Skip to main content

Golf stars welcome return of mobile phones at British Open

July 19, 2012 -- Updated 1031 GMT (1831 HKT)
The mobile phone is becoming more and more prominent at sporting events, with spectators eager to share opinions and pictures via social media. The mobile phone is becoming more and more prominent at sporting events, with spectators eager to share opinions and pictures via social media.
HIDE CAPTION
The rise of the phone
Open for business
Par for the course
Sporting snaps
Memorable moments
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some of golf's best players back decision to allow mobile phones back into the British Open
  • The tournament banned mobiles from the course in 2006 but have relented this year
  • World No. 3 Lee Westwood agrees with the move saying phones are key for business

(CNN) -- Two of the world's top golfers have backed the R & A's decision to embrace technology by allowing spectators to bring mobile phones into this week's British Open.

The R & A, golf's rulemakers outside of the United States and Mexico and organizers of the sport's oldest major, have relented on a ban on phones which had been in place since 2006.

World No. 3 Lee Westwood, searching for his first triumph in one of golf's four majors in front of his home fans, says the ban was unrealistic in the modern age.

"We live in times when the mobile phone is a key tool in business affairs so I think we might deter people from attending if there is a ban," the 39-year-old, who has over 450,000 followers on Twitter, said in quotes released to CNN ahead of the 141st British Open.

"Obviously you don't want them ringing when you are about to take a shot, but in general golf followers tend to be mindful of a player's needs."

Will the Open return to Royal Portrush?
Hotshots: Luke Donald's bunker shot
David Duval looks to regain winning form

Australia's Adam Scott has also backed the R & A's decision, but warned that fans will need to use their phones responsibly.

"Cell phones or smart phones are a part of life these days," said the world No.13 ahead of the tournament at The Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club on England's west coast.

"I don't have a problem with it. I just hope all spectators at the Open are considerate towards the players and put them on silent."

R & A head of communications Malcolm Booth explained how mobile phone use will only be allowed in specific zones, and that the move is part of the British Open welcoming new technology.

"It's absolutely something we're embracing," Booth told CNN. "We're not naïve or blind to the potential issues it could cause or the challenges which come with this policy.

"But we're excited our spectators will have access to more information than they've ever had on a golf course before. That can only heighten the experience of the Open championship."

The subject of mobile phone use during golf tournaments was raised after both four-time major winner Phil Mickelson and 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson complained of spectators taking pictures during June's Memorial Tournament.

Despite the complaints from high-profile players, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem outlined how no ban on phones at events would be implemented.

Booth is hoping new technology designed for the British Open, which was won by Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke in 2011, will enhance the spectator experience.

"New for this year we have an ipad application," added Booth. "Allowing our spectators to have handheld devices on the golf course allows them to have up-to-the-minute scores.

"There is a new course guide we have for this year which uses GPS technology to show spectators and people who aren't at the event exactly where different groups are on the golf course."

"We're also going to have live coverage available in the UK through our apps, which is an exciting development."

The first round of the British Open tees off on Thursday, with the champion being crowned on Sunday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Will Phil Mickelson win a fourth green jacket? Can Europe end its long Masters wait? Or will Adam Scott emulate the absent Tiger Woods?
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
He's been mistaken for Tiger Woods' ball-boy, but that won't be the case when amateur star Matt Fitzpatrick tees off at the Masters.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson shows us how to hit the long ball.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1827 GMT (0227 HKT)
CNN's Shane O'Donoghue meets Billy Payne -- the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
Shane O'Donoghue meets Ben Crenshaw who won his first of two Masters thirty years ago this month.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
They carry a bag for a living but these men can bring home six-figure incomes. Welcome to the world of a caddy.
CNN's Alex Thomas welcomes golf opening itself up to women, but questions the motives behind the decision.
ADVERTISEMENT