Or, the game is all tied up, there are two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a one-run game with the closer on the mound and a 3-2 count to the batter. Hush up now!!
And then there’s the free throw in the final seconds to clinch the victory. No talking, people! This is big! The player is making $10 million this year and he has to concentrate.
Any usher who dared hold up a “quiet, please” sign during the moments above would justifiably be laughed out of the stadium/ballpark/arena. Yet we golf fans let the caddies and marshals order us around as if our enthusiasm violated some rule. And we excuse an out-of-bounds shot by an athlete as great as Tiger Woods because someone made it impossible for him to hit the ball straight simply by screaming during his backswing.
Well, actually, even without specific rules, the pro tours do try to enforce quiet among their paying fans on the golf course; the PGA Tour surely would have escorted out the screaming woman had she not been screaming for help for a spectator who passed out. (Comforting to know if we’re dying on the golf course, someone might yell, even during Tiger’s backswing.) Most tickets come with some sort of disclaimer that prescribes compliant behavior among fans, requiring them to obey instructions from officials — including a “quiet, please” from a player’s caddie or volunteer marshal.
But, checking my new copy of the Rules of Golf, I’m not seeing any clear prohibitions against talking, yelling, rattling my change or dragging my nails across chalkboards while my opponent attempts to beat me on the 18th hole with a 6-foot putt. Rule 33-7 does offer my club the option to discipline me if I regularly engage in unruly behavior, but it doesn’t go into detail.
So, really, all that silence is just part of golf tradition and is maybe due for an overhaul. Indeed, I think it would be darned fun and darned appropriate to hear a little bit of noise during Tiger’s backswing every time.
What’s with the “shhh” in golf? Let the ticket buyers do some hooting and hollering, and let the putts fall where they will. I’m guessing that once the well-paid athletes get used to the noise, they won’t even hear it. Even better, maybe the same will be true for us amateur hackers who back off a putt every time a lawn mower starts.