Shortly after the Pope had apologized to the Jewish People for the treatment
of Jews by the Catholic Church over the years, Ariel Sharon, the Prime
Minister of Israel, sent a proposal to the College of Cardinals for a
friendly game of golf to be played between the two leaders or their
representatives to demonstrate the friendship and ecumenical spirit shared
by the Catholics and the Jews.
The Pope then met with his College of Cardinals to discuss the proposal.
“Your Holiness,” said one of the Cardinals, “Mr. Sharon wants to challenge
you to a game of golf to show that you are old and unable to compete. I am
afraid that this would tarnish our image in the world.”
The Pope thought about this and since he had never held a golf club in his
life asked, “Don’t we have a Cardinal to represent me?”
“None who plays golf very well,” a Cardinal replied. “But,” he added,
“there is a man named Jack Nicklaus, an American golfer, who is a devout
Catholic. We can offer to make him a Cardinal, and then ask him to play Mr.
Sharon as your personal representative. In addition to showing our spirit of
cooperation, we will also win the match.
Everyone agreed that this was a great idea. The call was made. Of course,
Nicklaus was honored and he agreed to play as a representative of the Pope.
The day after the match, Nicklaus reported to the Vatican to inform the Pope
of the result.
“I have some good news and some bad news, Your Holiness,” said the golfer.
“Tell me the good news, Cardinal Nicklaus,” said the Pope.
“Well, Your Holiness, I don’t like to brag, but even though I have played
some pretty terrific rounds of golf in my life, this was the best I have
ever played, by far. I must have been inspired from above. My drives were
long and true, my irons were accurate and purposeful, and my putting was
perfect. With all due respect, my play was truly miraculous.”
“How can there be bad news?” the Pope asked.
Nicklaus sighed, “I lost to Rabbi Tiger Woods by three strokes.