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Cell Phones: A Permanent Penalty at Augusta

10 Apr, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Wow. Talk about a bad call on the part of a fan.

Spectators who tried to enter the grounds of Augusta National during the Masters were subject to search and seizure – and what security was looking for might surprise you.

A recent article in True New Jersey noted that those caught trying to enter the grounds with a cell phone could be escorted off and banned for life from the facility.

Banned. For. Life.

“This is the penalty for the crime of taking a cell phone onto the course at Augusta National,” the article noted. “You think the billionaires who run the course aren't serious about the policy prohibiting electronic devices? The one the guards yell out to the "patrons," as they're called here, again and again as they approach the gates? Well, go ahead and make their day.”

But to look at it in perspective, there’s simply no excuse for spectators not knowing the policy. It’s stated in written rules, it’s posted on signage and, as mentioned, it is verbally presented (repeatedly).

And still, people try to break the rules. Repeatedly. As a result, officials have their own response down to a science. If security, in the process of inspecting all bags and personnel entering the premises, finds a scofflaw with a cell phone, that person is escorted inside a special building where a security official fills out an incident report and confiscates the badge that admits them to the course. They are then escorted off the premises. Permanently. With no refund.

And just as a side note: Masters tickets are no small investment.

Just to reinforce the notion, offenders receive formal correspondence after the event, noting they are, now and forever, persona non grata at Augusta.

Is it an overreaction? Depends upon your viewpoint. Professional photographers at sports have long complained that their sideline space is being infiltrated by parents clutching tablets and cell phones, even to the point of crossing lines and edging onto the field to try to get shots. Even professional teams are having problems with flashes and more from phone cameras.

It’s not just sports, either. Wedding photographers are finding it difficult to take shots without having raised cameras and tablets in their field of vision; in fact, some brides and grooms are laying down the law and ordering guests to turn off cell phones and devices for the duration of the event. Concert photographers have also weighed in on the matter.

The use of phone cameras -- even to the point of being in harm's way -- has reached new heights, or perhaps lows. To get an idea of why, there’s this great image.

So maybe, Augusta’s policy is simply a great idea whose time has come.

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