Time To Hang Up On Our Smartphone When We’re On The Golf Course

    September 1, 2023

Fair Comment; Autumn 2023

When I first started playing golf, it was a liberating experience. Not only was I out in fresh air, getting exercise, I was able to enjoy good company — most of the time — and learn to play a new sport. Importantly, I was also unreachable. Got a problem with one of my accounts? Tough, it’ll have to wait until I get back in the office. Once I had my own business my partners became more important to me, and, with the creation of the mobile phone, they could reach me 24/7 if their problem was serious... or trivial, unfortunately.

The one place they won’t reach me, however, even in 2023, is when I’m on the golf course. I’ve always been a firm believer that there’s no place for a mobile phone on the course, even if there are specific pockets for one on some of the modern golf bags.

In an interview with Drumpellier Golf Club’s general manager, Kerry Shields, in this edition, she echoes my view when she says: “I’m always on the phone; very rarely do you see me without my phone in my back pocket or in my hand, and I don’t want to be that person who is constantly on the phone. So, when I’m out there playing golf, I don’t even take my phone.”

But, I hear you say — or at least I do for the purposes of this article — what about those of us who use our smartphone for GPS or scoring while playing? Personally, I don’t like to, for as soon as I start to do so, all sorts of notifications come through, which, in addition to being irritating, might also distract my focus.

There’s nothing I can do about your problem on the course so why do I need to start thinking about it before I finish? And that’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that live scoring at events is not such a great idea.

Picture the scene: at a golf charity day in Spain recently — and in truth this has happened in every event I’ve ever played in — trying to input said scores into the app began to distract the playing group, and nobody really wanted the hassle of that responsibility. Plus, given the very nature and location of a golf course, the updated leaderboard is never truly up-to-date owing to the inevitable drops in network and Wi-Fi coverage.

There’s no doubting that the mobile phone was one of the great inventions of the 20th century — up there with the computer, the aeroplane, radar, and the Pot Noodle — but it shouldn’t become intrusive. We’ve all been somewhere where an inconsiderate phone user has disturbed us and, chances are, if you’re using your phone on the golf course, you are becoming that anti-social person.

Turn it off if you can’t leave it in the locker room. The chance to be out of contact for a few hours should be embraced. Use the time to smell the roses, to clear your head, and concentrate on those 50 swing thoughts that are going through your mind every time you address the ball. It’s good for one’s mental health don’t you know.

Posted by

Michael Lenihan

Publisher, Golf Management

A keen, but all too often frustrated golfer, I have been publishing Golf Management since September 1997, and throughout that period, have interviewed some of the best golf operators in world golf. I’ve also had the privilege to visit, and play, some truly amazing golf courses, and since 2018, have been the CEO of worldclass.golf.

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