Shane Lowry: Selfies at the Irish Open? ‘I think it’s ridiculous’

New rules to modernise game mean phones and photography to be encouraged

Shane Lowry has questioned the wisdom of encouraging fans to take photographs on the golf course at this week's Irish Open in Royal Portstewart.

Mobile phone photography is, for the first time, allowed in all areas of the course from Tuesday, July 4th to the finish on Sunday, July 9th.

But the former Irish Open winner believes that it will be the Irish players who will get the most attention and become the main subjects of people hoping to get a snap or selfie.

Embracing a theme of modernisation as figures for participation in the sport decline, the European Tour is urging fans to enter a competition for the best picture of the week with the winner receiving €500 worth of merchandise.


“I think that’s ridiculous. There’s going to be carnage this week for myself and the other Irish guys,” says Lowry, who is happy with his game despite missing the cut last weekend in France.

“What a week to trial something like that. There’s going to be 25,000 . . . Trying to get 25,000 people to use their phone on silent . . . statistically, a certain percentage of people won’t have their phones on silent. They’re going to use it anyway. There’s going to be carnage.”

Generally sanguine about most things, as well as being one of the relatively younger players on tour, the 30-year-old looks on Ireland as one of the greatest offenders when it comes to mobile phones ringing and fans taking pictures at inappropriate moments during play.

“France has always been pretty bad, Ireland has been pretty bad too,” said Lowry. “You’re not allowed use your phone at Augusta. I don’t know . . . I just think it’s a bit ridiculous this week.”

At the Masters’ event, patrons are not allowed to bring phones on to the course, largely because of what Lowry says – that people forget to put them onto silent.


Apart from the dialling and conversation distractions, the modern phenomenon is to capture a selfie with a famous person and send a Tweet.

"To be honest, it's always been extremely difficult to police so we're delighted to be the first European Tour event to pilot this change," said Irish Open Championship director Simon Alliss, referring to the capitulation to modern social behaviour.

Lowry is not only concerned about ringtones going off at the top of his back swing but is also sceptical about the relevance of music being played on the practice range, which is another step towards a sexed-up, lighter feel around grounds that are often seen as intimidating and exclusive.

“The Tour is all into this new stuff. Music on the range. I’m not a fan of much of it. Some if it I am,” he said.

“Trying to warm-up at half six in the morning on the range and One Direction comes on. You’re thinking ‘ah come on, I’m only barely out of bed.’ You’re trying to get your head right, you know what I mean?’

“Do they need to have music on the range at Wentworth? This week at the Irish Open, does anyone care they have music on the range? There will still be the same amount of people there. No one is going to go for the music on the range. They’ll still go for the golf.”

Lowry, though, is quite a Tweeter himself. They come with his views on all sporting events and last weekend included observations on the Lions rugby match with New Zealand, as well as GAA.

While rarely controversial, there is little hope that will be sanitised.

“No, I think that’s boring,” he says. “There are genuine people that follow you and want to know you and what you are like.”

Two Door Cinema Club will be playing at the opening ceremony on Pro Am Wednesday and Scouting For Girls will be closing the event on Sunday evening.

Who? Go ask the kids.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times