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Marla Ridenour on Sports

PGA Tour changes cell phone policy

By Marla Published: February 15, 2011

Spectators attending the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club Aug. 4-7 will no longer have to check their cell phones at the gate.

The PGA Tour announced a policy for mobile devices Tuesday that will allow them to be used in select areas on the golf course. It takes effect at the Honda Classic Feb. 28-March 6 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Patrons must have the volume on their devices set to silent. Fans will be allowed to check and send messages away from play. Phone calls can be made and received in designated areas, such as concession stands. No video recording will be allowed during the week of the tournament and no photography will be allowed once competition begins.

The tour's policy does not include the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship, which are run by other governing bodies.

I can also see why tournaments would no longer want the responsibility of checking expensive phones. But while the policy sounds good, the key will be the location of the designated areas are for talking. Some concession stands are too close to the action. Given how loudly some speak while on cell phones, tournaments may need volunteers to police those areas.

And what happens when Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson plunks a spectator who's checking his/her Blackberry? While Mickelson always signs a glove for those he hits, serious injury might be more likely.  Will Woods' uber-caddie Steve Williams now be on the alert for phones as well as cameras because of the possibility they're not set to silent? Knowing Williams, he'd hear the vibration. Fans using phones for photography could become the biggest headache.

Of course, I believe some have been bringing their phones onto the golf course for years. Hopefully now that it's allowed, spectators will observe the same golf course etiquette expected before the tour lifted its ban.

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