Switch on the television, tune in the radio or boot up the computer these days and what do you see and hear? Yes, that’s right; unrelenting doom, gloom and misery. And maybe a bit about the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing. But mostly doom, gloom and misery.

In fact, everything is so dismal and grisly, even the birling, twirling, grin-fest that is the aforementioned Strictly will probably lose its giggling, gasping joie de vivre and end up being won by a haunted couple performing a macabre, tortured waltz to the sombre strains of Abide With Me.

There is not much escape from the torrent of grim tidings at the moment. And, if you’re something of a golf purist, the news at the weekend that Bryson DeChambeau had carried a driver over 400 yards probably left you with the kind of growing anxiety you’d get if you found yourself standing behind Margaret Ferrier in a ScotRail ticket booth.

To boldly go? Well, the big-hitting, beefed-up Bryson is certainly exploring new golfing frontiers as the recently-crowned US Open champion gleefully posted a picture on social media of his launch monitor showing a hurtle through the air of an eye-watering 403.1 yards.

The shrieking howls of despair from those appalled at the vast distances a golf ball can reach in this day and age was akin to the screaming cacophony that would be generated if a banshee had to perform an exorcism on a roomful of sopranos.

The R&A and USGA’s Distance Insight Project, put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, has a fearsome new statistic to digest. Watching DeChambeau clatter his driver with an almighty, thunderous swipe just about leaves you needing a soothing session with an osteopath. His sheer strength is a quite devastating weapon in the armoury and one that has already reaped rewards with that maiden major win.

How physically sustainable it is remains to be seen. Look at the lovely, enduring swings of, say, a Tom Watson or a Colin Montgomerie and you can’t imagine DeChambeau gliding through senior golf can you? His back will probably be jiggered by his mid-30s.

Nevertheless, DeChambeau has set a new benchmark in brute force while losing none of the finesse and touch. It’s quite an alliance of attributes and one which has vindicated his decision to gamble with his physicality and bulk himself up. The process has required extreme effort and risk while the depth of his dedication remains remarkable.

DeChambeau may polarise opinion – his pace of play, for instance, could have the biblical figure of Job storming off the green in a furious haste – but he remains a fascinating sporting specimen.

With the delayed Masters barely three weeks away, observers are already eagerly predicting a DeChambeau demolition job of Augusta National. In this game, of course, predictions tend to be a fool’s errand. He’ll probably finish tied 18th.

One thing we can say with certainty is that the long-standing distance debate has another dollop of fuel. Some have said DeChambeau’s approach is making a mockery of golf but, then, he is only capitalising on what the modern game allows in this crash, bang, wallop age.

And therein lies the on-going issue for golf at the very top level as those in charge wrestle with a variety of horses that have already bolted.  Or, as Tiger Woods put it the other week, “the genie is out of the bag.” Funnily enough, you didn’t hear old Tiger complaining when he was blasting colossal drives back in his all-conquering pomp.

With cherished, storied courses attempting to combat the bombers by being stretched, pulled and manipulated like the loose skin of some hitherto Hollywood heart-throb desperately trying to arrest the passage of time, the coming together of the old and the modern continues to cause great consternation.

The R&A and USGA, long accused of sleeping at the wheel when it came to the topic of distance, have to be seen to be preserving the sustainability of the game while not provoking war with the equipment manufacturers and the tours that are multi-million pound operations. The booming of huge drives, after all, is viewed as terrific entertainment. Why put a constraint on that?

In the current climate, meanwhile, golf’s environmental credentials are being seriously questioned due to the need for more land, more water and more pesticides for bigger courses. That particular ‘green’ issue will certainly become more and more prevalent as the years pass.

With so many competing voices in the distance debate, there certainly won’t be a consensus any time soon, though. Talk of a limited-distance tournament ball has been doing the rounds for ages while the phrase “bifurcation” – the procedure where professionals would operate with different equipment standards to amateurs – continues to lurk in the background.

It remains a minefield and you’ll certainly never please everybody. ‘Twas ever thus, of course. Back in days of yore, when the celebrated Scottish professional Allan Robertson was making featherie balls, the emergence of the gutta percha rendered his own equipment manufacturing business obsolete. “It’s nae gowff,” Robertson grumbled as he lamented the march of progress.

It’s a tricky thing to tackle, this progress lark …