Not that golf writers set the behaviour bar very high at the best of times, but even by their standards this contraption can be distinctly weird.
Its gleaming and futuristic exterior lures you in with the promise of an exotic sensory experience. Yet depress one of the array of gleaming silver buttons down its front in the hope of a reviving espresso, cappuccino or macchiato and, well, nothing much happens.
It gurgles a bit. There is a faint grinding sound. A few drops of water dribble apologetically from a chrome pipe. It then lapses back into inactivity before gurgling a bit more. And then ... whoosh! Skoosh! Shazam! A shot of dark liquid hurtles down the pipe and the appliance is engulfed by steam. Quite literally, it has a fit of the vapours. And you've got your coffee at last.
It's a perversely fitting form of entertainment. As a beverage dispenser it leaves something to be desired, but as a metaphor for the Dunhill Links Championship it is just about spot on. We sit here for hours, even days, on end, waiting for something to happen, and then suddenly a half-decent golf tournament breaks out. Think Waiting for Godot with a car chase at the end and you'll get the general idea.
Sadly, the car chase didn't begin yesterday. And at the point when Branden Grace took a six-shot lead, there was a distinct possibility that there wouldn't be much engine revving today either. But this tournament's final round usually provides some sort of interest, entertainment and intrigue. The very qualities, in fact, that have been in desperately short supply over the first three days.
It says everything that the most dramatic event of the tournament to date had been the intervention of the Digby dog that waddled across the 12th green at Kingsbarns on Friday, picked up Paul Casey's ball and waddled off again. This provoked a hubbub in the press tent that would scarcely have been greater had Tiger Woods sprinted across the Old Course's 18th fairway in his underpants, pursued by a posse of heavily pregnant cocktail waitresses. Desperately, we fought for information. With pages to fill, we needed detail. "Was it a Titleist?" somebody asked. "No, I think it was a spaniel," came the reply. And so, with a few sketchy facts and a spot of literary licence the story of the day took shape.
What we would have done for a cavorting canine yesterday. But instead of Digby we got Dustin, he of the clan Johnson's US branch, who acquired a certain news value by shooting a round of 67 at St Andrews and a lot more by finishing on the losing side at Medinah last weekend. Understandably, Johnson had looked pretty downcast in Chicago a week ago, but at least the experience allowed him to practise the expression he would adopt when he emerged from the St Andrews scorer's hut and found his way blocked by a huddle of equally gloomy Scottish golf hacks.
We wanted to know who he would back to be the next US Ryder Cup captain. It wasn't the most challenging question ever posed, but Johnson dithered and drawled and muttered a bit, shuffled his feet and then drawled some more. To give him his due, he covered a few bases, and when he was finished, we had a story that could be encapsulated in the headline: Next US Captain Likely To Be An American. "Anyone seen any dogs?" someone asked.
And so the long day wore on with all the febrile urgency of a stalactite taking shape. If there is any truth in Shaw's line about the English inventing cricket to give themselves some idea of eternity, then the Scots presumably dreamt up the Dunhill Links Championship in order to deepen their understanding of the same concept. Six-hour rounds are all very well for those with strong bladders and too much time on their hands, but provide a pretty gruesome experience for mere spectators at a tournament that invites along a few celebs (and many more former celebs) but which struggles to disguise its origins as a corporate vanity project for Dunhill.
But what do I know? This year's event marks the 11th anniversary of the tournament's founding – and the 11th anniversary of my confident prediction, helpfully printed for posterity, that it would only last two years. I must have been drinking too much coffee back then.