‘Fore the gospel’: Southern Baptist pastor and professor enjoys volunteering at PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — As a pastor and evangelism professor, Tim Beougher always seeks opportunities to share the gospel. This week, though, he has spent time on God’s creation — the outdoors and golf — with the desire to be an ambassador for his city.

He worked as a volunteer Monday and Tuesday and finished up on Thursday at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. In that role, his opportunities to engage with people have been limited because of the scope of his duties.

Interaction with professional golfers and caddies during the practice rounds the first two days was limited to a “thank you” from several of them.

Beougher, who pastors West Broadway Baptist Church and is a long-time faculty member at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the rule of thumb for volunteers is to “speak only when spoken to” by the tournament players.

During a lull one day, he had a lengthy discussion with a visitor from North Dakota, who Beougher learned is a fellow believer.

In representing Louisville, Beougher exemplifies Jer. 29:7: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Beougher concedes that his volunteer role has elicited some ribbing from friends and peers. One student labeled this week “Fore the gospel,” combining a golf term with a biblical perspective.

He said volunteers are there to “work and watch golf balls and keep order — you are there to do a job and your job is not to speak.”

Beougher has been stationed each day at the short par-four fourth hole. The first day he was at the tee box with his duty to wave a flag to warn people down the right and left sides of the hole if the ball was headed in their direction. The next day, he was in the landing area helping with balls that were hit outside the ropes.

As a golfer, he marveled at the ability of the pros regarding their placement of three-woods used off the tee and their execution of shots into the green — even from positions in deep rough. “I enjoy seeing people who are good at what they do, and this is an opportunity to see golfers do that,” he said. 

Beougher noted most of the players had an entourage accompanying them — such as a swing coach and psychological coach. Tiger Woods had two security officers along with his group.

Scottie Scheffler, currently the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world and the favorite to win his third consecutive PGA championship, “was relaxed as he could be.” Scheffler stepped away from the tour last week to be with his wife, Meredith, when she gave birth to the couple’s first child.

Volunteers get free admission to the tournament, but there is a cost involved most people don’t know. Volunteers must purchase two shirts, a jacket and hat — which amounts to about $290.

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