Professional golf loves silence. It must, as more effort goes into achieving it than goes into the viewing facilities.
If you have ever been to a professional event, you will have noticed a large number of people, employed (as volunteers) specifically to tell people to be quiet. They have nice sticks with 'please be quiet', or more rudely 'be quiet' on them.
They can get volunteers to do this as golf is full of people at clubs who love nothing better than telling people what to do, love a free polo shirt, and get very excited about a selfie with a big name pro, and the chance to bore people about how they went round with them all year.
The only other sport with similar levels of silence is snooker. Snooker and golf have other things in common too, such as putting balls into holes, dated dress codes, low attendances at live events, and perception that they are boring to the general public.
And why is silence so loved by golf?
The answer you will always get is 'the players need it to hit good shots'. This is standard, and accepted. It is the norm, all through golf, at every level.
At club level its called 'etiquette'.
And yet, is it true? Do players need silence to hit good shots?
The evidence from golf and other sports tells us otherwise.
If you have ever asked a high level rugby union kicker if they prefer silence or noise, they will always give you the same answer.
'I prefer a bit of noise actually, total silence is unnerving'.
In Rugby Union, the norm is that kicking is carried out in silence, apparently it is necessary or the kicker will miss.
In Rugby League, and American Football, no such conventions apply. The levels of accuracy are similar.
The best example of how professional athletes (well sporting stars) can adapt to a different noise level is darts. Darts in its first hay day, in the 1980s, was very different to the carnival beer festival atmosphere that his hugely popular on TV. Early darts had dark rooms, thick smoke, and silence for the thrower.
'They need silence to throw good darts,' they said.
And yet, today performance levels are far superior, as is the money earned by the top players.
When asked, Phil 'The Power' Taylor said: “As long as they're paying, and I’m getting paid, they can do what they want”.
In other sports, crowd noise is used as an indicator of poor performance.
Football teams cant perform if there is 'no atmosphere'. Horses apparently 'pick up on the crowd noise' and perform better.
Most importantly, in golf, there are two events where noise is encouraged, and performance levels haven’t been affected. Four years ago, firstly Bubba Watson, followed by Ian Poulter, actively encouraged the Ryder Cup crowd to make noise during their shots. Neither player topped it five yards as I recall.
Secondly, at the Phoenix Open, with the famous Stadium Hole, crowds are encouraged to make noise all day, achieving total silence for the shot. The hole ranks 143rd easiest Par-3 on tour, out of 206.
What’s more, it is loved by the players, supporters and viewers at home.
"16 is always fun," Geoff Ogilvy said.
"You just want to give them what they I've been waiting for.
"You just want to hit a decent shot. It's the funnest hole of the year when you make birdie or hit a good shot and it's the least fun hole of the year if you hit a bad shot or make bogey."
Whilst traditional golfers like many #GCW’s feel that noise is wrong, if golf is to move forward, it must be embraced and channeled rather than punished.
Selling a $200 ticket to someone who loves the game, allowing him beers from self pour units at $11 a pop, and then throwing him out for making noise is bad for the game, and at worst entrapment. What sort of message does it send out?
Instead of punishing these people, every tournament should have a stadium hole, where if people want to make noise, they can.
The Phoenix Open started small, and now sells half a million tickets over four days, at $40 a go!!!!!
If you cant work it out, that’s $20m isn gate receipts alone. Add in five beers per person at say $10 a go, that’s another $25m. Plus corporate boxes.
Plus food sales. Plus increased merchandise. Plus better TV exposure and viewing figures.
What’s not to love?
At a time when Sky give tickets away for the British Masters, you would think that a proven model that makes over $50m revenue in four days would be of interest.
Let the purists walk the course, follow their favourite golfer, enjoy their day away from those who want to have fun and make noise by doing so.
By creating a stadium hole at every event golf, the tournament would have more appeal to fans, and to the top players as they could pay more.
Also, it would give those with 'Mash Potato' Tourettes somewhere to go, more sponsors would be interested, and more importantly golf could change its image to something more positive.
What’s not to love?
Inventor of ChippingPro (plug), likes links golf in the wind. Think Chad Campbell is a very handsome man