Phil Spencer

My column for the Parksville Qualicum News, February 22, 2018.

We’ve lived in our house for a good length of time and somehow accumulated more than required. In response to that we have been doing some “thinning,” which has led to questions such as, “Why did we get this in the first place?” and even, “What is this?” This mission has taken me to the depths of the crawl space where I discovered a good number of golf balls. I’m assuming that they’ve been breeding because there seem to be more than I remember. Some are in the original packages because I haven’t been golfing much of late. I presently spend more time pedaling than slicing, but as it is quite possible that I may resume the sport with more intensity at some point, I decided to hang on to them.  


The discovery of this trove of golf balls got me thinking about what curious little creatures they are. I have had familiarity with them since I was in primary school, but somehow I hadn’t considered the obvious. They are roundish in shape when you look at them from afar, but up close you can see that they are not perfectly round. They are covered in dimples, which makes them at best imperfectly round. Avoiding the work of “thinning” for a while I began to do some research on golf balls. As it turns out, the number of dimples on a golf ball varies with the brand and the model. Apparently                    there are somewhere between 300 and 500 dimples on a golf ball, each having a depth of 1/100 of an inch, and 336 dimples being the average number found on a typical ball. The dimples are usually the same size, but some golf balls actually have several different sizes of dimple on the same ball. They are not randomly placed either, being positioned in patterns related to something called “platonic solids.” At this point I abandoned my research as I found myself flashing back to my days as a poor math student. But here’s the thing: it seems that a perfectly round ball will not travel as far as a dimpled one, which will usually travel twice the distance that a round one will when driven. News you can use.  


For many in the Christian Church, we are now observing the season of Lent, a time when disciples are invited to reflect with some fresh intentionality on their lives. We begin with the awareness that we are imperfect and, if you are like me, impressively so. It is also understood that God addressed that imperfection through the work of Jesus on Good Friday, the penultimate day of the Lenten season. Even so, we remain flawed, something much less than perfect. The remarkable thing is that God is very much in the business of using our imperfection to bring life to the world. So we take this time to reflect on our lives—flawed and dimpled as they may be. Amazingly, those broken places are often just the ones that God is seeking to use in our no-less broken world.