SBD/June 4, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Cell Phone Usage At PGA Tour Event Takes Toll On Golfers, Tourney Officials

Mickelson cited "mental fatigue" as reason for withdrawing from The Memorial
Golf HOFer Jack Nicklaus, who hosted this past weekend's PGA Tour event, said that the “preponderance of cell phone cameras that may have contributed to Phil Mickelson's withdrawal from the Memorial Tournament on Thursday is nearly impossible to police,” according to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. Harig noted Mickelson “was clearly agitated by the number of spectators using their cell phones to take photos,” which is “in violation of PGA Tour policy.” The tour began allowing cell phones at tournaments a year ago at the Honda Classic, “with the stipulation they must be placed on vibrate.” Phones can be used “in designated areas or to check email or data, but may not be used to take photos or videos, a policy that is constantly violated, leaving volunteer marshals all but helpless.” Nicklaus on Saturday said, "There is no way in the world you could have a tournament police that policy. What do you want, the Gestapo out there? It's kind of ridiculous. You've got 30,000, 40,000 people out there. How are going to go out there and do that? That's crazy, you can't do that.'' He added, "It's either guys have got to get used to it and just expect it, or the tour has to adjust their policy. We don't control that. Whatever the tour wants us to do and thinks is right, then we'll work on it” (ESPN.com, 6/2). CBSSPORTS.com’s Steve Elling wrote the tournament “cracked down on cellphone use on Friday.” But Nicklaus still “insisted that the PGA Tour needs to handle the policing, not the volunteer marshals” (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/2).

CELL PHONE FATIGUE: In N.Y., Karen Crouse wrote Mickelson “quietly seethed about the clicking cellphones," but withdrew from the event citing mental fatigue. Golfer Rickie Fowler on Friday said of the cell phone situation, “The tournament did a great job today. We had a few guys out there following us kind of managing the situation. I really didn’t hear very many today. They were on top of it, and the tour and the tournament did a great job with that.” He added, “Yesterday it was probably one of the worst I’ve seen, but obviously, at every tournament, cellphones have been around, so it wasn’t something new that just happened this week” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/2). GOLF WORLD MONDAY’s Geoff Shackelford writes with all due respect to Nicklaus, “Fan behavior improved markedly once marshals and security officials began confiscating the phones of blatant users.” But it was “a day too late” for golfer Bubba Watson. Watson Thursday said, “Ever since they made that rule that cell phones are allowed, it’s just not fun playing” (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 6/4).

WEIGHING IN: Golf Channel’s Jay Townsend said of allowing spectators to use cell phones, “It's a great rule. Welcome to the 21st Century.” Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard: “The Tour did this to try to bring people out to the tournament. … They were hoping that people would learn, ‘Look, don't take pictures when guys are swinging, go to the designated areas.’ We're two years into this experiment now. It's not going to happen. It's turned on the Tour and now it's gotten ugly." Hoggard: "Fifty phones were confiscated, that’s ridiculous. Now you’re trying to get people to the tournament. Now, you’ve alienated them. Now they're mad because you took their phone!” Townsend said of Watson complaining about the cell phones, “Bubba, you're making millions, man. What do you mean it's not fun playing? Come on. Get over it. If you look at the practice tee and you're on the practice tee all the time talking to guys. … Unfortunately for guys like Bubba, the marquee players that are playing in front of the largest galleries, it’s more of a problem” (“Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 6/2).
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