What has it turned us in to? As far as this scribe can see, the vast majority of us are now self-absorbed troglodytes. If we're not chained to the computer up in the garret, boring each other to tears with internet status updates covering every cough, wheeze and snort of our mundane existences, we're anchored in front of the TV heaping scorn upon musical wannabes on 50in, LCD, pin-sharp, HD Ready hermit-vision.
In this Royal & Ancient game, the number of cameras, replays and slo-mo functions available at the press of a button provides a veritable orgy of technical titillation for the armchair anoraks. And they were at their most fastidious again at the weekend.
Over in India, Scottish golf's sprightly start to the new year – there had been a top-10 finish by at least one home hopeful in all six events on the tour so far – came shuddering to a halt when Peter Whiteford, one shot off the lead with 18 holes to play, was disqualified from the Avantha Masters following a ball-moving incident which occurred at the end of his third round.
As he went to play a little dink on to the final green of round three, Whiteford felt his ball may have moved but, with no-one in the vicinity able to clarify it, he played on. Having signed his card, the viewers burst into action with emails to the European Tour saying that the Fifer's ball had, in fact, moved. The officials reviewed the footage and confirmed the occurrence, leaving them with no option but to disqualify Whiteford. Of course, the Scot could have avoided that sentence if he'd just contacted the rules team before scribbling his signature on the card and had the incident reviewed. In that sense, there was a naivete on his part. If in doubt, get it checked out, as they say.
Whiteford would have incurred a one-shot penalty but he would still have been in the title hunt. As it turned out, the hopes of a maiden crown evaporated in a frame and the couch crusaders were probably left beaming smugly from ear to ear. There is nothing worse than golf fans assuming the moral high ground, what with all their goading piety and pompous declarations of protecting the integrity of the game.
You just wonder how many of these self-appointed custodians of golf's time-honoured values are as scrupulous when thrashing away in the monthly medal? Imagine what would happen if the average three-ball down the club was filmed in HD and broadcast into millions of living rooms. There would be retrospective disqualifications in gay abandon. To suggest Whiteford was trying to gain some sort of advantage is simply laughable and the punishment for such a minor infringement that is almost unseen to the naked eye is harsh.
Of course, we've been here before. There was considerable gnashing of teeth last year when both Camilo Villegas and Padraig Harrington were disqualified for inadvertent violations that only came to light when the viewing public got in touch with tournament headquarters. Graeme McDowell, the former US Open champion, suggested at the time that "some people have got too much time on their hands".
Mercifully, the golfing powers took the sensible step to ensure the rules "remain fair and relevant" in these TV-dominated times and revised Decision 33-7/4.5 which addresses the situation where a player is not aware he or she had breached a rule because of facts that he or she did not know.
The ability to rake over every microscopic detail in golf has never been easier under the unflinching gaze of the television camera but let us hope that we will be spared a slow-motion dissection of Keegan Bradley apparently spitting ahead of every shot during Sunday's Northern Trust Open.
Given the widespread chicanery in other sports, we can at least consider ourselves fortunate to be involved in a game that prides itself, quite rightly, on its honourable nature. The self-satisfied sofa police should perhaps remember that.
AND ANOTHER THING
It may be a new year but it seems it's the same old Tseng. After plundering a remarkable 12 titles during 2011, Tseng Yani, the undisputed global power in all of golf, got 2012 up and running with a successful defence of her LPGA Thailand title at the weekend.
Her rivals on the women's circuit must already be wondering what they can do to stop this seemingly unstoppable force. And Tseng may perhaps be wondering how she lives up to the extraordinary achievements of last season.
The 23-year-old has raised the bar to new levels and the expectations will be through the roof. If she wins 11 titles this year, some hard-nosed cynics will probably suggest that she's on the wane.
"If you're a jockey out in front in a horse race, you're not going to win looking behind you," said her coach, Gary Gilchrist.
Having made her mark this season with her latest win, you already feel that 2012 will be another momentous year for Tseng.