‘No phone’ policy silences social media at Masters

Published 2:11 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Derek Jensen’s profile picture features Rae’s Creek and the Ben Hogan Bridge, and a picture of the Masters logo. It’ll stay that way for several hours.

No more tweets, nothing on Instagram or Facebook.

Not while he’s on the golf course at Augusta National. Forget posting that photo from Amen Corner or what Tiger Woods just did with his club.

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At the Masters, everyone must leave smartphones at home, in the car or checked at the gate. It’s social media silence. Anyone caught with a phone is escorted off the grounds.

It’s a policy embraced as part of Augusta National’s mystique and a now rare escape from technology.

Jensen, who’s from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said Wednesday the itch to post passed quickly as he and three friends wandered the course.

“It’s part of the mystique of this place,” said Jeff Nelson of Rockford, Illinois.

“Everybody knows there’s no phones, so that becomes part of the whole cool thing. It’s like we know we can’t use the phones. It becomes part of the experience of knowing you’re going to have to turn that phone in because you can’t have a phone at the Masters.”

It forces people to fellowship more, interact and socialize.

So that has led to a trend that may become yet another Masters’ tradition: The social media update before heading to Augusta National with some going cryptic with simply the yellow logo or photos of the course.

Middle Tennessee golf coach Whit Turnbow made it very clear to his Twitter followers that he was going silent Monday because of the no-phone policy while including a photo showing the end of Magnolia Lane.

Turnbow has been coming to this tournament since he was 12, so he knew the policy very well. But his five players looked puzzled when he told them to leave their phones in the van. But even the Masters veteran kept reaching to his back pocket looking for his phone every few minutes throughout the day.

“It is certainly a little bit unusual not to be able to live tweet right here at the site,” Turnbow said Wednesday.

Others choose not to share where they’re going.

Michael Duncan of Atlanta embraced the break from social media and didn’t tell his followers on any of his four accounts about his first trip to the Masters. Once on the course, Duncan said he already would have posted an update — if he had his phone.

“The point of social media is to let people know where you’re at and what you’re doing,” Duncan said.

Eddie Hunter of Maryville, Tennessee, is considered a Facebook stalker by his friends but forgot to update his status because they couldn’t wait to start walking around the course.

“Having a good time far outweighs Facebook,” Hunter said.

Ann Benzon of Chicago, Illinois, embraced Augusta National giving her the chance to escape without feeling the need to check social media. She noted even flying these days offers no break with airplane mode and WiFi on planes.

“This place is special, and I actually love being disconnected …,” Benzon said. “I think it’s refreshing to get a total disconnect.”