Several years ago, prior to the first Greenbrier Classic, I was asked to do a piece on etiquette and how to be a successful spectator for those who might have been attending their first ever golf tournament.
In it I suggested upon entering the property that a wise thing to do would be to visit with an information ambassador who could provide them with a map of the grounds and a pairing sheet. Knowing where you are and where you are headed and whom you want to see is still in vogue.
After serving three years as a committee chairman in charge of marshals, I have made the following additional observations for tourney-goers. Oh — and don’t forget the sunscreen.
THE BIG NO-NO
Don’t get caught using a cell phone and for Pete’s sake put it on silent any time you are not in one of the designated areas where cell phones and digital devices can be used.
The click of a shutter on a camera or cell phone camera or, even worse, an obnoxious cell phone ring tone (quacking duck ... the car horn from “The Dukes of Hazzard”...) going off while a player is getting ready to hit is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. You will get charged! And probably by a caddy, PGA official, or marshal.
The first two years of the tournament, cell phones and cameras were not allowed on the grounds, but the PGA has since relaxed its stance and permits the use of those devices in well-marked areas. Violate this policy and expect the kind of response from players as if you had asked Tiger Woods to sign a photograph of Sergio Garcia.
THE LITTLE NO-NO
Autographs. Many of the pros are gracious about signing programs, hats, shirts or golf-like balls made for the purpose when asked at the proper time and place. However, come Thursday, these guys are good and serious! Do not approach a player for an autograph until he is finished with his round.
Even so, be wary of the player who just shot 76 to miss the cut. If he has fire in his eyes and smoke coming out of his ears, it’s probably not a good time to ask for a signature. Put yourself in their Nike TW 13 Masters Editions. You would not be very congenial either if, after a hard week’s work, your boss stopped by to inform you that despite your immense efforts, there would be no paycheck.
Best times to catch an autograph are Monday and Tuesday during and after practice rounds.