By Troy A. Bruzewski~Sports correspondent
Phil Mickelson may not have realized the irony.
The PGA professional became so frustrated with spectators using cell phones and cameras at the Masters Tournament last year, while he’s teeing off. Mickelson couldn’t wait until he left the golf course to complain; he submitted his complaint to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Fenchem, from the sixth hole of the course.
How did Mickelson do that? By using a cell phone.
Mickelson wasn’t penalized for using the electronic device while on the course, because the use wasn’t to gain a golfing advantage. However, sending a text message while on the course will earn a high school golfer an exit from the event.
Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association sent a reminder to its members this year, the cell phone ban is still in-place and golfers should arrange safe storage before drawing the first club. Even a cell phone powered off, is not allowed.
One of the many reasons for the ban is the direct effect of technology. One particular phone application works on over 60 smartphone models and delivers distance to the center of the green, yardage imagery of each hole, assist with club selection, determine pin position and hazard warnings.
All this is available even before trying an Internet search, which also is a feature with most cell phones.
“Today, golfers can lookup that stuff and we never could before,” Wilmot Union athletic director Jerry Christiansen said. “We’ve used range finders before, but those have been around for a while. Plus, those must be shared with everyone in the group.”
Sharing is required when range finders are allowed, but it’s a concern when it comes to phones. Christiansen said the elimination of phones from the courses, has eliminated the chances of golfers sharing information with their teammates by text messaging.
“Giving a kid advice – the first golfer on the course could tell the other golfers to lookout for pin placement on this hole, or whatever,” he said.
Christiansen – a former golf coach – said a determined golfer could be less dependent on this technology, if they’d do some golf homework.
“They could look-up all that information, in advance,” he said. “Study the information in advance and become familiar with the course, before getting there.”
This season, getting to the course has certainly been an issue. Inclement weather has forced the cancellations or postponement of nearly every golf event this season. Christiansen said this season is busier than prior seasons, when regarding updating the calendar.
“I’ve only been (athletic director) for a few years, but I’ve never seen (spring weather) this bad in my years as a coach, either,” he said. “It’s getting close to the point where we’ve had so many cancellations that we can’t schedule any non-conference events.”