There were moments early in Aaron Baddeley’s golf career that he wondered whether he should step back from the game.
He had been contemplating ministry, and had always said that if he weren’t a professional golfer, he’d become a preacher, Baddeley told a crowd of about 1,000 who gathered for an early morning breakfast at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta on Tuesday.
“God said it to me loud and clear. God did not call me to ministry. God called me to golf,” he said.
Years later, Baddeley has both. Golf has given him a platform to share his faith with fans and players, he said.
“It’s not just about playing golf, but doing the Lord’s work,” the 31-year-old Australian said.
The annual breakfast where Baddeley spoke is a Masters Week tradition sponsored by the Greater Augusta Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Past speakers have included golfers Ben Crane, Larry Mize and Stewart Cink and broadcaster Pat Summerall.
Zach Johnson spoke at the breakfast the last time Masters Sunday fell on Easter, noted Warren’s pastor, the Rev. David McKinley.
“Zach Johnson went on to win. No pressure,” he told Baddeley with a laugh.
Baddeley went on to offer fans a behind-the-scenes look at his career since he first made news in 2000,after receiving a rare invitation as a foreign amateur to play in the Masters. He missed the cut by one shot that year.
This week, Baddeley is playing his seventh Masters. His best showing came in 2009, when he tied for 17th. He’s currently ranked 39th in the world.
There have been highs and lows since then, he said. Baddeley started 2011 ranked 274th in the world.
“I wouldn’t choose to struggle with my game. I wouldn’t choose to go through tough times. It’s not fun,” Baddeley said.
But it’s during times of uncertainty that Baddeley said he learned to trust God.
“Am I walking in the direction, am I walking in the path that you have set before me?” Baddeley said he asks God. “Every time I ask these questions I have a peace and a joy.”
He turns to scriptures such as Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28.
“Scriptures like these just give you confidence to know that God always has what’s best for you,” he said. “His desire for our lives is nothing but the best. … His love is so great for you and me that he’d rather die on a cross than live an eternity without you.”
McKinley, the pastor, prayed over Baddeley before the golfer set off for the course.
“Father, we know we can’t put a green jacket on this man today,” he prayed, “but we give you thanks that you’ve already put your favor on his life.”