Former Masters chairman explained the tournament's infamous cell-phone policy and vowed to never change it

Cork Gaines
Billy Payne

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  • Among the many things that make the Masters the quirkiest event in sports is the strict no-cell-phone policy during the tournament.
  • Former Masters chairman Billy Payne explained Augusta National's position and vowed to never change it under his watch.
  • Now that Payne is retired, the future of the rule is unknown, but it is hard to argue with the attention to detail considering how great the Masters is.


Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, is famous for its strict and seemingly archaic rules, and former Masters chairman Billy Payne explained why one of their most notorious rules has never changed.

Among the famous rules of Augusta National is the strict no-cell-phone policy. During Payne's introductory press conference before the 2017 Masters, he was asked about the future of the rule and was adamant that it would never change on his watch.

"You're going to have to ask the next chairman," Payne said. "Because that's not going to change while I'm chairman."

Payne then explained the policy.

"I just don't think it is appropriate," Payne said. "The noise is an irritation to, not only the players, the dialing, the conversation; it's a distraction. And that's the way we have chosen to deal with it." 

That Payne would be so concerned with eliminating noise not directly associated with the sport of golf should not come as a surprise. The governing board has always been obsessed with the presentation of the tournament, including their famous azaleas, the white jumpers for the caddies, the prohibition of running among patrons (and don't call them spectators or fans!), and even the minimal number of commercials that are allowed during the television broadcast.

Payne retired as chairman after the 2017 Masters. New chairman Fred Ridley has yet to comment on his view of the rule. But despite seemingly being behind the times, it is hard to argue with the attention to detail as the beauty of Augusta National is much of what makes the Masters so great.

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