Three monks are playing golf....
No, it's not a setup for a joke. The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, sits upon a hill next to the Erin Hills golf course, where the U.S. Open will be played this week. Holy Hill is the highest point of the Kettle Morain, the landscape formed by glaciers that the shrine shares with the 632-acre course.
The basilica's three fathers are avid golfers when not engaged in two hours of daily prayer, conducting Mass and ministering to "pilgrims" who visit the church, built in 1863. The Golf Channel's Jimmy Roberts did a heart-warming report on the monks' love for the game.
Fathers Don Brick and Michael Berry and Brother John-Mary Winter wear regular clothes instead of their robes when they take to the fairways.
Father Brick, in a separate report, says he plays once a week at different courses, including Erin Hills, which is bringing the Open to Wisconsin for the first time. The three, who told Roberts they began playing in childhood, displayed good swings and a serenity unshaken by golf's frustrations.
The monks' enthusiasm for the game was reminiscent of Michael Murphy's "Golf in the Kingdom," the 1971 novel about a mythical Scottish pro named Shivas Irons who teaches golf's spirituality. As I watched Roberts' piece, I imagined Shivas there with them, sharing their joy.
The scenes of the three together on the immaculate Erin Hills fairways displayed what makes the game great: camaraderie, sportsmanship and the quest to reach our better selves.