That’s the weird thing about golf. It’s such a quiet game. When the Idler was playing little league baseball his coach, a fellow named “Doubleday”, instructed him to make noise of the “Hey, batter, batter!” and “C’mon, babe!” variety. In football there is a great deal of “hut-hut” -ing not to mention grunting and snarling. In basketball they chant “AIR-ball” and in both basketball and football, many college and pro teams deploy cheerleading squads to hold up signs that simply say, “NOISE!” In golf, when the players are preparing to actually play the game, a course official will hold up a sign that says “QUIET.”
Wouldn’t it be a more challenging (not to mention interesting) game if golfers had to deal with the same sort of heckling and abuse as players in other sports? Back when the Idler was trying unsuccessfully to develop some proficiency at the game, he played with a dissolute bunch of clowns who devoted all manner of effort to the goal of strategically breaking golf’s “silence” convention. The objective was to produce the most subtly obnoxious possible sound at the top of an opponent’s backswing, the apex or the apogee. You know, right at the instant when the club stops going up and starts coming down. Cracking a brewski or some other such gaseous exhalation was a favored tactic and timing was absolutely critical. If your opponent could be made to throw his driver fifty yards or so down the fairway, this was considered a successful outing. Ah, good times.
But those days of cheap beers and Bronx cheers are gone and if we’re not going to actually play the game, we’ll have to accept it as it really is, the perfect non-prescription sedative. Not for the players, I suppose, since there’s often a lot of money at stake, but for us, the TV viewers. Now that the golf “majors” are over and football pre-season has arrived you’re going to be watching the Steelers crush the Ravens while downing several IC Lights and a couple of meatball hoagies. Thus fortified, and with the game in the bag you’ll flip over to the Greater Wilmerding Open, settle back into the La-Z-Boy and start listening to some guys with British accents go on and on about what a splendid bunker shot that was what with the backspin on the bentgrass apron and all. Gentle zephyrs will be wafting through the trees with sunlight glinting off the water hazards.Then as the contenders arrive at the putting green, the announcers lower their voices to a whisper. The golfers walk deliberately back and forth, squatting to check the line and squinting into the setting sun. At length, the silence will be interrupted with a soft murmur, “this putt will break approximately eighteen inches left to right and he’ll need to give it a firm stroke if he intends to clear that first undulation and let’s hope you set an alarm clock for the evening news because, let’s face it, Hoss, you’re not going to make it to the eighteenth tee . . .”
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