Skip to content

Slow is good. Boring is better.

July 24, 2023

Brian Harman, who has just won the Open Golf Championship, is the most prepossessing winner in a long time. Neatly dressed and short of stature, he looks like a banker or an insurance agent. He walks with a slight waddle. When he plays golf, he is mainly expressionless, though he allows himself a half-smile when he sinks a forty foot putt. On this occasion he played a conservative game, taking few risks. Just the kind of game with which to conquer the wind-swept, rain-soaked Royal Liverpool golf course, formerly known as Hoylake.

If you like your golfers to be adventurous risk-takers, like the late Seve Ballasteros or Rory McIlroy, you would probably think Harman is the ultimate in boring. The kind of dead-pan US professional who goes from tee to green seemingly unaware of the thousands of fans who, in the case of the Royal Liverpool event, are rooting for him to lose. If not Rory, those fans wanted the combustible Jon Rahm to win, or local hero Tommy Fleetwood, the man with the mullet and a smile that breaks out like sunshine across the face of a person who usually looks as though he’s undergoing an extreme form of torture.

When I play golf, I’m definitely on the wild end of the spectrum, except that my risks rarely come off. That’s because I’m hoping that my incompetence will occasionally give way to a ridiculously lucky shot that convinces me (though probably nobody else) that I have an innate talent just waiting to reveal itself. So I slash and crash – and usually burn.

Which is very much in keeping with the crash-bang-wallop style of modern sport, wherein if you can’t capture a moment in a two-minute video clip, it’s not worth capturing. A golfer as dull as ditch-water plotting their way around the course isn’t worthy of our attention. Likewise a cricket team scoring at two runs an over, or a soccer player grafting away in midfield to create the explosive goals that we all love to watch.

Come to think of it, we have little tolerance for slow and boring in wider circles of life. We will always watch Boris Johnson in preference to Keir Starmer, even if it’s only to pour abuse on the former. Much the same with Trump and Biden. We expect Ukraine to run a blitzkrieg counter-offensive through the Russian minefields. We want to see exploding tanks, wildfires, distraught holidaymakers on beaches, celebrity meltdowns and murder-suicides.

We want to be angry, joyous, grief-stricken, afraid and delirious. Why? Because that’s how technology, news outlets and the social media condition us to feel. We’ve become adrenaline junkies.

Yesterday was an interesting day of sport in England. Anticlimactic, as the England cricket team was denied the chance to hammer the Australians thanks to the same rain that poured down all day on Hoylake. Instead, I contented myself with watching an introverted American from Georgia plod his way to victory over his fiery and furious rivals.

And, in a strange kind of way, I felt comforted. Because for most of us, life is slow. It unfolds rather than explodes. That an American should remind us of that is doubly comforting. If you believe the media, his country is more explosive than most. Yet his avowed intent is to go home with his trophy and mow the lawn.

Somehow, we need to find a way to lower our stress hormones. We’re angry about the past, afraid of the present and the only visions of the future on offer are dystopian. Perhaps we need to take a deep breath, slow down and allow ourselves to find some positive thoughts about the life that’s ahead of us, whatever evidence to the contrary is presenting itself. And perhaps we could all do with a bit more horizontal time, because sleep is the great healer.

Speaking only for myself, I can think of no better way of nodding off than by watching re-runs of Brian Harman winning the British Open. For which I thank him and wish him a quiet, unspectacular but successful future.

And if we’re a Rory McIlroy fan looking for a silver lining, perhaps we should celebrate with the son of a friend of mine, who won a large sum of money by betting on Rory’s exact scores over the four days of the tournament. Though I hate to think of the amount of cortisol flowing through the guy’s veins when Rory sunk his birdie putt on the final hole.

From → Media, Politics, Social, Sport, UK, USA

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: