Brandel Chamblee -Controversial Commentator Pontificates, Doesn’t “Discuss”
As I follow the stream of commentary and analysis of the golf world through the years, I find myself in a dilemma when it comes to former pro Brandel Chamblee, who inserts his opinions on absolutely anything and everything that happens in the world of elite golf.
Brandel Eugene Chamblee, a University of Texas graduate in Speech Communications, certainly shows that he picked the right major. He reminds us that he was never on the debate team, because he grew up on one, in a family with several “opinionated” children, all intent on getting their point of view on the table.
Chamblee has been described, in his role as a commentator, as exceptionally “intellectual and well-rehearsed.” However, well-rehearsed doesn’t necessarily mean right. The world’s greatest villains were well-rehearsed. As for “intellectual,” the term often implies a person who forms credible and conversation-worthy conclusions based on having listened to and considered all the alternatives.
Chamblee, however, does not listen, and it has created in me a palpable disappointment whenever he’s right, at least in my opinion (something he never says). Everyone knows someone like this – no matter what you throw out in conversation, it is met with a verdict, so to continue the conversation isn’t possible. With these people, nothing is ever just what it is – it requires a verdict, no matter how small or mundane. Those of any political persuasion can find their hero in this vein on radio and TV. They’re just right, and there’s no “discussion” involved. Chamblee, in fact, typifies the general death of discussion in the modern age.
Chamblee was a pretty decent professional golfer himself, turning pro in 1985, and amassing a little over four million during his playing years, and winning once on the tour. He lost his card in 2003, and has forged a high-profile analyst’s career on numerous TV venues. He is often read in interview on the major golf magazines.
In the past ten years, we’ve all talked about a lot of things that have nothing to do with the professionals’ game. Tiger has aroused a lot of golf gossip, with several supporting players keeping pace. Chamblee decries the fact that this has happened, and yet not only joins the fray, but often leads it. He has spoken endlessly of Tiger’s cheating scandal, which Chamblee helped to create in terms of media. He has spoken of his colleagues in the booth, as if he is their senior and mentor, and somewhere in his desk at the Golf Channel, he stores a crystal ball with which he prophesies the future perfectly, in his own mind.
When it’s golf, purely golf, Chamblee can be interesting to listen to, and when he sticks to the subject of the game, I don’t get that gag reflex that comes around people who have received the tablets from Sinai, and frankly, know everything. Tiger, he believes, ruined the perfect swing for winning majors by transforming from a high-ball hitter to a low shot trajectory. OK, that’s golf talk, and I could go through an entire article or interview on that subject – that’s interesting. But the self-righteous garbage I usually must wade through to reach a gem of a subject such as that one is just too much, and I usually give up, wishing that Chamblee were just wrong, and that someone with a superior knowledge would find a way to shut him up.
“Intellectual” embodies the ability to analyze “thoughtfully,” and introduce ideas worthy of discussion. Trumpeting a verdict as a steel edifice on any subject makes the intellectual component suspect, and boy, am I ever suspicious when Chamblee gets off onto non-golf topics. There is a turning point at which self-righteous knowledge backfires, and circles back to ignorance, just by the merits of its intractability. I almost always welcome some “analysis” on my own golf, and appreciate it in the professional booth, but I wouldn’t pay Chamblee a dime for anything else.