U.S. Open: No smoking, please
By Arnie Stapleton
SAN DIEGO ó Spectators at the U.S. Open had better keep their butts off Torrey Pines Golf Course: No smoking allowed.
To both the delight and indignation of the gallery, the 108th Open starting today will be golf’s first smoke-free major.
“Woo-hoo!” hollered Jill Kulper, of Sacramento, attending the tournament with her husband and young children. “Now we don’t have to move away from a good spot when somebody starts smoking.”
Never mind that golf and cigars go together almost like cake and ice cream. Spectators caught smoking ó cigarettes or cigars ó face up to a $100 fine.
“I sympathize with them. I don’t think it’s fair,” Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, one of the European Tour’s top players and a cigar aficionado, said after puffing his way through a practice round Wednesday.
“I don’t see what’s the problem. Why not make everyone ride a bike here instead of driving their cars? We’re in open space. I thought we were supposed to have freedom to do what we want.”
Well, he does. The U.S. Golf Association sought exemptions for everyone, including spectators, at Torrey Pines after San Diego officials, worried about the health effects of second-hand smoke and sick of cleaning up discarded cigarettes, banned smoking at its beaches, city parks and municipal golf courses in 2006, said Reg Jones, managing director for the U.S. Open.
“Our concern was for the players,” said USGA president Jim Vernon. “This is THE national championship and some of them smoke.”