As some players’ mentors have found out in Masters week, this grand old club will punish anyone who breaks its traditions
The famously no-nonsense approach of Augusta National to matters of discipline has been evident once more during Masters week, with more than one player’s coach understood to have been ejected from the premises for violating the rules on mobile phone usage.
In one instance, a competitor’s tutor was discovered to be filming his client from outside the ropes during the opening round and was duly asked to leave the course. It is unclear whether the coach was allowed back inside the gates, given his player has survived the 36-hole cut.
Mobile phones are not permitted at all for spectators on entry to Augusta National or for the media outside their designated building. Coaches are allowed them under strict guidance, which pertains largely to the capture or filming of swing work during practice sessions on long- or short-game ranges.
This week the guidelines have been abused more than once, with swift action taken.
Augusta National did not offer comment. However, the club has privately made it plain that it has mobile phone policies and they are enforced. The Masters stands alone as a tournament that denies general use of mobile phones and there is no apparent sign of that situation changing.
Speaking before the 2019 Masters the Augusta National chairman, Fred Ridley, said: “I think that’s something that does set us apart. I think our patrons appreciate our cell-phone policy. I don’t believe that’s a policy that anyone should expect is going to change in the near future, if ever. I can’t speak for future chairmen, but speaking for myself I think we got that right.”
Even players are not immune to the phone rules. “I remember one of my first Masters I was with Ian Poulter and we were posting a few pictures on Twitter and stuff, and someone came out and told us to cease and desist,” the former US Open champion Graeme McDowell told GolfWeek last year.
Kim Si-woo is likely to receive at the very least a stern lecture after breaking his putter in a fit of pique on the 15th hole of his second round. The South Korean managed to play his closing three in level par despite putting with a fairway wood.
On the PGA Tour, the deliberate breaking of clubs tends to see players quietly fined. “I was lucky I only had like three-, four-, five-feet [putts] over the last few holes,” Kim said. “So I got lucky there. It was just frustration.”
The surprise Masters contender Will Zalatoris, meanwhile, has reflected on his early encounters with Jordan Spieth. Zalatoris is making his Augusta debut at the age of 24, six years on from Spieth’s runaway victory. The pair are acquainted from amateur days, having both been schooled in Texas.
“I’ve known Jordan I guess since I was about 10 years old,” Zalatoris said. “He was always a world-beater at such a young age. The story I always tell is we were 14, playing my home club in Dallas at Bent Tree, and he made a crazy up-and-down on the first hole to save par basically from another fairway. He went out and birdied six out of the next eight to shoot 29 on the front, and he broke the course record that had been there for 20-plus years. That was at 14.
“I’ve seen him do just some of the most miraculous things playing little games at home. But playing against him he’s always set the bar, especially in Texas, in terms of whatever that bar is at whatever level. I think guys like Scottie Scheffler and myself really owe him a lot for setting that bar.
“We’d probably make a great Ryder Cup pairing because I’m a really good ball-striker and he’s probably the best chipper and putter in the last 30 years. He’s been a great friend and really a great role model.”