CASTLE ROCK - During the days before The International in August, Ben Crane spent practice rounds studying the tricky greens at Castle Pines Golf Club and adjusting to playing golf a mile above sea level.
But the most important part of his preparation for the tournament came off the course at the Summerfield Suites on Wednesday night, the eve of the tournament. It was then that Crane attended a weekly traveling Bible study known as a “fellowship meeting” with other PGA Tour players and some of their family members. “It’s the most important thing in my life — my faith in the Lord,” Crane said. “So it’s obviously a big part of my golf game as well.” Life on the PGA Tour can be lonely, tiring and — considering players get paid only when they make the cut at a tournament — incredibly stressful. The weekly meetings help Crane and his wife, Heather, alleviate some of the strain. “We’ve talked many times about how we don’t know how people could endure the highs and lows out here without a sense of faith,” Heather Crane said. “It is very important to us.” They aren’t alone. Evangelical Christianity has a huge presence on the PGA Tour. Studies, Christianity-based though non-denominational, average about 20 people, including about 10 who are “fairly regular,” Ben Crane said. Heather Crane is involved in additional Bible study for the wives of PGA Tour players. And Links Players International, a ministry that combines golf and religion, lists more than 50 PGA Tour pros on its web site as “players who have a relationship with Christ.” The “fellowship meetings” held before PGA Tour events are run by Rev. Lawrence E. Moody, the president of Search Ministries, a national organization that has been working with golfers on the PGA Tour for more than 25 years. Moody did not return multiple messages seeking comment. The PGA Tour provides credentials for Moody at its tournaments but he is not affiliated with the Tour. Still, it seems omnipresent. Scott Simpson, the 1987 U.S. Open champion, is a Search Ministries board member, and Aaron Baddeley, Jonathan Byrd, Lee Janzen and Steve Jones are regulars at fellowship meetings. “There are some guys who don’t want anything to do with it, and there are some guys who are kind of in the middle,” Crane said. “And there are some guys who are all in.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0365 or firstname.lastname@example.org