Put That Cellphone Away!

Now that the 2014 season is upon us, I’d like to poll the group and get your views on a somewhat sensitive topic; cellphone use on the golf course.    As far as my use, I’ve had a smartphone for a couple of years and the prehistoric predecessor about eight years prior.  Not once have I made or taken a call during a game of golf.  I have my phone on vibrate in the bag and occasionally pull to take a few pictures or video, but that’s it.  I view golf as my time and if you need to interrupt me it better be important, otherwise it can wait until my round is finished.  In my view, it’s a breach of etiquette to whip out your phone and make calls from the sanctity of the course.  I know many golf GPS apps are available for smartphones, and I’m fine with folks checking for golf, but I draw the line at yardages and hazards.

I draw my bias from a time shortly before I owned a cellphone when I played in a 9-hole captain’s choice golf league after work.  The competition was friendly, but everyone tried hard to win.  One lady on my team insisted upon making work calls during our matches, and on one hole actually had the phone between her ear and chin while trying to chip for the team’s eagle on a par-5.  I called time and read her the mini-riot act.  What blew my mind is that as a seasoned golfer she had no idea she was doing anything improper and was a bit embarrassed when I called her on it.

The one time I wished I had a cellphone on the course was when my lovely wife called the pro shop and had the marshal come out to pick me up because she had locked herself out of the car.  He drove me in to take this “urgent” call which of course had me worried, and as luck would have it, I was threatening to shoot the best round of my life.  Having just completed 15 holes in 3-under par, by the time I got to the phone in the golf shop, my wife had the emergency resolved.  The marshal returned me to my group and I promptly finished bogey, triple bogey, double bogey.

I wouldn’t dream of traveling without my phone because of the GPS, internet access, conveniences, and the security blanket factor but do you really need a phone to interrupt your game?  My God, how did we ever golf before cellphones!  What are your thoughts?

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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7 Responses to Put That Cellphone Away!

  1. I wish I could afford 3 or 4 hours sans email or texts, but unless I’m playing on a Sunday afternoon, I’m afraid that’s not realistic for me. Call it career insecurity or the customer service nature of having clients, but that kind of communication blackout is more nerve-racking than relaxing for me. I don’t remember ever taking or placing a call on the golf course if I wasn’t playing solo, but I must admit that the cellphone is on vibrate in my pocket “just in case.”

  2. Brian

    I am with you. I do not use a cell phone on the course for anything. I have, mistakenly left it on in a tournament….like you playing well until the call. I am a bit of a purest with respect to no phones, but understand 1beardedgolfers view, so as long as I am not in a tournament, I generally relent and don’t bother my playing partners if they want to use theirs. However, it cannot interrupt the game!

    Cheers
    Jim

    • Brian Penn says:

      Jim, I think the always available mindset is a cultural thing that has come of age. But is it right that as consumers and customers, should we expect to be able to interrupt the vendors and businesses people we patronize during their leisure time? I don’t think that’s fair. Thanks! Brian

      • You have a great point. Personally, golf is a priority for me and I do not have my phone on. I definitely prefer my playing partners to have theirs off. I think culture might be against this one! I guess the question I would ask: Does the phone need to be on or do they want it on?
        Really like the question about cell phones!

        Cheers
        Jim

      • Brian Penn says:

        Good point about confusing needs and wants. It gets murky but one thing is for sure, if you’re trying to play your best, you need to avoid distractions. I’d rank unwanted cellphone calls right up there with slow play as significant distractions. Thanks.

      • Totally agree!

        Cheers
        Jim

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