Let’s face it, golf can be slow. So slow, in fact, that if you dreamily gazed at the tranquil oil painting of Water Lilies by Monet you’d probably think it was more action-packed than anything happening out on the course.

I’m coming to the conclusion that the best way to watch golf on the television is simply not to watch it. You’re actually be better off just lolling there on the couch in a slumbering, snorting daze and allowing the whole thing to seep into your body like some prolonged process of osmosis.

There are times, for instance, when so little appears to be happening amid remorseless periods of pondering, plootering, pacing and pointing that you’re sorely tempted to get up from your seat and give the side of the telly a good old-fashioned thump in the hope the hefty dunt will get things moving along again.

Like a pesky stone in your shoe, the problem of slow play in this Royal & Ancient game will not go away.

Yes, you can shake and shoogle that aforementioned metaphorical stone into a little crevice of your footwear and the annoyance will disappear for a spell but pretty soon the nuisance will be back again, and more irritating than ever.

And so it is with slow play. Regular eruptions of indignation spew forth, there’s fist-shaking here and spluttering harrumphing there, before it calms down for a week or so and then the whole thing bubbles up again and we’re back to where we started. We’re all just going round in very slow circles.


The weekend’s stooshie caused by Bryson DeChambeau, above, brought the whole sorry palaver back into the limelight again.

His creeping pace of play at the Northern Trust Open led to a torrent of condemnation from many of his fellow professionals on social media while there was even something of a confrontation between DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka on the practice putting green as temperatures began to rise.

DeChambeau’s odd-ball approach to golf, which PR folk have pounced on to suggest he understands the game on a deep and meaningful level that others cannot, tends to polarise opinion as he delves into the wacky world of formulas, golfing theory, biomechanics and balls soaked and spun in Epsom salts.

His myriad quirks, foibles, complexities and eccentricities have been well-documented in recent years and the physics graduate has made a big play of his so-called fondness of the appliance of science in a game that is far from an exact science.

“It’s to do with anatomical limits of your body and how you can best utilise them for your proprioception,” he once said to a dazed gaggle of reporters after a round at a tournament.

Funnily enough, that’s what auld Norrie said when he was ordering a pint of heavy and a poke of pork scratchings after a 98 at the Hollandbush Saturday medal.

Footage of DeChambeau taking an eternity to mull over a putt at the weekend was widely circulated on various platforms. Another clip of him captured the Ryder Cup player laboriously pacing out a fairly routine pitch to the green which had all the brisk, forward impetus of Grandpa Broon hirpling to the boolin’ club as his bunions gave him jip.

In this age of instant, damning judgment, the court of public and professional opinion had a field day. With much more footage readily available these days, there are less places to hide for the snails and plodders.

DeChambeau himself mounted a robust and whining defence of his actions which, at times, came across as an exercise in patronising superiority and denial.

He is by no means the only offender in a selfish game riddled with notorious slow coaches, so you can understand his annoyance at being singled out, but the level of high-profile umbrage his actions caused has, in many ways, taken the debate to a new level.

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But will anything be done? Goodness knows. Folk have been asking for dawdling players to be penalised shots for years but the golfing world just muddles on as before and ends up having the same “we need to do something” discussion before it all reverts back to a case of nothing continues to happen.

For those who enjoy the absurdities of golf, there was an incident earlier in the season which may bring a wry smile to the face as you wait on the tee as the fourball in front of you copy the tour pros with exhausting pre-shot routines that look a bit like the elaborate courting rituals of the frigatebird.

During the third round of the Latin American Amateur Championship, an event which gets the eventual winner an invitation to the Masters, the final group was put on the clock.

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One of the players, Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico, who would go on to lift the title, didn’t want to risk a penalty so he basically put the foot down and left his playing partners wheezing along in his wake.

After putting out on the 12th green, Ortiz (pictured left) thundered off to the 13th tee and clattered his drive away as the other startled pair were still finishing back on 12. He was waiting down the fairway by the time they took to the next tee.

When they hit their drives off the 13th, Ortiz proceeded to play his second shot and walked to the green as they ambled to their respective balls to size up their approaches.

It was at this point an R&A official had to intervene and tell Ortiz that he was playing too fast.

It’s a funny old game, eh? But then again, the issue of pace of play, and its crippling, wider effects and impacts on golf at various levels, remains deadly serious.