The battle between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth on Sunday afternoon was must-see theater, the type of drama that had fans at home glued to their screens. Turns out, many in the crowd at Glen Oaks Club watched through electronic devices as well.
The Northern Trust signaled the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but also the beginning of a new, adjusted PGA Tour cell-phone policy at tournaments. Spectators are now allowed to take photos and videos during on-course competition, usage that had previously been restricted to practice rounds.
Moreover, fans are allowed to share their photos and videos on whatever social platform of their choosing with tour consent, an allowance that’s somewhat rare among American sports leagues. Live streaming and shot-by-shot coverage remain prohibited.
The European Tour followed suit, announcing a more-relaxed enforcement regarding cell phones to its fans at the Made in Denmark event.
So how did the initial rollout in Long Island go? Let’s call the reception “mixed.”
Make no mistake, the loosened restrictions were warmly received by the crowd, although one could make the case many didn’t know such a policy existed in the first place. Thanks to the societal omnipresence of mobile devices, breaking out a cell—no matter the venue—is taken as an unalienable right.
But, while the adjusted policy states that phones must be silenced, there was a shocking amount of clicks throughout the event. Such sound is inconsequential in most sporting arenas and stadiums, as noise is often encouraged. Yet, in a game where peace is paramount, that clack, however audible it may be, can be jarring to the player.