Strange But True: Quiet on the Course!

Golfers are among the most high-strung and skittish of all athletes. The slightest noise from the gallery while they are preparing to swing can cause them to lose concentration. Many a tournament has been lost because of a stray sound from the spectators.

In 1960 the U.S. Open was played at Cherry Hills Country Club near Denver, Colorado. Near the end of the third round the leader was Mike Souchak. He was four strokes ahead of the field. He teed up on the eighteenth hole, confident he would get at least a par and maintain his advantage.

Souchak raised his driver and prepared to send one out of sight. Just as he reached the top of his backswing, the silence was broken by a camera clicking loudly. Souchak was startled. Instead of a smooth swing, he pushed the drive out of bounds. He lost two strokes of his lead.

Souchak might have lost the tournament anyway. On the final round, played after lunch, he carded a 75. Arnold Palmer shot a 65 to win.

But it wasn’t an alibi when Souchak explained what had happened. His fellow golfers understood. Souchak said, “All afternoon I kept thinking about that camera clicking, about the two strokes I lost and what they could mean. I just couldn’t concentrate anymore.”

From The Giant Book of More Strange But True Sports Stories by Howard Liss. Illustrations by Joe Mathieu.

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  1. man…..ive got ADD and im less distractable than golfers
    how do these people hold down jobs that pay enough for a golf course membership?
    coz that shit aint cheap

  2. Always boggled my mind that adults golfing have a hissy fit over crowd noises but 16 yr old gymnasts are expected to back flip on a 4 inch wide balance beam while all sorts of noise is happening around them. 

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