The world is definitely getting louder. I said LOUDER. And what happens when everything around you is getting louder? That’s right. You have to get louder as well, to the point where basic conversations end up sounding more like two angle grinders having a robust debate.

The other night, for instance, this scribe and his better half popped into one of these street-food, tapas-style eateries and were inevitably confronted by thumping background music and a waitress who attempted to explain the scene amid the din during a smiling, if somewhat strained series of pleasantries that sounded a bit like this. “Have you eaten with us before, mumble, mumble, blah, blah, maybe two or three plates, mumble, mumble, blah, share a rice, mumble, mumble.”

The whole thing would have made much more sense if she’d just poured the entire contents of the menu down my ear trumpet and let it seep into my brain.

Anyway, people clearly like noise and the noise generated by the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open has created, well, quite a bit of noise. Depending on your point of view, it’s either a wonderful week where golf bursts from its strait-jacket and reaches out to a whole new audience or it’s a complete affront to human dignity.

Hooting and hollering here, heckling there, booze being guzzled everywhere? By the end of a warm day in Arizona, the whole colosseum created around this raucous par-3 must smell like Noah’s Ark.

There’s no doubt that the event is doing something right. The total attendance for the week was a record-busting 719,179. On the Saturday alone, almost 217,000 folk tottered through the gates. It was probably easier getting all and sundry on to Noah’s floating zoo.

Personally, this correspondent couldn’t think of anything worse than being plunged into the merry midst of all this revelry, but then, that’s just a matter of taste. Go to a variety of sporting occasions these days and you’re encouraged to “make some noise” or “bring the noise” by a grinning bunch of baton-wielding enjoyment enforcement officers hell-bent on beating you into a state of fun-filled frolicking.

Worse still, you end up being surrounded by those gurgling, hark at me halfwits whose sole mission in life seems to involve boorish exhibitionism on a staggering scale. When they’re not flapping, squawking, grunting or shrieking, then they’re standing around like some slack-jawed absorption capsule, dumbly filming everything on their mobile phone so they can upload it on to the internet along with a hashtag invariably featuring the word “noise”.

When this type of palaver happens at golf, those who suggest it has no place in the game are immediately shouted down and labelled as some fusty, tut-tutting, fuddy-duddy. In a crass, fevered modern world, which seems to have no appreciation of quality or understated class, quietly watching affairs unfold with a bit of genteel appreciation is just about an alien concept.

On the flip side, of course, golf has always displayed an air of goading piety when it comes to matters of decorum and conduct. This sneering sense of superiority is hardly blemish free.

You can easily argue the case that years of sexism, exclusivity and general discrimination is way worse than some belching bloke in a novelty hat shouting profanities at the top of a player’s backswing. A club tie, blazer and decanter of claret can’t mask other forms of unacceptable behaviour, after all.

It’s clear that plenty of players enjoy the 16th hole tumult at Scottsdale. It’s a one-off and allows them to engage with those on the sidelines.

There is a fine line between jolly high jinks and withering abuse, though. A few players had complained that the behaviour last week had crossed that line and it would only take a couple of marquee names to give the event a miss next season and the discussion will change.

Apparently, the Phoenix Open gives the paying punters what they want. As for me? Well, I’ll just stick to being a crabbit fuddy-duddy . . .


ACCORDING to trumpeting enthusiasts, the latest craze in 2018 is going to be, wait for it, Rugby Golf. Dear me. Then again, after that sorry Six Nations palaver in Wales on Saturday, it can’t be any worse than the real oval ba’ game?

Gimmicks abound in this day and age and this is yet another attempt to meddle with golf under the pretence that kicking a rugby ball about on a golf course will somehow encourage folk to take up golf when it will probably just encourage them to kick a rugby ball about.

Because I still play football and golf - and I use ‘play’ loosely - I once tried Foot Golf. Yes, it was a bit of fun but it’s not fitba. And it’s certainly not golf. Leave these hybrids to the biology labs.