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U.S. Open: A Phone-Free Zone

| June 13, 2012
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Jeff Hall of the USGAsets up the course before Tuesday's practice round. (Darren Carroll/USGA)

Many of us are used to having our cell phones at all times, taking advantage of any lull in conversation or idle moment to update our Facebook status, share random thoughts on Twitter, and take pictures of anything mildly amusing.

If this is you and you’re one of the lucky people who got tickets to the U.S. Open golf championship at the Olympic Club this week, prepare for a little separation anxiety. Cell phones aren’t permitted inside the gates. And don’t bother trying to put your little friend in airplane mode, or promise to disable all its alarms and beeps. No phone. Period. Bag searches and metal detectors will help enforce the policy, and there’s a phone-check just outside the entrance.

Although golfers enjoy the hushed voices and polite applause their sport is famous for,  the PGA Tour does allow limited phone use, and the United States Golf Association, which puts on the Open, will permit spectators to keep their devices at the women’s  tournament.  But USGA Assistant Director of Communications Dan Hubbard says at least for this year, spectators will have to force themselves to live in the moment.

“Some people might say it’s kind of welcoming,” he says. “You’re in this environment where the focus is 100 percent on the golf, on what’s happening in front of you on the course, and the concentration, the professionalism of the players. It’s a pretty quiet environment out here.”

Hubbard and other USGA staff have been monitoring the situation during the three days of practice rounds. He says it’s possible the USGA might allow limited use of phones in the future, to take advantage of social engagement services like Twitter. But so far, that hasn’t been necessary in attracting fans.

“We’re sold out for the 26th year in a row,” says Hubbard. “The current streak of sellouts actually began here at the Olympic Club in 1987.  We’re extremely happy that the Bay Area is such a hotbed of golf and such a supporter of golf championships.”

Hubbard says that so far transportation to and from the Olympic Club is going smoothly.  There’s no parking on-site; spectators should take BART to the Colma station or park at Candlestick, and pick up a free shuttle at either location.

The USGA Spectator Guide lists some other stuff besides cell phones you shouldn’t try to bring along, like food, drinks, cameras, signs, banners, dogs, cats, lawn chairs, stepladders, weapons, or portable TVs and radios. It also warns spectators to wear comfy shoes – and no spikes, of course.  Those who aren’t familiar with the microclimate at the San Francisco-Daly City border should remember to prepare for foggy and/or breezy conditions.

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  • Ezload

    Thank you Phil…idiots with cell phones have disrespected an easy courtesy on the golf course.

  • Van

    The Spectator Guide says they won’t even let you on the shuttle with a phone, so what’s with the “phone check” you mention? I see nothing about it on the US Open site.

    Please share. Thanks.