ARDMORE - Golf is a game that is renowned for its silence. But the noises at this year's U.S. Open couldn't be louder.
There are the roars of approval from the crowd when putts are holed and great shots are played. There are the audible moans from the gallery when a golfer does something most spectators are used to seeing from their own golf games. There are even the polite requests from the course marshals for "quiet, please."
But this week at Merion, one sound quite literally drowns out all the others - squish.
Despite a sunny day that saw playing conditions in good shape, the same could not be said for the crosswalks spectators (and those of us in the media who aren't fortunate enough to have been given "inside the ropes" access) use to navigate their way around the course.
If you've been watching the tournament on TV, no doubt you've head the commentators stress over the wetness of the golf course. The course - at least where the players are supposed to hit the ball - is fine. Lewistown native Arron McCurdy, the superintendent here at Merion can tell you that. He even went so far as to dare Mother Nature by saying the course could handle some more rain and be just fine.
I'm sure it could, Arron, but if it's OK with you, I'll just take your word for it.
The walkways are wet. Very wet.
That means the walkways are muddy. Very muddy.
Trust me when I tell you that TV does not do it justice. Every time one of the crosswalks opens to spectator traffic, all you can here is the squish, splash, squish, splash of hundreds of shoes trekking across the bog followed by the complaining that accompanies it.
The sloppy state of the high-traffic areas has had a noticeable effect on the gallery in more ways than just inconvenience, too.
Some of the things players wear on the Tour can turn your head. But there were also plenty of interesting looks for many in the crowd, who opted for jackets, shorts and knee-high rubber boots to begin Day 2 at Merion.
As the cooler temperatures gave way to the warmth of the afternoon, the jackets went away, but the boots were here to stay because so was the mud.
I'm generally an optimistic kind of person, so I leave you with something that made me laugh on Thursday afternoon after the rain had pelted the area again.
One of the marshals, who was stationed at the crosswalk bisecting the 15th fairway, reminded those who were unhappy about the mud and the muck collecting on everything they were wearing below their knees that they were getting the chance to "take a piece of Merion home with you."
Nothing like a bit of dry humor on an otherwise wet day at the U.S. Open.
Sentinel city editor Brian Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.