Davies's comment reflects the respect King's fellow pros have for her religious beliefs. She is a regular at the tour's weekly Christian fellowship meetings, in which small groups of players in jeans and sweaters gather for Bible study and prayer. At home in Scottsdale, she often spends the evening playing hymns on her organ, accompanied by one of her two roommates on flute.
"She's as good a Christian as she is a golfer," says Bill Lewis, a retired U.S. Navy captain who conducts a golf ministry for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "I've never met a superstar athlete with so much humility."
King's faith has often been tested on the tour. In the fall of 1987, for instance, with the money title and Player of the Year within her grasp, she took a break from the tour to fulfill a commitment to Habitat for Humanity, a Christian organization that uses volunteers to build houses for the poor. King and a handful of other LPGA players spent that week helping carpenters build a house in the Tennessee mountains, and she has since made Habitat a fixture on her schedule.
"You're basically somebody's servant for a week," says King, describing the program. "Whatever they want you to do, you do—tile a floor, drive to the hardware store, work on the roof, you name it."
The work is tiring, the accommodations spartan, the food plain, and last year it snowed. But King finds the program rewarding, even fun. "We make up games," she says. "Like who can hammer the most nails, or who can hammer a nail in the fewest strokes."
Chris Stevens, director of Alternative Ministries, a Christian fellowship on the tour, contends that the fans don't know the real Betsy King. "When she won the Open," says Stevens, "that was as much emotion as she ever shows, and it wasn't a lot. But when she's working at Habitat, or when you get her to play Trivial Pursuit or Outburst, she's exuberant. A lot of people don't get to see that."
King knows that she comes off as bland, and she also thinks she knows where to place the blame: television. "On television," she says, "to come across as normal you almost have to be extreme. Look at the newscasters. They smile all the time, and it looks normal, but if you smiled all the time in real life, you'd look silly. I put on my game face because that's what I need to do to win."
Her other minor gripe about the media—overall she thinks she has been treated fairly—is that reporters sometimes shy away from her Christianity. "If they just write up the golf, that's fine," says King. "But if they tell about someone else's belief in reincarnation, they need to tell about my faith as a Christian."
The truth is, away from golf, King is far more, let's say, committed to her beliefs than most other players. At Furman, she was active in what she calls "the women's-lib thing," lobbying the university president to increase funding for women's athletics and carrying the banner of Title IX. Then she moved in another direction. "Since I've become a Christian, I've probably stepped back from that [feminism]," she says. "I'm strongly antiabortion, and a lot of people can't understand that. They say you should have 'choice.' Well, if you don't believe it's a life, I can see how you'd say that. But if you do believe it's a life, you shouldn't have a choice."
So strong are her right-to-life convictions that she can picture herself taking part in protests at abortion clinics. Says King, "Sometimes I look at Operation Rescue [an antiabortion organization] and say, 'Hey, I'd like to do that.' If I was ever in a town where they were doing that, I think I would do it, because I believe abortion is murder. I'd have no qualms with prosecuting the person for murder or the doctor or whoever. I would take it to the end."