Now the yapping masses can reintroduce the phrase "I'm at the Open" to their humdrum haverings after the Royal & Ancient took the decision to allow spectators to use mobile phones during this July's championship at Royal Lytham.
In a world of Apps, Androids, iPhones and iPads, the march of new technology has been unrelenting and the golfing powers-that-be have decided that the climate is now right to lift the six-year ban and "trust" that the "good nature of spectators can be relied upon." Time will tell, of course.
It was during the 2006 Open, just down the north-west coast at Hoylake, that the mobile phone problem became a serious issue. In the wake of a series of complaints – not least from the eventual winner Tiger Woods – about the constant irritation of spectators using their phones to take pictures, the R&A took swift action and prohibited the gadgets at future championships.
With the Open becoming an increasingly "interactive" affair, however, officials have eased back on their tough stance. Photography and video recording will still not be permitted on championship days but calls can be made from designated areas and spectators will be allowed to check their smartphones from the course and in the grandstands. Goodness knows what Bobby Jones, the winner of the first Open to be held at Lytham back in 1926, would have made of it all.
"There is a risk but this is based on trust," said Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the R&A. "There is no denying the attachment people feel to their mobile phones. We have taken advice from the tours and this was a chance to re-introduce them to improve the spectator experience. We did ban it somewhat reluctantly and if it becomes an issue again then we will review it."
Technology was very much to the fore at yesterday's pre-championship briefing, with television coverage of future Opens being another key item on the agenda. The BBC, which has been associated with the world's oldest major for over 50 years, has exclusive live rights through to 2016 but, given the current situation, the chances of the championship continuing to be screened on 'cooncil tele' appear to be diminishing.
The BBC has already lost the live rights to the Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship as of 2013, while its previously exclusive deal with the Masters was muscled into by Sky last year. The increasing use of non-golfers in the coverage (cricketer Michael Vaughan was deployed to Augusta National) has also added to the general concern.
"It [using Vaughan] does seem unusual," Dawson acknowledged. "Yes we are concerned that the BBC are doing so little golf and we have had it discussed. The coverage has dropped dramatically and, like everything else in life, you need to practise and keep up with the advances."
As far as this summer's host venue is concerned, numerous tweaks have been made for the 11th staging of the Open over these venerable links. The course will be some 200 yards longer than it was in 2001, the last time the battle for the Claret Jug was contested here, and will play to a rigorous par-70, not a 71, of 7086 yards. With over 200 bunkers, Lytham has always been a great, strategic test. "There are all sorts of disasters lying in wait," said Dawson.
The prize fund, which was £5m last year, will be equally as generous although no official figure will be released until nearer the event, while crowds are being expected to be at the 180,000 mark, "a good achievement in Olympic year when people may take the once in a lifetime chance to go to that rather than an Open."
Players, as ever, have been asked to conduct themselves properly on the course. "Tiger has been spitting and swearing at an Open for years" suggested one reporter. "So have I," said Dawson with a chuckle. But there was a serious tone. "It [certain players' actions] is an unedifying spectacle and I'm sure a public sanctioning would lead to a correction of behaviour."
On the prickly issue of pace of play, the R&A, as always, have stipulated a time of four-and-a-half hours for the three balls. Wishful thinking perhaps? Back in 1952, Bobby Locke, the champion at Lytham that year, was reprimanded for taking three-and-a-half hours. How times change.