The subject of a beer commercial phrase has consumed more time and attention than expected at the “most anticipated Masters of our lifetimes.” This Masters week began with a rumor that Dilly Dilly was on a list of banned phrases and words that, if shouted by a patron, would lead to their immediate removal.
I heard mention and rumor of a list and also rumor of a slide in a presentation to security with Dilly Dilly on it, but did not see it on any specific document carried by the contracted Securitas guards or the separate gallery guards. One guard did tell me, amusingly, “Willy Dilly nilly -- I don’t know, I’m too old and don’t know what the hell it means but I wouldn’t shout that.”
So is there a specific list of banned phrases? Probably not. But I did see a memo with specific categories of words and phrases that security guards should listen out for this week.
The memo was from Buzzy Johnson, the senior director of the Masters Tournament, and distributed to the security guards on Thursday morning as a reminder. There were essentially two categories: the dumb stuff you always hear at golf tournaments and derogatory comments aimed at players.
Let’s get to the dumb stuff. The document cited and specifically included the phrases “You da man!” and “Baba booey!” and “Mashed potatoes!” I did not see “Dilly Dilly!” on the memo. The only time I’ve heard or seen that phrase on the grounds this week was on a t-shirt within the first 10 minutes of walking out on the course on Tuesday.
The second category labeled as “derogatory” comments cited shouts like “Get in the water!” or “Go in the bunker!” That type of comment became the subject of controversy at the Honda Classic in February, when Justin Thomas had a fan tossed for such exhortations.
Less specific instructions are available to each patron in the “spectator guide” provided when they enter the grounds at Augusta National. Baba booey is a modern day phrase but the rules on shouting have their roots in club founder Bobby Jones’ ideal of how people attending a golf tournament should conduct themselves. Here’s the note, written by Jones in April of 1967, that is on page 1 of every spectator guide.
“In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play. It is appropriate for spectators to applaud successful strokes in proportion to difficulty but excessive demonstrations by a player or his partisans are not proper because of the possible effect upon other competitors.
Most distressing to those who love the game of golf is the applauding or cheering of misplays or misfortunes of a player. Such occurrences have been rare at the Masters but we must eliminate them entirely if our patrons are to continue to merit their reputation as the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world.”
If you do shout something out of line, including those specific phrases from the aforementioned memo, the guards will put one hole punch in the upper right corner of your badge. A second-hole punch means you’re gone. Maybe you’re there on a “weekly badge” but those hole punches don’t reset if you had some clown using it the day before and he caught a punch. You’re still down to one strike.
Any shouted obscenities or curse words are going to be grounds for instant removal. You’re not going to get multiple chances on that. The biggest issue one guard told me is just general noise from groups, maybe with a little alcohol in their system, talking loudly and chatting unaware of the nearby golf happening.
The unmistakable Securitas guards, who are still referred to as Pinkertons, the company that used to have the contract, are the first and primary line of defense for upholding all these ideals. They get strict instructions on everything, from their uniform (one memo told them to wear black socks every day) to how to talk to the patrons (an all caps “MY PLEASURE” stood out on a memo as their phrase to use for the week when talking with the patrons). There is absolutely no running at Augusta National, and they make sure you’re reminded of that. They also make sure your badge or ticket is displayed and visible.
The guards also watch the course overnight and then a new shift comes in, at least an hour before the gates open at 8 a.m. and often hours before players tee off or reach the holes where a guard may be stationed out on the course. They are everywhere, too — next to tee boxes, around the greens, up in the grandstands, in open areas that are nowhere near golf holes, near concessions stands, in the woods. It’s hard to go 50 yards without seeing one.
By and large, patrons observe all these rules. You rarely see anyone run. The shouting is kept to mostly inoffensive quick hits like “c’mon Tiger!” That’s fine. I’ve heard a few fans shout “Go Dawgs!” or “Go Tigers!” for Clemson amateur Doc Redman. One guy yelled “Stanford” at Tiger Woods for some reason that is only known to him. But that’s really it. There’s just no premeditated shouting.
And isn’t that kinda how we want it? These are always the most annoying people at golf tournaments, or any other sporting event for that matter. Augusta has plenty of quirky traditions and strict rules that may not make sense to you, but preventing idiots from shouting stupid things like “Mashed Potatoes!” seems like one we should embrace and applaud.