AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Mary Gray hadn’t even reached the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club when the reality of the protective bubble that settles on the course during Masters week fully set in.
She was aware of the club’s “no phone policy” and dutifully left her cell phone in her band’s rental car. Standing by the massive leaderboard to the right of the first fairway ahead of Tuesday’s practice round and clutching a disposable camera that took several trips to a pharmacy to secure, Gray continued to reflexively tap his pocket.
“I’m…jonesing,” Gray said with an exasperated laugh.
She is not alone. Part of the Masters’ enduring appeal is its timelessness.
“It’s like a different world when you walk through the doors,” said Tim Nelson, 21, of Atlanta, dressed head-to-toe in Masters swag while watching Tiger Woods crumble 30 yards out.
A world that predates selfies and social media and all the other daily distractions that fit in the palm of our hands. Walking on the perfectly manicured grass is like stepping aboard a 352-acre time machine. It comes with its benefits. Like blooming azaleas. Pimento cheese sandwiches that are only $1.50 and a chance to really unplug for a few hours.
Yet the fear of missing out is real. Plus, what’s the point of posing for a group photo at a number of iconic Augusta locations if you can’t immediately brag about it on your social media platform of choice?
No “Do for the ‘Gram” here.
“Is not it!” said Melissa McDonald of Athens, Georgia, as she posed for a photo taken by her fiancé Max Jensen near the second green. “I think it’s cool that it’s kind of old school, but at the same time you’re so used to being connected all the time.”
This connection to the outside world is put on the backburner at the Bobby Jones Nursery transformed into one of the most famous courses on the planet. The initial angst Gray felt as she made her way to the entrance to the course did not exist for Orlando’s Kelly Poff as she stood to the side of the eighth fairway waiting for Brooks Koepka to blast some. one on the par-5.
Poff’s family bought a Go Pro on Monday explicitly so they could take it to Augusta. At first, Poff admitted there was an “Oh my God, I can’t have my phone” moment. A few hours into his first session along the ropes, his anxiety had eased.
“It’s pretty nice,” said Poff, a native of Orlando, Fla. “You really are kind of away from that. Now it’s like you don’t even think about your cell phone unless you want a selfie.
While the Poffs splurged for something a little fancier than the kind of disposable tech last seen on tables at wedding receptions nearly a generation ago, Larry Diedrich fished the bottom a drawer for a waterproof digital camera that only sees daylight during family time. trips to Hawaii.
“I had to remember to charge it up,” said Diedrich, who made the short two-hour trip from the Hilton Head, South Carolina area.
Diedrich spent 20 years as a volunteer at the John Deere Classic, which basically has no restrictions like every other golf tournament on the planet. Finding that charging cable was a small price to pay for the ability to snap some action shots as players made their way to the fifth green.
A few holes away, Zach Mendill of Columbia, South Carolina, reveled in the chance to have the almost undivided attention of his two sons as they cruised from the grandstand behind the eighth green to the ninth teeing ground.
“See boys, that was the 18th hole,” Mendill said as Trent and Anthony looked silently out from under their blue-and-white Masters baseball caps.
No oh. No ah. But don’t tell them to put down the handheld device of their choice either. It’s a compromise Mendill will happily live with.
“It’s nice to have a few hours where it’s just me and them,” he said.
Augusta is not fully cut. There’s a bank of touch-tone phones across from the gift shop and a few rows adjacent to a concession stand near the 18th tee, with instructions on how to use your credit card so you can shout at someone just tell them where you’re calling from.
“It’s kind of an ‘I’m here and you’re not’ situation,” said Tom Miller of Charlotte, North Carolina, who called his brother to give him a gentle rub.
There are its drawbacks. Gray’s group of four became a group of three when they were separated at some point between the parking lot and the course. No phone means no quick text for a hangout. Although she would like to see a dedicated area where phones could be used, she understands that is not in her hands.
You don’t come to Augusta to spend it headlong scanning Twitter. You come for the sights. The smells. The roars. The tradition. The chance to be part of something in a place determined to deliver on its promise to deliver an experience like no other.
More AP Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Suggest a fix