I think I'm getting old. Everyone wants to be, I know, but no one actually wants to be. It's a difficult story. I mean getting old, but here I'm getting at something else: I'm becoming increasingly sensitive as I accumulate years of life. And that mainly to noises of many kinds, which are generally not agreeable to me.
Now we live in a noisy world. And we are used to it. Without any noise at all, it is difficult for us to bear. Anyone who, like me, has spent a vacation with his or her spouse in a deserted vacation resort far from the action knows what I mean. Especially at night, in the dark, it can be unpleasant to know that you are the only human being or couple within a radius of several kilometers.
If you don't hear a conversation, soft music from your neighbors, or a passing car - for hours on end - you feel strange, insecure, and startled by any sound that is probably - hopefully - made by some animal (and not a bad guy who wants to do you harm, please). If you're equipped with a little imagination on top of that, those can be restless nights.
Even more uncomfortable or strange is being in a completely anechoic room, such as a recording studio with sound-absorbing covered walls. You may be familiar with those foam boards with the big nubs that really swallow every sound. In such a room, one can quickly become uncomfortable, downright claustrophobic, because one is used to the environment not only audibly carrying sound, but also reflecting it. And we perceive this echo continuously, even if we are not aware of it.
So it looks like I'm entering a difficult stage of life. I don't like it dead quiet or anechoic, but I don't like too much noise either. But unfortunately, the industry seems to have something against me. And I take that personally. My car rings when the ignition key is in while the driver's door is open. It warns with regular ping sounds if I drive without having fastened my seatbelt, likewise it pings if the outside temperature has dropped to a maximum of 4 degrees.
Our microwave informs me tunelessly but noisily when it has done its job of heating food. Our refrigerator informs me with an alarm tone when I have just not fulfilled my mission and have not closed the door properly again after taking out a cool food that needs to be cooled.
When the battery level is low, our house phone annoys me with a cacophonous sequence of tones similar to the ringtone, so that I have often wanted to accept a non-existent call instead of - as requested and loudly reminded - putting the part on its charging station. My mobile phone, on the other hand, buzzes like a wasp that has just chosen my ear as its landing pad.
Outside, a crane is whirring because the neighbors are having their house roof renovated, a little further away the streetcar is grinding through its track, a driver is admonishing another road user by pressing the horn. And a cyclist rings the bell because he is being disregarded by a pedestrian.
Sounds, noise, music (the latter often comparable to noise according to my private definition, as I am not able to share the taste of many of my fellow human beings) - there is no escaping all this. And in many cases I say to it: "unfortunately not".
But there is one place where sounds seem like heavenly sounds to me, build me up, disenchant and enrapture me. You probably already guessed that I'm talking about the golf course. In the wild on the round I like the rustling of escaping rabbits in the bushes, the loud flapping of geese wings (yes, they are in droves on my favorite course). Also their cries of warning when I, following the ball, have the impudence to come too close to them, these warning cries are also soothing to me.
But my favorite sound is a loud and metallic echoing "ping" that follows a short "sssst". It's the sound you hear when a golfer has just teed off and, after a powerful downswing, has caught the ball perfectly with the sweet spot of the club head, that is, the central and best point on the clubface. Admittedly, I don't hear that too often with my own driver shots. But I'm not envious when others produce this sound and thereby communicate acoustically that this particular drive was a successful one. For me, it's more like music.
That's why I like to stand on a well-filled driving range and pause with my own practice strokes, just to listen to the tee-off sounds of the other golfers. Wonderful and totally relaxing at the same time.
As with the driver, you can also hear the successful shot with the other clubs - whether woods or irons. And also the not so successful. "Ping", "Plopp", "Blubb", "Klong" - with a little practice, and that comes automatically in the course of a golfer's life, you can distinguish: Good shot or failed attempt, ball hit or topped, caught with the club head, etc. Often - especially on the range - the golfers themselves help you with the acoustic assessment. And this is especially true if the shot is unsuccessful. Then they sometimes scold you like the famous sparrow.
By the way, I am one of those people who rarely become abusive. When I'm with other people, I can control myself and keep my cool. The only exception is when I'm behind the wheel of my car. Then I can get quite loud, call other road users "brainless idiots" and also use worse terms, which I would never repeat here. Often I have had to hear from various fellow drivers because of this: "Take it easy. It wasn't that bad. Calm down." But somehow it always gets me.
Perhaps I, who only very rarely listen to music in the car, but all the more often to audio books, should reconsider the acoustic background of my journeys. According to the findings in this text, one thing could actually help me keep calm on the road: An audio recording from our driving range.
Maybe I'll just run the recorder during my next practice session. If the "ping" and "plop" on the drive home helps keep my blood pressure within healthy limits, that would actually be one more reason for me to stay true to the game of golf, and also an important argument for significantly lengthening the practice sessions before the round begins, which in turn should benefit success on the round. It would depend on the attempt.
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