Phil Mickelson sent a message to the PGA Tour last Thursday at the Memorial Tournament — we all heard his comments loud and clear when he pulled out of Jack’s event after his first-round 79, citing “mental fatiague,” but what we didn’t know was tat he actually used his cell phone to send a text message to Commissioner Tim Finchem from the 6th fairway at Muirfield Village. Yes, really.
According to four people with direct knowledge, Mickelson sent a text message to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem from the sixth fairway at Muirfield Village suggesting that a lack of policing fans with cellphones was getting out of hand.
Mickelson withdrawing for what he called “mental fatigue” is not a tour violation. Players can withdraw for any reason after completing a round. Using a phone to send the commissioner a text is another matter, though the tour doesn’t disclose any disciplinary actions.
If nothing else, one official said it got the tour’s attention.
Isn’t it ironic?
Sorry, Phil, but cell phones are here to stay. The current rule lets people bring in their phones, but they’re only supposed to use them to talk in “designated areas,” and they’re barred from taking pictures of video with them — which as we know, is a difficult policy to enforce when you have 40,000 people on the golf course. Well, the Commish is not reversing its policy on fans and cell phones, according to Bloomberg’s Mike Buteau:
“We’re committed to making it work,” Finchem said in an interview while playing in a pro-am round at the Champions Tour’s Tradition event in Birmingham, Alabama. “If we get to a point where we don’t have an acceptable competitive environment, we’ll do whatever we need to do, but I don’t see that happening.”
The issue seems to become more apparent when a group includes several marquee players, such as Mickelson, a four-time major winner, and Fowler and Watson, who partnered with fellow PGA Tour player Ben Crane in a popular 2011 “Golf Boys” video, Finchem said.
After testing mobile-phone use by fans at five events in 2010, the PGA Tour began allowing fans to bring them to tournaments in 2011. Phones must be on vibrate or silent in designated areas.
“We know, by virtue of the fact that we don’t get many ringers, that the vast majority of fans will use good etiquette,” Finchem said. “We have to be aggressive to some extent when the policy is violated.”
With fans using their phones to access statistics and keep in touch with players through social media, Finchem, said the benefits of allowing the devices on the course are too great to ignore.
Players like Rickie Fowler say the real problem is that most fans don’t know how to put their phones on silent. With the exception of a few outdated phones, if it’s on the silent/vibrate mode, it doesn’t make a shutter sound when taking pictures. So, hey, people, it’s easy, learn how to put your phone on silent. If you have an iPhone, it’s easy, there’s a little switch on the left-side and move it over so you see the orange, which puts it on no-sound mode.
As Rickie suggested last week, perhaps the Tour needs more signage around the course to help fans out. “Need vibrate, question mark,” he quipped.
(Getty Images/Scott Halleran)