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Yes, you can bring your cellphone to the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

Tiger Woods tees off at the sixth hole

Tiger Woods tees off at the sixth hole as fans watch during the first day of practice rounds in the PGA Championship tournament at Bethpage Black golf course on Monday, May 13, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The last time the PGA Championship was played on Long Island, fans could not bring cellphones onto the course because it was 1926 and they did not exist.

The last time a major was played at Bethpage Black, fans could not bring cellphones onto the course because it was 2009 and such sacrilege was not yet permitted.

The last time a major was played anywhere, at Augusta National last month, fans could not bring cellphones onto the course because The Masters says so.

But these are the late 2010s, and  outside Augusta, Georgia, the notion of confiscating fans’ phones is akin to confiscating their right arms.

So yes, feel free to bring yours to Bethpage this week for the PGA Championship, as long as it is in “golf mode.”

The sometimes-adhered-to policy asks people to set devices to silent or vibrate mode, to keep the camera flash off and to make or take calls no closer than 100 yards from competition.

Pictures and video are OK during practice rounds through Wednesday and OK during real rounds more than 100 yards away from competition.

Texts, email and social media posts are OK as long as “players are not in position and about to play their shots.”

The U.S. Open began to allow cellphones in 2015, so fans at Shinnecock last June were good to go, but the PGA Championship was the first major to get on board, in 2011, shortly after the PGA Tour took the plunge.

The idea was not so much to allow fans to check in on babysitters and business deals but to enhance the on-site experience for a sport notoriously difficult to follow from anywhere but in front of a television screen.

“Obviously, it’s evolved,” said Gary Treater, general manager of PGA.com for Turner Sports. “The apps have come a long way in the last few years.”

The PGA app can detect when you are at the course and provides data such as player locators, scores, weather warnings and other pertinent information.

Treater said fans at sports events now expect to stay connected and also expect an app to deliver an experience.

“For the first couple of years, we saw at some of the events players were a little skeptical,” Treater said. “As time goes on, it’s become a normal thing.”

Sometimes fans stray and players complain. But mostly there is peaceful co-existence.

For those not at the course itself, PGA.com will play a key role in following the event, providing live streams of featured groups as well as other data. That is especially important at an event such as a golf major, which, like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, features action on Thursday and Friday that conflict with work and school schedules.

“We kind of look at this as providing the best fan experience for golf fans, whether they’re at the office, at home, at the course or on the go,” Treater said.

On Thursday, Masters champion Tiger Woods and defending PGA champion Brooks Koepka will tee off at 8:24 a.m., before television coverage on Turner begins. Will the PGA website have the streaming capacity to handle the traffic?

“The ‘Tiger Effect’ was going on for years and years; we figured out how to ratchet it up for that,” Treater said. “The last few years with him not playing [regularly], the traffic has been lighter. But now we’re kind of getting back to the way it was . . We’ll have plenty of bandwidth.”

New York Sports