Disconnected: Some Masters fans ‘jonesing’ for their phones

Apr 5, 2022, 11:08 AM | Updated: 11:54 pm

With mobile phone prohibited on the Augusta National Golf Course, spectators use phones provided by...

With mobile phone prohibited on the Augusta National Golf Course, spectators use phones provided by the club near the seventh hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Mary Gray hadn’t even made it all the way to the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club when the reality of the protective bubble that settles over the course during Masters’ week fully set in.

She knew the club’s “no phone policy” and dutifully left her cell in her group’s rental car. Standing near the massive leaderboard to the right of the first fairway before Tuesday’s practice round and clutching a disposable camera that took multiple trips to a drug store to secure, Gray kept reflexively tapping her pocket.

“I’m … jonesing,” Gray said with an exasperated laugh.

She’s not alone. Part of the Masters’ enduring appeal is its timelessness.

“It’s like a different world when you walk through the gates,” said 21-year-old Tim Nelson of Atlanta, clad from head to toe in Masters swag while watching Tiger Woods chipping 30 yards away.

A world that predates selfies and social media and all the other daily distractions that fit in the palm of our hands. To step onto the perfectly manicured grass is like boarding a 352-acre time machine. It comes with its perks. Such as azaleas in bloom. Pimento cheese sandwiches that run just $1.50 and a chance to truly unplug for a few hours.

Still, the Fear Of Missing Out is real. Besides, what good is posing for a group picture at any number of Augusta’s iconic spots if you can’t immediately humble brag about it on the social media platform of your choosing?

No “Doing it for the ‘Gram” here.

“I know right!” said Melissa McDonald of Athens, Georgia as she posed for a picture being taken by her fiancee Max Jensen near the second green. “I think it’s cool that it’s sort of old school but at the same time, you’re so used to just being connected at all times.”

That connection to the outside world is put on hold at the nursery Bobby Jones turned into one of the most storied courses on the planet. The initial angst that Gray felt as she made her way from the entrance to the course didn’t exist for Kelly Poff of Orlando as she stood to the side of the eighth fairway waiting for Brooks Koepka to blast one on the par-5.

Poff’s family purchased a Go Pro on Monday explicitly so they could bring it to Augusta. At first, Poff admitted there was an “Oh my God, I can’t have my phone” moment. A couple of hours into her first session along the ropes, her anxiousness had eased.

“It’s kind of nice,” said Poff, who is from Orlando, Florida. “You’re really sort of away from it. Now it’s like, you don’t even think about your cell unless you want a selfie.”

While the Poffs splurged for something a little fancier than the kind of disposable technology last seen on tables at wedding receptions nearly a generation ago, Larry Diedrich fished into the back of a drawer for a waterproof digital camera that only sees the light of day during family trips to Hawaii.

“I had to remember to recharge it,” said Diedrich, who made the short two-hour trip from the Hilton Head, South Carolina, area.

Diedrich spent 20 years as a volunteer at the John Deere Classic, which basically has no restrictions, just like every other golf tournament on the planet. Searching for that charging cable was a small price to pay for the opportunity to snap a couple of action shots as players made their way to the fifth green.

A few holes away, Zach Mendill of Columbia, South Carolina, reveled in the chance to have the mostly undivided attention of his two sons as they navigated their way from the grandstand behind the eighth green to the ninth tee box.

“See boys, this used to be the 18th hole,” Mendill said as Trent and Anthony looked on silently underneath their blue-and-white Masters baseball caps.

No oohs. No aahs. But no telling them to put the hand-held device of their choice down either. It’s a tradeoff Mendill will happily live with.

“It’s nice to have a couple hours where it’s just me and them,” he said.

Augusta isn’t entirely cut off. There is a bank of touch-tone phones across from the gift shop and a few rows of them adjacent to a concession stand near the 18th tee, with instructions on how to use your credit card so you can give someone a shout just to tell them where you’re calling from.

“It’s kind of a ‘I’m here and you’re not,’ situation,” said Tom Miller of Charlotte, North Carolina, who called his brother to gently rub it in.

There are its drawbacks. Gray’s group of four became a group of three when they were separated at some point between the parking lot and the course. No phone means no quick text for a place to meet up. While she’d like to see a dedicated area where phones could be used, she understands it’s out of her hands.

You don’t come to Augusta to spend it with your head down scanning Twitter. You come for the sights. The smells. The roars. The tradition. The chance to be a part of something at a place intent on keeping its promise to deliver an experience unlike any other.


More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

Disconnected: Some Masters fans ‘jonesing’ for their phones