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Golf Goof-Ups

Penalties when your preaching isn’t masterful.
Golf Goof-Ups
Image: Kevin Carden / Lightstock

Although we may be masters at what we do as preachers, there are times when we foul up with goof-ups. Even masters make mistakes. In golf there are rules officials who ensure that the game goes on. We, the rules official team of Jared Alcántara, Scott M. Gibson and Joel Gregory list below the penalties for preachers who break the following preaching rules.

More Clubs in Bag than Allowed

When the preacher uses several sermon shapes in a sermon—from deductive to inductive then to semi-inductive then finally to narrative, in the end the sermon becomes a jumble.

Wrong Score Recorded on Scorecard

Occurs when a preacher exaggerates about the number of people who came to faith at the end of the sermon.

Playing Out of Turn

When the preacher jumps into the pulpit before the choir has finished singing the pre-sermon anthem.

Grounding the Club in the Hazard

When the preacher questions, in the Sunday morning sermon, the necessity of continuing a 100-year-old useless but beloved church tradition.

Ball Marking Location Penalty—Two Strokes

The preacher who preaches someone else’s sermon without credit is punished with two Sundays out of the pulpit—or up to two years, or worse. It’s not his or her ball. Two strokes and you’re out.

Hitting an Unattended Flagstick with a Putt

When the preacher unknowingly calls out on Sunday morning the otherwise widely known besetting sin of the most prominent member of the church.

Ball Moves After Address

When the preacher provides multiple false endings to the sermon through meaningless phrases such as, “As I wrap up ...,” “Before I conclude …,” “As I come to a close …"

Ball Moves After Loose Impediment Is Removed

When the preacher goes into a coughing fit after drinking the water that was supposed to help wash down the cough drop that was stuck somewhere between one's throat and stomach for the first five minutes of the sermon.

Ball in Water Hazard

A sermon on baptism that goes too deeply into the details of this important doctrine. The listeners become waterlogged and overwhelmed with disinterest.

Can also occur when the preacher’s hand gestures move as close as possible to the open glass of water or bottled water that is missing a cap throughout most of the sermon only for the glass or bottle of water to be struck down in the final minutes.

Ball Lost or Out of Bounds

When the preacher has truly lost his or her way in the sermon and doesn’t know how to get back on track or even how to end the sermon.

Ball Unplayable

An inappropriate sermon that shouldn’t be preached anywhere or at any time is rendered unplayable.


Preachers’ golf swings for sermons may or may not be the most masterful. Sometimes we feel the impact of our own club. We tee-off took quickly or slowly, we don’t observe the rules of the game. In preaching, we want to develop into masters who are able to let the sermon sail to its intended place and make the strokes that’ll sink the truth of the text into peoples’ lives.

These goof-ups can be made right with proper attention given to the text and to one’s listeners—and to ourselves.

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