Slow News Day For Vousden

Thought of the Day
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect

The Mad Scientist is even Crazier than we Thought
In the two years and change that Bryson Dechambeau has been a member of the PGA tour he has probably created more headlines than any of his peers, with the exception of Tiger Woods. Much of this is to do with his excellent play; five wins in America and one in Europe since July 2017 is more than impressive. But the way in which he plays, and the language he chooses to express himself, earned him a lot of attention and the nickname of the mad scientist or the professor

He has also been described as flaky, weird, nuts, off-the-wall, unconventional, screwball and madcap and if you read through some of his quotes, it’s not hard to see why. For example, when asked why he putted sometimes with the flagstick in the hole and at other times with it out, he said it depended on the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.

All of which is fine and dandy because golf needs characters and with the exception of a few weirdos like Bryson, pro golfers are, on the whole, a dull bunch of bastards.

There’s a difference, however, between original, progressive or just plain different thinking and stupidity, and with Bryson’s recent comments on the slow-play furore that has blown up around him, he’s beginning to look at best inconsistent and at worst stupid. In case you have been holidaying in North Korea and missed the story, just over a week ago at the Northern Trust Open, he took two minutes and sixteen seconds over an eight-foot putt, to the obvious frustration of playing partners Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood.

If most of your golf is consumed via television, you get a distorted view because, understandably, the producer constantly switches to where the action is. But if you followed a live event at the tournament you might, if you’re a man, be advised to take a battery powered shaver otherwise you’d have quite a beard by the time it takes a threeball to play 18 holes.

Bryson’s tardiness became a cause celebre, highlighting yet again the issue of slow play. Ever since the first professional golfers crept from their bothy’s in Scotland to play the game at a different level from the rest of us, we have been gobsmacked by two things in particular – the distance they hit the ball, and the interminable amount of time it takes them to do it. In both instances it is becoming ridiculous.

Bryson’s first reaction when he heard the criticism of his sluggishness was to defend himself with frankly ludicrous assertion that ‘It’s really kind of unfortunate the way it’s perceived because there’s a lot of other guys that take a lot of time.’ The defence of ‘I’m not the only one doing it,’ has never been effective or, frankly, anything other than stupid. He added that he saved time by walking quickly between shots but, because he’s a long hitter, he cannot go to his ball and work out a yardage because he would be standing ahead of his fellow competitors.

This is also what his fellow Americans would probably call bullshit. If he walks that quickly (or even if he doesn’t), he and caddy can still get to the ball, assess the yardage and then stand aside.

But to his credit, after a few days’ reflection (and possibly a bit of counsel from wiser heads), Mr DeChambeau was much more conciliatory and said, in part: ‘Slow play affects the quality of the game for both players and our fans and I’ve always had the utmost respect for my playing partners, including JT [Justin Thomas] and Tommy [Fleetwood]. I’m constantly trying to improve and I will do my very best to improve my pace. Golf is my passion and livelihood. It’s my responsibility to help improve the game to be more enjoyable for all. Pace of play has been an issue for golf at all levels for a long time, and I’m committed to being a part of the solution, not the problem.’

Excellent news then. Except… A few days later still a video clip was posted on Twitter in which he pretty much said that the slow play row was because of ‘haters’ who had it in for him, and that he was pretty much going to carry on as before. He demonstrates more flipflops than a souvenir shop on Brighton beach. He was, and is, right to say that he’s by no means the only turtle out there. And by focusing on one man we give the tour enough wriggle room to avoid making any significant changes – such as docking the slowcoaches strokes.

We should never forget that the tour exists for and to serve the players, who control what it does, which is why Dustin Johnson can take a six-month sabbatical, or be suspended for half a year for social drug use, depending on who you talk to, and we’re never given a definitive explanation for his absence. It’s also why details of tour disciplinary hearings are not made public. In terms of actually doing something to speed the game up, various world tours (although the PGA and LPGA are the worst offenders) have proven themselves to be more impotent than a bunch of eunuchs at a harem.

And although the US tour is wringing its hands like Uriah Heap and saying something must be done and has promised a review of its slow play policy, don’t hold your breath; we have been here before.

Quote of the Week
He [Bryson] must have failed to note the fact that after two minutes the earth’s turned on its axis and thus had an effect on the gravitational pull on the slope of the putt.
Christina Kim

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