AUGUSTA, Ga. — If you are the type who likes to text or talk on the phone while at a golf tournament, or if you just can’t resist shouting “You the man!” or “Baba Booey!” the second a ball is struck, then the Masters is not for you, and never will be.
Fred Ridley said during the chairman’s annual address and news conference Wednesday that he will not rescind the Masters’ ban on cellphones — which are allowed at just about every other tournament — and does not foresee his successors doing it, either. He views it as part of a different level of comportment at Augusta.
“There’s something about Augusta National when someone walks through the gates, they know that it’s a place of respect, of beauty and honoring traditions and values of the game,” he said. “So, it’s something I don’t think, and I certainly hope, never changes.”
Players see Augusta as a welcome haven. Rory McIlroy, who has spoken out recently about fan behavior at PGA Tour events, on Tuesday praised the no-cellphone rule at the Masters, saying, “Wonderful, isn’t it?”
McIlroy told of playing a practice round Monday and telling his caddie, “How good is it that people aren’t looking at their phones?” Then he added, “Yes, there are people with cameras, but they don’t constantly have their face in the device. It’s refreshing.”
Tiger Woods agreed, saying, “We don’t mind you taking pictures. We don’t mind you videoing it while we’re playing. Just please put it on silent. This event is so different, so unique. It’s pure golf. Here, it’s just us playing. You see some of the greatest golf you’ve ever seen. I think that [behavior] is one of the reasons why.”
Other events, which do not have a built-in automatic audience encourage exuberance and interaction. Golf people do acknowledge the value of attracting new, younger fans that way. It is safe to assume the atmosphere will be different from Augusta’s at the season’s next major, the PGA Championship next month at Bethpage Black.
Ace for Women's Amateur
Ridley was beyond pleased with the first-ever Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which concluded Saturday. “What I’m not sure I fully anticipated was the emotional response, which is something that I’m still really glowing about,” he said.
He cited the response of the golfers, their families and the club’s staff. “I think it made us a better organization,” he said. “I’m also very proud to hear so many members who have come up to me to say they have never been prouder to be a member of Augusta National.”
As to criticism that it stole thunder from the concurrent ANA Inspiration, the crown jewel of LPGA majors, he said that the players who stood out in the women’s amateur event will give the LPGA an immediate spark when they join that tour.