• Alistair Tait

The 12 golfers of Christmas – The Scientist

Updated: Dec 24, 2020


Welcome to my Christmas series highlighting characterisations of golfers I’ve played with over the years. A wide variety of people with a vast array of personalities enjoy this game. I’ve distilled them down into 12 types to entertain you over the 12 days of Christmas.


I obviously pre-wrote these so I didn’t have to write my daily blog over the holidays. No flies on me. In other words, I’m currently incommunicado enjoying time with my family, eating and drinking too much and taking Izzy for long walks. So, in true BBC style, please do not respond to these blogs; they’ve been pre-recorded.


1. The Scientist


Bryson DeChambeau garnered a lot of headlines this year for obvious reasons. Arguably no one since Homer Kelly has approached the game so scientifically. DeChambeau probably can’t stand on the first tee unless he knows the air density for the day. He’s probably taken True Gravity readings, too.


Every golf club has at least one scientist. They’re the ones who’ll make your eyes glaze over within 30 seconds of opening their mouths. They're the ones who make you take a different route from the parking lot to the first tee. The last thing you want is for the club scientist to collar you in the parking lot. You'll be in danger of missing your tee time.


The scientists can tell you the exact weight of their shafts down to the exact milligram. They can tell you the kick point on the shaft; indeed, they can probably point to the exact spot on the shaft where the kick point actually is. The may even have marked the spot with a sharpie.


The scientists will probably be able to tell you the components in that £450 shaft in their driver. They’ll be able to give you a running commentary on why the components in their particular shaft are so much better than those in other shafts. Too bad they can’t get that £450 shaft to square the clubface at impact.


They can talk spin rates, launch angles, swing speeds, ball speeds, smash factors, and why a golf ball travels farther on June 21st than it does on December 21st.


As for golf balls, they’ve got you covered. They can tell you which balls spin better, which ones fly longer and can tell you the exact makeup of the ball’s core down to where the core components originate.


These people are wannabe Steve Ottos. He’s the R&A chief technology officer at the multi-million-pound testing facility at Kingsbarns. I haven’t met anyone more knowledgeable on golf equipment technology. The club scientists would keep Otto occupied for hours on end. Poor Steve.


The scientists scour the internet for other scientists, entering chat rooms to discuss the minutiae of club and ball manufacturing because they can’t find fellow members to talk to about this stuff. They probably have a signed copy of the Search for the Perfect Golf Club. They might even have a copy of Kelly’s tome The Golfing Machine. Worse, they probably understand what he’s talking about! Unlike the rest of us.


Golf professionals have a love/hate relationship with the scientists. On the one hand, they love the fact they’re always willing to part with cash to buy the latest bit of kit. On the other, they just can’t match the scientists’ knowledge. Plus, they have a job getting them out of their shops once they start droning on.


Golf equipment manufacturers also love the scientists, since they’re most likely to lap up all that mumbo jumbo they send out that the rest of us just can’t comprehend.


I have the same reaction to the golf scientists as I do to a guy I met years ago at a party who was also called Alistair. He told me there were 27 spellings of Alistair. I told him I’d love to hear them but I had to go to the toilet. I spent the rest of the evening avoiding him like the plague in case he rhymed off all 27 spellings.


#JustSaying: “Do not be tempted to invest in a sample of each golfing invention as soon as it makes an appearance. If you do, you will only complicate and spoil your game – and encumber your locker with much useless rubbish.” Harry Vardon

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