Five years after a fan smuggled a cell phone into the Open in a sandwich, the R&A has decided to allow spectators to bring mobile devices to Royal Lytham and St Annes this summer.
In a statement, the R&A said:
Since 2006, mobile phones have not been permitted throughout The Open venue for the entire week. However spectators will be able to carry their phones, with calls allowed in designated areas, at the Open in July.
Photography and video recording will still not be permitted during Championship days although spectators will be allowed to check their smartphones from the course and in grandstands, and so they will be able to keep up-to-date with live scores, course guides, video, live action and much more from the official Open Championship apps.
“There is no denying the attachment people feel to their mobile phones both in terms of gathering information and staying in touch with family and friends. We understand this and allowing their use at the Championship will enrich The Open experience,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A.
“We are offering spectators access to an enhanced range of apps for Android, iPhone and iPad that will offer live video of play and other attractions at The Open and will keep them up-to-date with essential Championship information including scoring, tee times, news and an interactive course guide.”
Spectators will have restricted use of their phones and will be limited to making calls in designated areas around the tented village and food and drink outlets. Strict rules will be put in place designed to ensure that play is not affected in any way by the change.
Dawson added: “We understand there will be concerns over this change in policy but will be liaising with spectators at the Championship to ensure calls are not taking place near play. Our spectators are very knowledgeable and understand golf, and so we are confident they will respect the players.”
Mobile phones were banned for the 2007 Open after Tiger Woods repeatedly had to back off shots at Hoylake in 2006.
R&A officials revealed in 2008 that a spectator smuggled a phone through the gates in a sandwich when Padraig Harrington captured his first Claret Jug at Carnoustie. It was taken off him, yet he tried again later in the day with it in his shoe.