One day while hitting practice balls at the original Utopia driving range, the owner drove by. He lived near the 8th green of this minimalist nine-holer we affectionately called a goat ranch. That’s the name given in Texas to golf courses of this caliber. He stopped to say hello. I asked how he conceived the idea to build a driving range and course in the middle of nowhere. His name was Wayne. His answer was priceless: “Well sonny, I am an ole goat rancher. When the goat business went belly up I had to do something with my property so I built a golf course.” It indeed was a goat ranch and worse yet, a defunct one! Wayne passed away a few years later not knowing how profound his decision to build a course would be to the world.
As life moved on I wrote a novel that revolved around this simple but special golf course in Utopia, Texas. God downloaded the story; I was but the scribe on the front row. One day after the book was published a man named Buddy stopped in a barber shop in Dallas to get what he later told me was his final haircut. Life had thrown him a curve and in his mind the only way out was to end it all. He had already purchased a gun and made a plan. While in the barbershop he noticed a book lying among the magazines. He saw that it was about golf so he picked it up and began to read. The Lord allowed this book to capture his mind and heart. He asked the barber if he could take it and read it. The barber agreed and really didn’t know where it had come from. It seems the Lord had prompted someone to leave it there.
That afternoon he read the novel cover to cover. God spoke to him and gave him hope through the words of this book. He chose life that day. He drove to a lake where he threw the gun as far as he could into the lake. Within a few months Buddy showed up at the next men’s retreat in Utopia and gave his life to Jesus.
Listen to this… today he lives in the ole goat rancher’s home on the 8th green of the Links of Utopia. He is truly God’s Buddy. I know that Wayne is in heaven with Jesus looking down and marveling that God used his defunct goat ranch in the middle of nowhere for eternal purposes. And I stand in awe…