Silence is Golden at 50th Buick Open

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2006 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna is used to playing over the roar of an excited crowd.
 
So when Kitna went to his first PGA TOUR event, he was amazed at the silence.
 
Its definitely a different way to concentrate, Kitna said Friday at the Buick Open.
 
At times, the loudest sound at the tournament was the hum of generators.
 
That seems to be exactly how the players want it.
 
Jim Furyk told his caddie to quiet the gallery before he teed off at the sixth hole during the second round. A couple holes earlier, Furyk stepped away from a 9-foot putt.
 
Keep that sign down, Furyk said to a marshal, referring to a QUIET sign used to hush gathered crowds.
 
Furyk later insisted neither the noise nor visual distraction affected his game.
 
Ive never really been overly bothered by that, he said. I may ask a marshal to move once in a while, but its more of a precaution.
 
Players, caddies and marshals frequently ask people to stop walking and talking when a pro is over his ball.
 
Golf is such a mental game, and you want your mind to be as quiet as possible to hit a good shot, Lee Janzen said. With all the stuff that could possibly not go right, you dont want your mind also thinking about somebody walking behind you.
 
Silence on the course is simply part of the tradition.
 
Its always been the etiquette of the game that youre supposed to be quiet when someone else is hitting, Furyk said.
 
Spectators agreed that keeping quiet isnt a big deal, but Clarkston resident Tom Selhost said when compared to other sports, the lack of noise is a bit surprising.
 
Ive always thought it was kind of interesting, though, here comes a baseball at 90 mph and theyre trying to hit it and the crowds just going insane, the 66-year-old fan said. And here is a ball sitting still and everyone has to be quiet.
 
Janzen said that constant noise'like the buzz of the crowd at a ballgame' wouldnt be a problem for golfers.
 
Unexpected noise, though, is problematic.
 
It would probably be OK if everybody just talked all the time, Janzen said. But usually most people try to be quiet and then one odd person will start talking.
 
Marshals try to keep the environment as quiet as possible, taking cell phones and cameras away from fans who sneak them onto the course.
 
About 400 cell phones and cameras were waiting for their owners early Friday afternoon at the a tent and officials expected twice as many to pile up for Sundays final round.
 
A few chants occasionally could be heard at the 17th hole, but the green, known for its rowdiness, was quieter than usual Friday.
 
Its a lot milder because Tigers not here, said marshal Rob Hudson, whos volunteered at the Buick Open for six years. When Tigers here, it just get ridiculous,
 
Tiger Woods had season-ending knee surgery earlier this week, knocking him out of the Buick Open after playing it eight times since 1997
 
Usually, people seem to respect the QUIET signs that goes up when a golfer is getting ready to hit a ball.
 
Youll get the occasional grump who doesnt care, but as a rule, theyre pretty good, Hudson said.
 
Kitna, who said it was weird to play in such a quiet environment Wednesday at the Buick Pro-Am, said the steady noise at a football game doesnt bother him like a sudden noise on the golf course could get to a professional golfer.
 
Its so quiet sometimes a little noise can affect you, he said. While with us, its so loud little things dont bother us
 
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