For the first time ever, spectators will be allowed to carry mobile devices at the U.S. Open later this month at Chambers Bay in Tacoma, Wash.
The USGA revised its policy this year after “our fans were requesting access to their loved ones and outside world during the championship,” said Janeen Driscoll, Director of Public Relations for the USGA.
“We made the decision with great care and deliberation,” Driscoll added.
Given the changes, the USGA is adding four Wi-Fi zones inside the ropes at Chambers Bay to provide an area for fans to make calls — doing so elsewhere is not allowed.
On the course, taking photos is prohibited, except for during the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday practice rounds. Video and audio recording is not allowed at any time. Fans will also need to keep their devices — a maximum of 7 inches in length and/or height — on vibrate or silent at all times.
The new policy gave the USGA a chance to enhance the fan experience with a revamped U.S. Open app that was designed and developed by IBM, which also did work for The Masters earlier this year.
The iOS and Android app has a bevy of neat features like a player locator, which shows exactly where every player is on the course thanks to new laser position technology and volunteers spread around Chambers Bay.
“Fans will be able to find where their favorite player is on the golf course and head to that hole,” Driscoll noted.
There’s also an interactive course map on the app that shows fans where the concession stands, Wi-Fi zones, grandstands, merchandise tents, first aid stations, and more are located. Other features include video highlights and a live scoreboard. Fans are encouraged to log onto the USGA WiFi network set up at Chambers Bay to enhance the app experience.
There will also be 12 new on-course video boards and a “monster” board at the 18th green at Chambers Bay that will provide not only scores, but players stats and video replays. This is the first time in U.S. Open history where all the scoreboards will be electronic.
“If you are sitting near the 18th green and you hear a roar three holes over, we’ll show you video of what just happened when it is appropriate,” Driscoll said. “You won’t miss any key moments.”
For those that can’t attend the actual tournament, the app and usopen.com will offer three channels of live streaming coverage and “U.S Open 360,” which includes exclusive video that will compliment Fox Sports’ broadcast coverage. There will also be news, photos, and videos on the digital platforms, along with
The tournament, one of golf’s four annual majors, runs June 18-21. This is the first U.S. Open held in the Seattle region.