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Take note, R&A: Ignorance can be bliss when out wandering the course . . .

THE trials and tribulations of everyday existence come in various guises.

Say cheese: But the ever-present mobile phone means that watching live golf has lost much of its endearing mystery. Picture: Getty Images
Say cheese: But the ever-present mobile phone means that watching live golf has lost much of its endearing mystery. Picture: Getty Images

Take the humble tap, for instance. There was a time when coaxing a life-giving trickle of water from such a simple contraption was as easy as, well, turning on a tap. A birl here and a twist there; it was a process of undemanding, limp-wristed nonchalance, on a par with Larry Grayson flicking out a paw while cackling 'shut that door'.

Somewhere along the line, though, the tap got all fancy and footery. If you're not poised over a sink with your trembling hands cupped like Oliver Twist pleading for more Dickensian slop as you wait for a light sensor to deliver a fairly modest squirting, then you're embroiled in a flustered race against time with the push button valve as your alternating hands splish and splosh around like Tommy Cooper doing the dishes.

Nothing, it seems, is immune to the ferocious fiddling of those cutting-edge crusaders whose job it is to make something quite simple more all singing, all dancing.

Take golf, for instance. Now, you know those milky white orbs that are stuck in your face? In case you have forgotten, they are your eyes. And what do you do with your eyes? That's right, you look at things; things like people playing golf.

Of course, merely watching someone else hit a ball about doesn't cut it these days. It's so passive and dull, like gazing at a donkey dozing in the shade while flies buzz around its nostrils. Don't worry, though. Come July's Open Championship at Hoylake the "spectator experience" will be propelled into a whole new stratosphere.

The Royal & Ancient, who originally banned mobiles after the Hoylake Open of 2006 but have since embraced them like a long-lost friend, insist that this summer's showpiece will be one of the most hi-tech sporting tournaments on the planet. Yes, even more so than the Forgandenny Horse Drawn Ploughing Championships.

Those with smartphones - mobile phones that are often smarter than the folk using them - will be able to download all manner of items, from instant leaderboards to the BBC's television coverage, to keep them entertained.

Why pay the £75 ticket price to watch someone driving off in front of you when you can pay £75 to squint your eyes at a small screen clutched in your hand and watch the same shot from a seat in the grandstand? All right, so we are being a tad flippant here but self-absorbed screen-scrolling is not exactly what watching golf is about.

Yes, the Open is a vast beast which can be difficult for a spectator, with a cast of thousands inside the ropes hindering the views, but you do not want to completely abolish the spontaneity of viewing, the intrigue and excitement that is generated by various oohhs, ahhhs, claps and cheers from distant greens and fairways, that all add to that sense of the unknown and the unexpected and have folk scurrying off in various directions, craning their necks, standing on their tiptoes and generally becoming part of this moveable mass. Anyone who has been at the Masters, with its no-phone policy and traditional, stripped-back approach to on-course information, will appreciate that sometimes ignorance can be bliss in these instantaneous times when it feels like everybody knows what's happened before it's even happened.

Here at Gleneagles, venue for this week's Scottish PGA Championship, the plush Perthshire resort is bracing itself for the Ryder Cup onslaught in September. Like the Open, the biennial bout has developed into a gravy train of colossal proportions.

Corporate packages are promoted in wild abundance and the event seems to have more official partners than a polygamist. Everybody wants a slice of the action. As the bandwagon grows and grows, it was interesting to hear the words of Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA and the guardian of Samuel Ryder's little gold chalice on this side of the Atlantic.

"We've got to remember the Ryder Cup's core values of integrity and respect; it's not about squeezing every penny out of it," said Jones. "We've got to be more Augusta-like. They do it quietly and effectively. It's not in-your-face commercialism.

"My role is a check and balance, it's not about where grandstands are etc, etc. There is a danger of overwhelming commercialism.

"But, as I said to Ken Schofield [former chief executive of the European Tour] a few years ago, if that happened, we at the PGA would just lock the cup in the cupboard. I would hate to have to repeat that comment."

Have a look round a Ryder Cup these days, mind you, and it is fairly obvious that the horse has long since bolted on that front. The flood of commercialism and technology roars on. There's no chance of turning the tap off now.

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