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‘It’s pure golf’: Tiger Woods, others reflect on what makes the Masters so distinct

April 13, 2019

AUGUSTA — Inside the press building at the Masters, phones ring and ping and buzz and bleep. Fingers clack and carry across keyboards. Videos and live-streamed content play across various screens and seemingly announce themselves through speakers, both public and personal.

Outside Augusta National Golf Club’s gates, Masters patrons call and text and message and snap away. Drivers honk. Cops whistle and wave.

Inside the gates – on the legendary course – things are audibly different. Visually different, too.

Cellphones, laptops, tablets and beepers, among other things, are not allowed on the course. Fitness trackers, like Fitbits, and electronic watches, like an Apple Watch, are allowed; just don’t send a text or coordinate a rendezvous via your wrist.

Tiger Woods, a repeat crowd-favorite here at Augusta National, on Tuesday discussed technology’s influence on the game of golf.

During his scheduled interview, one person observed, “The Masters might be the biggest collection of people on Earth with no cellphones.”

“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Woods responded. The golf icon’s smile was noted in the provided transcript.

Rory McIlroy made a near-photocopy comment in his interview: “Wonderful, isn’t it?”

Woods – later prompted by a more direct question and not a statement – described the Masters as “so different” and “so unique.” McIlroy pitched the lack of phones as “refreshing.”

“You know, it’s just player and caddie out there playing,” Woods continued. “We’re prepping together, and there’s no other distractions inside the ropes.”

“Yes there are people with cameras, but they don’t constantly have their face in the device,” McIlroy said.

Point-and-shoot and disposable cameras have become a lifeline at the Masters.

Woods seemingly attributed “some of the greatest golf you’ve ever seen” to the Masters’ stringent restrictions, lengthy list of banned items and overall lack of attention-dividing devices.

But cellphone policy – that includes taking photos and videos, too – is not uniform across the golf world. Woods alluded to that during his interview. Phil Mickelson did, too.

“We don’t mind you taking pictures. We don’t mind you videoing it while we’re playing,” Woods said. “Just please put it on silent.”

“The people, the fans on Tour have done a great job of putting it on silent, so even though you see phones, you don’t flinch or worry about it,” Mickelson said separately, complementing Woods’ comments.

Putting it on silent, at least in terms of cellphones, isn’t an option at the Masters. The Masters has maintained the nuclear option, to borrow a phrase from contemporary politics.

“I think it’s cool to see that and see that Augusta has upheld that tradition,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s a great thing.”

“The golf course is special,” Woods said.