Friday, June 11, 2010

The Deep Concentration of Golf

Turn off your smart phone, fella, and throw a muffler over your leather lungs. You're at a golf tournament, after all.

The U.S. Open starts in earnest on Thursday, prefaced by all the excitement of practice rounds starting Monday.

The pages of The Herald will be ablaze with every turn of the Open screw at Pebble Beach during the coming week, and for that I make no apology. The U.S. Open is huge, one of the top events in the sports world. The Open oozes with significance and all the greats and the potential legends of the game will be here, grasping their putters and monitoring wind conditions. And it only comes to Pebble Beach every 10 years.

ESPN will be here. NBC is going prime time on the East Coast. Corporate tents line the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Story lines abound.

This is an exciting time on the Monterey Peninsula. But you'd never really know it from the deportment of golf fans, who are required to watch in stony silence, as if they were listening to a Presbyterian sermon or tiptoeing their way across the public library.

As the Open begins, true sports fans will also be engrossed in the World Cup in South Africa and, perhaps, the seventh game of the NBA championship finals. Fans at these events go bonkers, the noise level in the arenas is deafening and the magnitude of enthusiasm is off the charts.

But at least the athletes in those arenas manage to compete at a high level despite the distractions of their pesky fans.

Certainly it takes intense concentration to hit a contorted three-pointer with a hand in your face when your field of vision is awash with the motion of a thousand Thunder Stix. And I might never understand how a midfielder can ever think to find an open attacker against the cacophony produced by 50,000 vuvuzelas.

So why can't a professional golfer manage to drop a five-foot putt if someone in the gallery lets loose with an ill-timed sneeze?

Don't get me wrong. I fully appreciate the challenge of golf and I marvel at the abilities of the professional stick-swinger. But I guess I'll have to repress all that enthusiasm this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment