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Published: Sunday, 8/12/2012

Calls on courses wrong numbers

Pros say good fans keep talk on hold

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Angela Stanford said most fans are respectful and don't use their cell phones, mostly because the majority of fans are golfers themselves.
Angela Stanford said most fans are respectful and don't use their cell phones, mostly because the majority of fans are golfers themselves.
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In a society seemingly dominated by technology nowadays, there was a glaring absence of BlackBerrys, iPhones, and other hand-held communication devices on the grounds at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania.

At the 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, it wasn't by default, but it wasn't necessarily by design.

The LPGA does not prohibit spectators to use mobile devices at its events, yet there hasn't been a publicized incident involving an LPGA player and the abuse of a mobile device during play.

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Photo gallery: Jamie Farr Toledo Classic: Aug. 11

"It's been pretty quiet this season," said Angela Stanford, who is tied for eighth entering today's final round. "Good fans are pretty respectful. I think, occasionally, you might see or hear one, but there's a mutual respect for the golfers here, because a lot of the people watching these tournaments are golfers, as well."

In 2011, the PGA announced a policy that allows spectators to bring mobile phones to men's tournaments, with the volume set on silent, but spectators are only allowed to use phones away from tournament play, typically in designated "phone zones."

This weekend at the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, S.C., the PGA instituted the "Mobile Device Policy Enforcement" patrol, a group of volunteers that monitors the spectators for phone usage and either issues citations for or confiscates the phones of those who violate the PGA's guidelines.

Yet at LPGA tournaments in other parts of the world — where gadgets are more predominant in certain cultures — Stanford has seen the abuse, and not just the use of mobile devices during tournament play.

At the entrance to the 18th hole Saturday at the Farr Classic, a sign reminded spectators, "No cell phones turned on."

A tournament volunteer didn't know if the policy was being enforced within the grandstands surrounding the final green, but as Stanford and Mi Jung Hur completed their third round Saturday, a handful of spectators in the stands at the 18th hole glided digits across the screens of their smart phones.

The more popular — and mainstream — that mobile phones have become, more difficult it has been to enforce an umbrella no-mobile device policy. Individual LPGA tournaments have set their own guidelines, including:

  • The CME Group Titleholders in November in Naples, Fla., which will allow spectators to bring mobile phones on the tournament grounds, but will require phones to be in silent mode.
  • The ShopRite LPGA Classic in June in Galloway, N.J., prohibited cameras and camcorders but allowed cell phones, provided they were set on vibrate or silent.
  • The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in June in Waterloo, Ont., allowed mobile devices, with restrictions that prohibited the use of video and camera functions during tournament days and mandated that phones were set to silent mode or turned off prior to entering the tournament grounds.
  • Both the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in April in Mobile, Ala., and the Safeway Classic this month in North Plains, Ore., have prohibited mobile devices, per tournament guidelines.

In her short time so far on the LPGA tour, Jacqui Concolino hasn't seen or heard much of the cell phones and iPads that are almost a staple of today's society.

Still, like many elite athletes, she's found a way to phase out the background noise.

"Only [Friday] I heard one phone go off, and it was on the last hole," Concolino said, pointing back to the 18th green. "But other than that, I don't care if people need to talk on the phone. I don't really notice it."

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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