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Perception

August 18, 2012

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KBZZ 1270 AM and 96.1 FM in Reno. Listen to Broad View live Saturdays at 2:00 PM Pacific Time.]

Letís talk about my golf game today. Iím a political commentator, thatís what I do (at least thatís what I told people at my high school reunion two weeks ago), but golf is on my mind right now because Iím playing so crappy.

Funny thing is, the crappy golf has given me insight into the liberal mind. I finally get these people! Itís like a silver lining in a cloud to get this kind of insight from playing a game badly.

Twenty years ago I was a golf fanatic and played fairly well. Sometimes I even challenged par for nine holes (if you know what that means). I loved playing, watched it on TV, and read golf magazines religiously. I even attended a senior PGA event where Gary Player yelled at my daughter. Twice. (Iím not a big fan of Gary Player, you can believe that.)

But then I got divorced, became pretty much a single father, and one April day when a new golf league season was about to start, I realized I couldnít come home from work every Tuesday, dismiss the daytime babysitter, and then leave my two daughters with another babysitter. It simply wouldnít be right. So I gave up golf cold turkey.

Men are generally slow-witted when it comes to conflict between sports and family, but once in a while the correct choice manages to penetrate our dense reptilian brains.

When I recently moved back to Michigan, I started getting calls from my former golf partner of twenty years ago, looking for a sub. I was rusty after so many years, but enjoyed myself anyway and eventually replaced his permanent full-time partner. So here I am, playing with the same guy who was my partner twenty years ago. What are the odds?

Trouble is, even though Iíve returned, my golf game has not. I got old during these last twenty years, and one of the things that got old was my eyes. In order to read books and spreadsheets and menus-in-dark-restaurants now, I wear a contact lens for reading in my left eye. Itís like bifocals for contact wearers. My brain uses the left eye for reading and the right eye for distance and somehow puts the two inputs together and stitches a coherent picture of the world that works for everything... everything except golf.

See, when a right hander brings his club back to start a golf swing, he keeps his eye on the ball and the eye heís keeping on the ball is his left eye. My reading eye. The one that normally doesnít see things further than two feet away. Itís a problem. Fortunately, the problem is fixable by removing that reading lens and using both eyes for distance, which prevents me from reading the score card but allows me to see my golf ball in exquisite detail during the backswing, but... that causes another problem.

See, my brain is so used to the reading contact in my left eye that it refuses to believe what it sees without it. I pull the club back, I see the ball clearly, and I try my darnedest to bring the club back through in the same arc, but instinct takes over at some point and my brain starts screaming, ďThe ball is too close! The ball is too close!Ē No matter how hard I try to ignore that screaming, my body listens and pulls back. And when it comes to golf swings, all it takes is a tiny pullback to ruin everything. It means instead of hitting the ball, you tick the top of it just enough to make it roll forward a few feet.

Itís excruciatingly embarrassing. Especially on the first tee, where the problem is the worst and the whole golf league is lined up watching me. Itís so bad that everybody stops talking when I get ready to tee off, anticipating the great fun Iím about to give them. Generally I tick two straight balls off the first tee before I manage to override the brain scream and make solid contact, and by then the golf league is belly laughing and rolling on the ground like a bunch of bonobo apes, the bastards.

Iím missing the stupid golf ball even though I see it clearly because my perception of the ballís location is different than the reality. Itís right there in front of me, Iím getting all the necessary data to pinpoint its location, my eyes see it perfectly, and I know the history of whatís happened on all the previous swings when I pulled back Ė missing the ball and humiliating myself Ė but my brain just wonít accept the information itís getting. In other words, when it comes to hitting a golf ball Iím a liberal.

I finally understand what itís like to be deluded about the world around me.

That's... todayís dose of common sense.

"I've always talked to players about perception and reality. I don't worry about perception." Ė Tony Dungy

"But those who believe that what our people desire is big government are living in a state of delusion." Ė Marco Rubio

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." Ė Carl Sagan


From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

August 20, 2012 - Jim congrats on your three millions hits! That is almost as many times as you have hit the golf ball this year. - Pat T., Michigan
J.P. replies: Pat is my golf partner. See what kind of moral support I get when I'm embarrassing myself?



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