Officials to keep close eye, ear on fan behavior at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Beware those at Augusta National who endeavor to shout, "Dilly, dilly!" "Get in the hole!" "Mashed potatoes!" or any of the other inane utterances heard when club meets ball at golf tournaments from week to week.

The Masters Tournament, which begins Thursday, is known for a different kind of decorum. And while there are clearly incidents that do occur, they are handled swiftly and often with little recourse for the offending party.

"It's something really that's part of our culture,'' said Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National, during the club's annual news conference. "We believe that it's important, not only here at the Masters, but in every tournament. I know there's been some incidents recently, but we take that part of our policies very seriously, and we will always take action to make sure that all of our policies are enforced, including that one.''

Asked afterward by ESPN if there is anything specifically that it would take for a spectator to be ejected, Ridley said, "I can't cite any specific examples, but when you hear something improper, you know what it is."

And getting tossed is the risk people take.

"We would not be bashful about it,'' Ridley said.

Fan behavior at golf tournaments has become a subject of conversation this year, especially in light of high-profile players such as Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia taking action and pushing for changes.

Thomas had a fan ejected during the final round of his victory at the Honda Classic. McIlroy has on a few occasions referenced the increased poor behavior of spectators, and suggested at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that limiting alcohol sales needs to be considered. Garcia was heckled at the WGC Match Play, leading to a fan ejection.

At the Masters, the difficulty in obtaining a tournament badge and the fact that the club reserves the right to revoke privileges serves as a heavy hammer for those on the grounds.

Masters badges are linked to their owners, and the club reserves the right to remove spectators and take away their badges, which are renewed on an annual basis. Because there is such demand and a closed waiting list for badges, the club has no trouble finding someone else to buy them, which this year go for $375, earning admittance to all four tournament rounds.

On Tuesday, the U.K. website bunkered.co.uk reported it had spoken to an anonymous security guard who said a list of phrases that could lead to ejection included "Dilly, dilly.''

Budweiser, which uses the phrase as part of an advertising campaign, took advantage of that report to seek more publicity by issuing a tongue-in-cheek statement.