dimples on the golf ball on the cover to the gold foil letters of the title, impulse purchase is written all over the book.

Although golfers could certainly buy this for themselves, it is obviously designed to be given to the golfer in your life, from the opening page gift plate page ("A gift for….from") to the decorated end-papers. There's a ribbon marker, essential to any good daily devotional, and the binding looks tough enough to withstand 365 days of wear and tear, and to accommodate a little banging around in the golf bag.

Beginning in chronological order with January and divided by golf seasons ("The Off Season," "The Majors Season," "The Golf Season," "The Silly Season"), each page is laid out with the date, a scripture verse, and a very brief devotional of about three to five paragraphs. A cute graphic with a golf ball teed up and ready to play marks the devotion's beginning. Four color-photos decorate the section dividers throughout the book.

Each pale-green page also contains a boxed golf tip, including some from golf professional Doug Scrivner. Although some feel like filler ("Don't forget the sunscreen, players") most are thoughtful and practical:

"When reading putts, pay closest attention to the last five feet."

"As you improve with your wedges, you'll want to keep those grooves clean for more spin."

"If you like your standard putter but are missing short putts, try a cross-handed grip."

Permeating the book is the author's love of golf. Hopper is the editor of Links Letter, a bi-monthly publication devoted to golf and faith, and also writes for www.linksplayers.com, the official web site for Links Players International.

Hopper writes in an approachable, conversational style that should be appealing to both women and men who feel more comfortable with a nine iron in their hand than a book. The devotions are simple, usually beginning with a paragraph about something pertaining to golf, then a line or two making a spiritual correlation. In the last paragraph or two, Hopper drives his point home, lest the reader miss the application. There's nothing subtle here --- just straightforward good golf talk and ideas for deepening your spiritual life. From tee to green, he covers an admirable range of topics: sharing your faith, forgiving yourself on the golf course and learning from mentors in both life and in golf.

Admirably, Hopper tries to keep the book applicable to golfers of both genders, referencing both male and female golf legends. The book's content still has a masculine glaze to it ("Men have one standard question they ask new partners on the golf course…"), but it's appropriate for women as well.

This charming book is an accessible, light read, and its lovely packaging makes it perfect for gift-giving.

   --- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby (phrelanzer@aol.com)

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