Skip to main content

Golf's smart move to end phone ban

updated 1:44 PM EDT, Mon April 23, 2012
Golfers Mark O'Meara and Tiger Woods aren't the only ones who'll be able to check their phones on the course.
Golfers Mark O'Meara and Tiger Woods aren't the only ones who'll be able to check their phones on the course.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Young tech-savvy sports fans increasingly reliant on smartphone apps
  • Spectators able to use mobiles at British Open for first time in six years after ban lifted
  • R&A bosses hope new phone rules will increase uptake of Open Championship apps
  • Decision follows U.S. PGA Tour, which lifted its phone ban last year

(CNN) -- You'd be hard-pressed to find a major sporting event these days without its own dedicated smartphone app.

No longer is it enough to simply watch the action, devoted fans are now demanding a blow-by-blow account, interactive maps and player profiles all in the palm of their hands.

For young fans especially, such apps have become the must-have accessories -- and British golfing bosses have finally caught on.

For the first time in six years, spectators will be able to use their mobile phones at the Open Championship this summer after organizers lifted a ban on Monday.

Mobiles had been barred at the golf season's third of four major tournaments -- this year to be held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes -- since 2006 after players complained about distracting ringtones.

We are offering spectators access to an enhanced range of apps for Android, iPhone and iPad that will offer live video of play and other attractions at The Open
Peter Dawson, R&A chief executive

But ruling body the R&A has now relaxed the ban for the July 15-22 event, and fans will be able to make calls in designated areas -- though photography and video recording is still banned.

And to coincide with this, the tournament now offers its own mobile experience.

"We are offering spectators access to an enhanced range of apps for Android, iPhone and iPad that will offer live video of play and other attractions at The Open and will keep them up to date with essential championship information including scoring, tee times, news and an interactive course guide," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said on the R&A website.

"There is no denying the attachment people feel to their mobile phones both in terms of gathering information and staying in touch with family and friends. We understand this and allowing their use at the championship will enrich The Open experience."

The decision follows a PGA Tour announcement in February last year that ithe U.S. circuit would finally be lifting its phone ban. After allowing mobiles at five test events, chief of operations Andy Pazder said at the time: "Allowing mobile devices on-site at Tour events was a tremendous fan enhancement, and did not affect the integrity of the competition."

However, the phone rules only apply to PGA Tour events, not the other three majors -- the Masters, U.S. Open or PGA Championship.

The R&A said it will continue to monitor the decision.

"We understand there will be concerns over this change in policy but we will be liaising with spectators at the championship to ensure calls are not taking place near play," Dawson said.

"Our spectators are very knowledgeable and understand golf, and so we are confident they will respect the players."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
It's a big dilemma: Be with your wife for the birth of your first child, or stay at work and try to earn $11 million. For Billy Horschel, it's a no-brainer.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
updated 1:06 PM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Masters champion Bubba Watson says winning the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot would bring forward his retirement from the game.
updated 7:31 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the 14th green during the third round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 15, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
updated 9:52 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
Ian Poulter kept Europe clinging on in their Ryder Cup battle with the United States in Chicago.
Ian Poulter, who has constantly haunted the U.S. in Ryder Cup golf, is back after being chosen as a wildcard by European captain Paul McGinley.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
updated 7:05 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
updated 10:24 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
updated 9:20 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
ADVERTISEMENT