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Fans get to walk course with no-rope policy at Vic Open

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LPGA pros teeing it up Down Under will get their most intimate on-course tour experience at this week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open.

Per tradition in this unique men’s and women’s event, officials aren’t roping off galleries at the 13th Beach Golf Links in Victoria, Australia.

Fans are welcome to walk the course with players, to set up behind and alongside them as they play.

“One of the joys of watching live golf is being able to get close to the players, to see what they go through in preparation of a shot, to be able to stand behind them and watch,” said Stephen Pitt, Golf Australia’s CEO. “It really adds a special dimension to the event.”

Golf Channel will air the first two rounds Wednesday and Thursday from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET, with the third round to air Friday from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET and the final round Saturday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET.

Pernilla Lindberg has played the tournament a couple times.

“I just think it gives an extra special vibe to the event,” Lindberg said.

Lindberg said she has shared the unique gallery experience with fellow LPGA pros in the past and how surprisingly well it works.

“I have told them you wouldn't believe how respectful the crowds are,” Lindberg said. “I said, I played there now for two years, and I cannot remember one time when I asked someone to move or stand still.

“If [another player] were to ask me, that's what I would tell them, if they are worried or concerned about it.”

Andrew “Beef” Johnston will be getting the Vic Open experience for the first time.

“Playing this morning, I realized there were no ropes out there,” Johnston said.

Johnston said he trusted people will respect what players require in that setting.

“I’m not worried at all,” he said. “It's good for the spectators to get close, get some information ... because it’s interesting when you hear a player talk to the caddie, or vice versa, what we're thinking sometimes and what we’re doing.”