ORGANISERS of this year’s Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes have lifted the ban on mobile phones, writes STEVE SIMPSON.
A total of 27,000 phones were taken from spectators at last year’s Open at Sandwich and handed back at the end of play. But the ban, which has been in force since 2006, has been lifted.
Calls will be allowed in specially designated areas at the Links Gate venue, but photography and video recording will not be permitted during the four days of the championship, though will be allowed during practice.
Peter Dawson, chief executive of organisers the Royal and Ancient, said: “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.”
Dawson continued: “We understand there will be concerns over this change in policy but we will be liaising with spectators around the tented village and food and drink outlets.
“Strict rules will be put in place to ensure that play is not affected in any way.
“Our spectators are very knowledgeable and understand golf, so we are confident they will respect the players.”
The R and A admitted they were keen for people to use download their Open Championship apps to smart-phones.
By moving the Open galleries into the digital age, the R&A hope to improve the spectacle and tap into a younger market.
Dawson added: “We are offering spectators access to an enhanced range of Apps for Android, iPhone and iPad that will offer live video and other Open attractions.
“They will keep them up to date with essential championship information, including scores, tee times, news and an interactive course guide.”