Okay, here's what happened...
I played in a charity golf tournament on Saturday at a place called the Liberty Hills Snob Club ... oh, sorry, I mean Liberty Hills Golf Club. It was a fund raiser for the Northland Assistance Center, an agency in North Kansas City co-sponsored by our congregation. I was taking a few swings on the driving range, loosening up to participate in this charity golf tournament. It was a beautiful day, I was going to play golf with some good friends, and the money was going to a good cause - I felt pretty wonderful!
Well, I'm standing there swinging my driver when this course employee scoots up in a golf cart and walks up to me. "Sir," he says, "I'm sorry, but you can't be on the driving range in blue jeans."
For several seconds, I really did think he was joking. "Oh, really!" I said.
With the gravity of Dr. Bones saying, "He's dead, Jim" on an old Star Trek episode, the course employee said, "Yes, sir."
"This is a charity event, you know?" I queried.
"Yes, sir. But you can't wear blue jeans on the course."
"I'm not a member of the club or anything," I said. I was still very stuck-in-the-headlights about this whole thing, but at least I had figured out that this guy was serious.
"Sir, I know that you are not a member, but it is a course rule. We can't break the course rules, even for a charity event," he replied.
My temperature rose a few degrees when I heard him say that. It is the same thing country clubs say to blacks, Jews, and any other group they want to exclude, "It's a rule; we can't break the club rules, can we?"
Realizing that this young man was just doing his job, I said, "I would like to speak to your supervisor, please."
Graciously, he offered to drive me up to the clubhouse in his golf cart to speak with his boss. Now remember, all of this fuss is over blue jeans. Denim pants. No holes, no frayed ends. Just a pair of decent looking blue jeans.
In the clubhouse, I spoke to the course manager, saying, "I promise you, sir, that I will never join your club. I promise I will never darken your doors ever again. But this is a charity event, and I am the pastor of one of the churches who sponsors the charity, and I am going to play golf today in this charity event, jeans or no."
"No, sir, you are not," was the manager's reply.
Again, I was struck with the absolutely blind obedience to an absolutely ridiculous rule. "If you require it, I will play this course in my underwear," I said. (In retrospect, this was not a helpful comment! But my temperature had risen several more degrees in that past few minutes, and I was struggling to keep a lid on it!)
The manager sighed, knowing he did not want a pastor of a church playing golf in his underwear on his course, which I most definitely would have done and which most definitely would have resulted in some interesting publicity for both the country club and my church! He said, "Sir, you are not going to play in jeans, but maybe one of the golfers has a pair of rain pants you can put on."
He was trying to compromise, and I figured I could meet him there. "Okay. That is better than being told, 'You may not play.' I'll try to find someone with some rain pants." (Now, I really don't know what rain pants are, why golfers need them, or what people with only a very few pairs of pants think about golfers who have a special pair just for playing golf in the rain. I was thinking of making a joke that ends with the punchline, "In case he gets a hole in one," but I stopped myself before it was too late.)
Walking through the pro shop to seek out a rain-pants owning golfer, a gentleman stopped me and asked, "What charity are you playing for today?"
"The Northland Assistance Center in North Kansas City," I told him. "It is an agency that provides food, rent assistance, utility bill assistance, and other services."
"I'll tell you what," the gentleman said, "You pick yourself out a pair of those shorts hanging there on the rack and tell them to put it on my tab."
(Long pause again.)
"Seriously!?" I asked.
"Yes, go ahead."
I proceeded to thank the stranger profusely for his graciousness and generosity. I went to the rack and selected a pair of shorts in my size, walked up to the counter, and told the course manager to "put it on that gentleman's tab, please."
And so it was that I came to own a FIFTY DOLLAR PAIR OF SHORTS! They are by far and away the nicest shorts I own - now or ever. Furthermore, another church guy wore jeans to the tournament, and this same stranger bought HIM a pair of shorts, too!
And so, to Dr. Richard Curnow of Liberty, Missouri I say a heart felt "Thank you." Your willingness to spend a hundred dollars on a couple of denim-wearing schmucks smoothed over what was becoming a rather ridiculous situation. If anyone needs a knee replaced, I hope you go visit Dr. Curnow!
And to the Liberty Hills Golf Club, I say a well-meaning "Lighten up!" Your rigidity and mindless adherence to a ridiculous rule is laughable, to say the least. Some of the clients served by the charity whose fund raiser you hosted would love to have a pair of blue jeans like the pair you did not allow me to wear on your manicured cow pasture.
And to the Northland Assistance Center, I say a very sincere "Let's have our fund raiser at different golf course next year." We don't need to be supporting a place whose principles are so out of whack with what is truly important in the world. We can accomplish our desired end somewhere else, and I can wear whatever the heck I want to wear.
Yours in denim,