The Final Four

By Mark Hopper

The Final Four championship of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament was held in San Antonio, Texas a few weeks ago in the huge Alamo Dome. I actually attended the Final Four At that same location about 20 years ago.  It was a great experience that I still remember. Unfortunately, my favorite college teams were not there then and they were not there again this year.

One of my favorite memories from my Final Four experience was the plane ride back home to California. I had traveled with a couple of college basketball coaches. We flew on my favorite airline – Southwest. Twenty years ago, some of the Southwest planes had seats that faced each other. We ended up in the back of the plane facing three other gentlemen flying back to LA.

We had a fascinating conversation with the men sitting across from us. One of them had actually played basketball for USC many years earlier. His name was David Price. After college and law school, he eventually developed a business managing golf courses. He was the owner of American Golf. His company owned or managed over 200 golf courses across the country!

He was a quiet and unassuming man. I would have never guessed that the man sitting across from me in the back of a crowed airplane owned and managed golf courses. I even asked him why he didn’t have his own plane? He said that he did at one time but it wasn’t very cost effective.

We not only talked about his business success, we also talked about his personal life and faith. He shared with us how he had become a follower of Jesus through the influence of some teenagers that he met at a local gym.

He also shared a story of how he was led to invest some of his wealth in a new Christian school that was starting in Thousand Oaks. Some friends had challenged him to contribute to this project, but he saw no reason to help build a school. His children were already grown. Why should he help?

Eventually, he did contribute to the cause. Today, Oaks Christian High School is one of the athletic powerhouses in Southern California. And, although his own children were too old to attend, eventually some of his grandchildren did!

When we finally arrive back in LA, he gave me one of his business cards and invited me to play a round of golf at one of his courses. He instructed me to call his secretary and she would arrange it.

A few days later, I wrote him a thank you note and told him how much I enjoyed our conversation.  I also told him that my father in law was a golfer and was coming to LA. I shared with Mr. Price that what I would really love to do would be to play a round of golf with him and my father in law.

He wrote back and thanked me for my note and expressed how much he enjoyed our conversation on the airplane, too. However, he didn’t think my idea would work out because although he owned and managed many golf courses across the country – he didn’t play golf! Amazing!

You may not be a golfer either, but I hope you are a follower of Jesus. Young and old, wealthy and poor – everyone is welcome to follow Him!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd


Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 Am