Follow the Rules and Have a Ball Newcomers Should Heed Marshals

Article excerpt

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- If you're heading out to The Players Championship for the first time, or even if you're a veteran fan who finds himself not exactly sure how to behave in a certain situation, follow the Marshal's Creed:

When in doubt, sit down and shut up. And not necessarily in that order, either.

That's basically all a first-time fan at this week's Players Championship at the TPC at Sawgrass needs to know. And there's bound to be plenty of newbies among the roughly 140,000 fans expected to flood the tournament over the next four days.

David Duval is lining up his birdie putt on No. 17 and you want to get another beer? Sit down.

Tiger Woods is on the tee at No. 1 and you want to fire off the cliched "You da man!"? Shut up.

The oft-heckled Colin Montgomerie is searching for his ball in a patch of rough right in front of you? Sit down and shut up.

Joking aside, there are definite guidelines to follow when attending a golf tournament, guidelines which most new fans -- many of whom have been attracted to the sport by the immense popularity of Woods, Duval and Sergio Garcia -- don't know exist. But they need to know them, volunteer Ron Davis said, or they won't have a very good time.

Davis is one of the volunteers who man the booths located at each of the five gates to the course. His job, as well as the security guards standing by, is to make sure no one enters the course with a cell phone, a camera, outside food or drink, or firearms. Backpacks and large bags will be searched each day. Anyone trying to bring a cell phone on the course -- except for physicians -- will have to leave it at the checkpoint to retrieve at the end of the day.

Davis and his crew confiscated 48 cell phones at Gate A yesterday, and he expects that number to rise to roughly 125 per day for the next four days.

"Most people are pretty reasonable about it and they read all the guidelines," Davis said as he pointed to the large sign located at every gate announcing the policy. "Periodically you're going to find someone who wants to fight the rules."

Once you get onto the grounds, however, is when the Marshal's Creed applies. …