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You don’t hear much applause at golf tournaments anymore.
"The art of clapping is gone," Tiger Woods said a couple years back. "Everyone’s holding a cell phone."
Oh sure, you’ll still hear plenty of "woo" and "mashed potato" and "Tiger Tiger Woods y'all" and, of course, "get in the hole." ("Baba Booey" has faded as Howard Stern’s cultural footprint has diminished. "Brooksy" mostly vanished when Koepka and DeChambeau squashed their beef. And "dilly dilly" died the lonely, unmourned death it always deserved.)
But applause? No, there’s very little applause anymore. Everyone tracks the players, cell phone in hand, filling their photo libraries with awkward, poorly timed or misaligned shots. I’m as guilty of this as anyone; whenever I’m at a course that allows cell phones, I’m all over it, capturing gems like this from Kiawah Island in 2012:
It’s Tiger! And he’s walking! Superstars are just like us!
And since we’re not pro photographers, we end up with a whole bunch of photos from a distance that look like this, from Pebble Beach in 2019:
Check out Phil and DJ, right there just … uh … hanging out by the green or something.
The biggest crowds surround the biggest names, and unless you’re right up front, you end up with gems like this, from the 2021 Tour Championship:
Hey, that’s Bryson down there! So close you could almost yell "Brooksy" at him!
Augusta National, as always, is the exception to all of this. Phones aren’t allowed on the grounds, on penalty of permanent lifetime expulsion, so everyone can freely applaud — well, as long as they’re not holding cheap sandwiches and beers. At the Masters, you’re always in the moment, unconnected to the world beyond.
The most fascinating part of watching any golf tournament is that if you happen to be standing at just the right spot, you can find yourself in the middle of the action. Unlike any other sport, golf can roll literally right up to your feet. You can be sipping a beer one minute, and the next, Tiger Woods is standing beside you ready to take one of his 70-or-so shots on the day.
And if you’re at a course that permits cell phones, that leads to photos like this:
Take a look at that photo. Behold everyone in it, almost all of them busy with their phones. Notice anything odd? Out of place?
Yep, that one dude there on the left, in khaki shorts and a blue shirt. He’s holding his beer like you hold a cell phone, yes, but it is definitely a beer — a Michelob Ultra, to be precise. Everyone else is viewing Tiger through the lens of their phone; he’s watching the GOAT with his own two eyes. He’s living in the moment.
(Granted, considering the price of beer at the PGA Championship, he was holding something almost as valuable as a phone, but still … )
You don’t need me to tell you that putting down your phone and enjoying the life that’s unfolding in front of you is a good idea. If you’re like, well … everyone, you know exactly how addictive that damn phone can be.
Now, since nothing in this life can go unbranded, Michelob turned beer-holding dude into a marketing campaign, complete with merch.
— Michelob ULTRA (@MichelobULTRA) May 24, 2022
(At least it’s not an NFT. Yet.)
Still, the message is a good one. Put down the phone, be in the moment, and see the world through your own eyes. And if you want a memory for posterity that badly, just ask the person next to you to text you the video. You know they'll be filming.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.