(Image: David L. Cook)
At the outset of his newest book, Johnny's U.S. Open: Golf's Sacred Journey 2, sports psychologist and author Dr. David L. Cook wants to make one thing perfectly clear – the movie "Seven Days in Utopia," based on his first book in the series, is quite different and not as spiritually deep as either book.
"These performance journeys that we are on and these success callings that we are on, that include winning and losing, are really part of a bigger story," Cook told The Christian Post in a recent interview. "I wanted to make that real clear in the book and so that was the real purpose of this book sequel."
Cook, who has coached scores of top athletes for game day including PGA Tour winners, NBA World Champions and MVPs, Olympians, National Collegiate Champions, and many top executives at Fortune 500 companies, said the first book, Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia, was really a look at what it takes to be great in one of the games of life – golf.
"A director came along and read it and said this should be a movie and then all of a sudden Robert Duvall became involved, and interestingly this evolved into something huge," he explained. "All along I knew at some point there needs to be a sequel."
Cook said he knew that he would eventually have to address a question posed in the first book.
"I left people hanging in the first book, this guy's putting for victory, the ball goes towards the hole and at that point I end it creatively without telling if it went in or not because at that point I'm really hoping that people get the message, because at that point it really doesn't matter whether the ball goes in or not," he said. "I wanted to leave it up to the [reader's] imagination, but I wanted the story to go much deeper. Most people got it, but I went ahead and wrote the ending and put it on the website (three years ago) and a million people have viewed that."
Cook said that once the movie came out, thousands of more people came onto the website to read the "stand-alone chapter" and discover whether the putt was made or not. Eventually, he decided that the chapter would serve as a "bridge" between the two books.
He filmed a reading of this bridge chapter in the Waresville Cemetery in Utopia, Texas. The cemetery is located in the center of the "Links of Utopia" golf course and was the location of the defining Easter morning cemetery scene in the book and movie, Cook writes in the introduction of Johnny's U.S. Open.
He posted the reading of the chapter on the website as an open invitation to anyone who wanted to continue their journey and "bury their lies" in the Buried Lies Cemetary in Utopia, Texas.
"I could not have imagined what would happen next," Cook writes. "Over one million people have gone to the website didhemaketheputt.com after the reading of the book or watching the movie. Thousands have sent their buried lies for us to bury in Utopia."
Cook holds retreats one or two times a year in Utopia that include the burying of lies.
"I give people the chance to take the lies that have really held them back in their life and remove them and bury them," he told CP. "They send them to me (by email) and I bury them. We do that in the cemetery in Utopia. It's a symbolic representation of 'I'm going to get rid of these. I'm going to remove the lies that I sort of live my life by and I'm going to accept the truth that God says I am instead of the lies that the enemy or the world says I am.'"
He adds, "We have had thousands and thousands of people come to Utopia, probably more people than have come to the 'Field of Dreams' baseball field, on a trek and search to bury the lies, to look where the movie was filmed, to play around the golf course and just to think and go to that cemetery."
Cooks said the experience of seeing what has come out of the book and the movie has been both humbling and overwhelming. A woman's prison has used the book as study material and "went out into the prison yard to bury their lies."
"A woman from the prison said that this little golf book started a revival in the prison," Cook said.
He explained that the book sequel has several messages.
"One is grace. I think that the ending is about grace, which is the Gospel. [Secondly], the power of influence that God gives us. The title of the book is Johnny's U.S. Open. Johnny did not go to the U.S. Open, but Johnny changed the world by what happened at the U.S. Open," he said.
The third message revolves around the two terms that he says he's coined.
"One is 'dream seed.' Dream seed is that purpose-calling design that we have that God puts into us and calls us out," Cook explained. "A lot of people get that seed and never plant it. It stays inside of them. Second term that I coin around that is God puts 'dream guardians' in our lives and He also calls us to be a dream guardian. What I mean is that it is someone that sees in us when we can't see it ourselves and calls out of us greatness and purpose and calling that God has put in us."
In his explanation about the sequel book, he says, "Everybody that saw the movie, you have to get that out of your head because I wrote this book as though the movie had never been made. Hollywood changed up the characters. There's a great message in the movie, but because of the way movies are made, it's shallow and changes the character."
In his books and work as a personal coach in sports and business, Cook says his goal is to work on the "heart and mind journey" of individuals and adds, "God has a deeper purpose than just holding the trophy. God gave me this awhile back, He told me that 'sports psychology is not your foundation, it's the platform that I've given you for sowing seeds.'"
On the Web, http://www.linksofutopia.com/cms.