R&A to allow mobile devices at 2012 British Open, Lytham lengthened

Peter Dawson at Royal Lytham & St. Annes
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R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson unveiled a series of physical changes to the course at Royal Lytham & St. Annes since David Duval won the last time the Open was staged there in 2001.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012 | 5:27 p.m.

Spectators will be able to use mobile phones at the British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes this summer, the R&A said on Monday.

A decision has been taken to remove the ban that has been in place since 2006 in order to enhance the experience for the general public.

Calls will be allowed in designated areas, but photography and video recording will not be permitted during the four days of the championship.

"There is no denying the attachment people feel to their mobile phones both in terms of gathering information and staying in touch with family and friends," said R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson. "We understand this and allowing their use at the championship will enrich the Open experience.

"We understand there will be concerns over this change in policy, but we will be liaising with spectators around the tented village and food and drink outlets," he explained. "Strict rules will be put in place designed to ensure that play is not affected in any way by the change. Our spectators are very knowledgeable and understand golf and so we are confident they will respect the players."

By moving the Open galleries into the modern age of smartphone use, the R&A hopes to improve the spectacle and tap into a younger market.

"We are offering spectators access to an enhanced range of apps for Android, iPhone and iPad that will offer live video of play and other attractions at the Open," Dawson added. "They will keep them up to date with essential championship information, including score, tee times, news and an interactive course guide."

There also have been a significant number of physical changes to the course since David Duval won the last time the Open was staged there in 2001.

All but four holes -- the first, ninth, 12th and 15th -- have undergone redevelopment, with almost 200 yards added to the overall length of the course and a completely new seventh green constructed. The links will now play 7,086 yards as opposed to the 6,905 it did 11 years ago.

The 492-yard sixth hole has also been downgraded to a par 4 for this year's Open, making the course a par 70 for the championship.

The 10th hole is 52 yards longer compared to 11 years ago, while No. 7 is 35 yards longer. The 11th now measures 592 yards -- 56 yards longer than last time.

The only holes that have not been changed are the par-4 fourth and par-3 12th.

Dawson admitted the R&A had probably reached the limits at Lytham in terms of adding extra length.

"There is always room to do something, but we are very close to the maximum," he said.