Phone bans often putter out, but this one may be forever

Every April, the Masters is the biggest show in golf, but there’s not a cellphone in sight.

The Masters, golf’s premier annual tournament (teeing off today), is a shared societal illusion designed to give dads something to talk about. We all know this.

golfing with a phone

But there’s one more reason it grabs our attention: It’s the highest-profile cellphone-free environment still in existence.

No phones? No problem

Banning portable electronics at Augusta National Country Club is a conscious decision the hosts vow to maintain.

  • And to enforce. (Just ask the Atlanta man banned for life after his dad accidentally brought a phone to a practice round.)

Why should they do things any differently? The draconian phone policy has done nothing to slow fan interest.

  • Tickets are so in demand that, per Golf Digest, the odds of winning the Masters ticket lottery — 0.55% — aren’t far off from the actual lottery.

If anything, the ban adds to the appeal. For the 40k attendees and 10m+ TV viewers, the Masters is visually striking theater —the stripped-down presentation, not far from the sights and sounds of the inaugural 1934 Masters, provides much of its mystique.

Which is fully on brand for an event known as “A Tradition Unlike Any Other” — where many of the traditions are worth forgetting.

  • It must be noted that Augusta National, an invite-only, mostly-white-male club for the obscenely wealthy, is historically known for regressive policies — it only just marked a decade of women being considered for membership.

A true novelty

It’s only speaking technologically when we say the Masters is worthy of attention. It makes the unimaginable — a weekend sans phone — feel possible.

Most spaces can only request phone etiquette; few have the ability to enforce outright bans without bite-back from patrons. To wit:

  • Jack White caught expletives for his phone-free concert policy.
  • An internet brouhaha followed when Texas restaurant Caterina’s nixed the cellulars.
  • And phone bans in schools… That’s a lot of mess.

Golf fans, meanwhile, continue to sit in silence. Which, we guess, is their default position, but still.

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