SBD/February 15, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies
PGA Tour To Allow Cell Phones During All Tourneys At Select Areas
Published February 15, 2011
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The PGA Tour is announcing a new policy today that will allow fans to use cell phones and other mobile devices at select areas of the golf course during competition beginning at the Honda Classic on March 3-6. Fans will be asked to keep their phones on silent mode while at the golf course. The tour permitted fans to bring their phones onto the course for five test tournaments -- three last year and two this year -- and found that they generally did not create a distraction for the players. “We learned that the fans were very conscientious about keeping their phone on silent,” said PGA Tour Exec VP & COO Andy Pazder. “That really was the easiest piece of the puzzle to solve. People today understand that being in movie theaters, church or somewhere rings are frowned upon, they get that. We had a ring or two, but that was very minimal.” Phone calls can be made or received in designated areas of the course, including concession stands, which are typically placed away from play. Fans sending text messages, posting on social media sites or checking data are asked to do so away from the ropes or playing areas. The tour will not permit video recording at any time and still photographs cannot be taken during competitive rounds. “We anticipated some issues with the camera feature on the phones and that was what the test events proved,” Pazder said. “At the Farmers tournament, there was a focus on enforcement and education, but when we went to the AT&T National, we really worked on education up front and more preventative measures and that greatly minimized the need for enforcement.” Pazder said Clint Eastwood filmed an educational video that described to fans where and when to use their phones and it ran on a loop on the shuttle buses that took them to and from the golf courses. Marshals also were proactive about reminding fans that players were approaching and that it was time to put the phones away while they were hitting shots.
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FIRST TOURNAMENT APP: The AT&T National Pro-Am last weekend was the first tournament to create their own iPhone app, offering information to hospitality and ticket buyers, maps, tee times and other local content. The tour already has an app that features live scoring, video and news updates. The tour’s new media division will continue to work with tournaments to enhance the fan experience through these apps, Pazder said, while not taking away from the experience on the tour’s app. “PGATour.com and the folks in new media are taking the lead and working with tournaments to develop these apps,” Pazder said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to deliver more information and enhance the fan experience. Tournaments working on their own app can’t currently deliver the live scoring and other features, but we’re working on ways to get that integrated. Ideally, you’d prefer fans go to the tour app for scoring and the host tournament would deliver additional value for the title sponsor and communicate stories of interest that are unique to that marketplace.”