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Phones Down, Heads Up

By Robert Hardie August 11, 2022 2 comments

Phones Down, Heads Up

Phones Down, Heads Up

10th August, 2022 - Robert hardie

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There is much about golf in the 1970s that we should be grateful to have left behind: treatment of female golfers as second- or third-class citizens; casual racism; small balls; bladed clubs without cavity backs; and that's before we get on to Pringle jumpers...


But there's one thing that now makes it seems like a golden age: there were no mobile telephones.

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  • "Golf can't expect to be immune from the impact - good and bad - that portable technology and constant connectivity has delivered..."

    • Robert Hardie


"Golf can't expect to be immune from the impact - good and bad - that portable technology and constant connectivity has delivered..."

  • Robert Hardie




I was playing recently and an incident ahead of us had caused some bunching, so my group arrived at a tee to find the fourball in front still waiting for the group in front of them. All four had their heads down and were scrolling through their phone screens.


Once the group in front had moved the phones went down and they played their tee-shots but it was like all four of them were in a cult: as soon as the club went back into the bag the phone came out again, the head went down again, and the scrolling began again.


Watching them all walk down towards their balls was like being close up to a Red Arrows display but without the tail smoke: they all hit great shots and were all on the fairway but no-one spoke a word - it was heads-down scrolling as they went, and when they played their second shots we could see the same happening again.

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Golf is the greatest sport in the world to play precisely because it's so social: you get to talk to the people you are playing with and against in a way that you don't in any other sport.


There is a rhythm to golf that not only allows this interaction, it positively encourages it. You spend only seconds of a four-hour round actually hitting the ball, the rest is preparation - less than 40 seconds per shot if you're sticking to the R&A guidelines - and walking.



Golf can't expect to be immune from the impact - good and bad - that portable technology and constant connectivity has delivered, most particularly in terms of the distance measuring devices, but so much of the inherent joy of golf is in danger of being lost if it's to a phone and not a playing partner that you choose to engage with.


Everything you need to know about life you can learn from golf and as much of that comes from the people you play with as it does from the game itself. Maybe "no phones on the course" needs to join "no phones at the table" in the golfer's lexicon.


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2 comments


  • Perhaps you were just unlucky, I play 3 times a week and have never knowingly seen others ‘using’ their phones,
    I refer to mine attached on my Stewart Q because I use the Arccos GPS system – if that modern practice adds time to a round then perhaps golf should accept that too.
    I don’t condone slow play but some courses don’t help by trimming fairways too narrow, rough is too rough and too many bunkers all of which slows down average club golfers.

    Ian Clark on

  • Can’t agree more, mobile phones should not be allowed on golf course, it is annoying when golfers are on there phone on the course.

    Andrew on

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