Phone ban relaxed at Open
Open Championship Claret Jug (File)
London - Spectators at July's Open Championship being held at Royal Lytham will be able to use their mobile phones, but only at designated call areas, the R&A said on Monday.
A ban on all cellphones was put in place in 2006 following a growing number of cases of golfers being disturbed while playing or preparing to play their shots.
Calls will be now allowed in designated areas, but photography and video recording will not be permitted during the four days of the championship, which this year takes place from July 19-22.
"There is no denying the attachment people feel to their mobile phones both in terms of gathering information and staying in touch with family and friends," said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.
"We understand this and allowing their use at the championship will enrich the Open experience."
Dawson continued: "We understand there will be concerns over this change in policy but we will be liaising with spectators around the tented village and food and drink outlets.
"Strict rules will be put in place designed to ensure that play is not affected in any way by the change.
"Our spectators are very knowledgeable and understand golf and so we are confident they will respect the players."
By moving the Open galleries into the modern age of smartphone use the R&A are hoping to improve the spectacle and tap into a younger market.
"We are offering spectators access to an enhanced range of Apps for Android, iPhone and iPad that will offer live video of play and other attractions at the Open," Dawson added.
"They will keep them up to date with essential championship information, including score, tee times, news and an interactive course guide."